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Rock in the 1960s: The British Invasion

Updated on July 10, 2011

The 1st Wave

 As the 1950s came to a close, the 1960s came about and rock 'n' roll was evolving with the help of British influence.  The English had bestowed a new revolution of music.  It was interesting to consider that there were actually two waves of British Invasion.  They both managed to do two completely different things.  The first wave is best known as Beatlemania.  Bands that were in this wave were  kept their clothes clean, hair combed, and posed no significant threat to middle-class values and lifestyles.  It’s named after the highly successful British band, The Beatles.  The kind of music that these bands focused on was more pop and vocal based.  The Beatle’s influence on society was considered positive.  The Beatles were considered a band of religion. There gospels were fun as they would shout, stomp, jump for joy, and their audiences would respond in a way that made an old-time revival meeting seem like a wake.  They gave the youth a chance to let off steam and adults a chance to let off disapproval.  Cute and safe became this new sexless appeal that the Beatles developed.  Beatlemania had a stronger influence on females than it did on their male counterparts.  For girls, Beatlemania was a storm that hit hard with a powerful impact.  All teenagers experience the physical and emotional tolls of puberty and they tend to make it obvious to other people, especially girls.  Beatlemania was considered a release of sexual energy for girls.  Sex was very exciting for those girls that participated in Beatlemania as it was a rebellious statement to sexual thoughts, and even more rebellious was acting on those sexual feelings.  So even though the Beatles were safe and clean cut, they still displayed some kind of sex appeal that caused a generation of teenage girls to become screaming fans.   

The 2nd Wave

 Unlike the first wave, the second wave followed the Rolling Stones and projected a more brash, nonconformist, and rebellious image.  They were anti-social and threatening to the community.  This wave lead by the Stones was seen as a more vulgar, yet trendy alternative to the Beatles.  Believe it or not, Americans had a strong influence in this wave of new music.  It fused pop with Chicago-style blues, and developed a strong enthusiam towards the R&B-influenced hard rock sound of the rebelling teenagers.  So, unlike Beatlemania, this wave was based more on the music and encouraging teenagers to misbehave.  The mid 60’s gave America a generation of British music that revolutionized the way Americans portrayed rock music. The Rolling Stones competede with the Beatles for the rock 'n'roll crown.  The British invasion was very successful and had a deep impact on American society.

The Beatles
The Beatles
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones

Greats from the British Invasion

The Beatles: Hands down, the Beatles are the best known band to be part of the British Invasion. They are one of the greatest contributors to rock music ever. Their music changed so much in American society. They were arguably the greatest band in the world and couldn't be contained in the UK. The music was poppie, but the chords were not. The Beatles created chords that were unfamiliar and combined them with the pop element. They made it work. There is so much that could be said about the Beatles and none of it would be negative (at least there shouldn't be anything negative). The Beatles had a unique sound and style of rock that would influence later sub-genres of rock such as folk rock and psychedelia. When I Saw Her Standing There is the first song on the Beatles first album, Please Please Me. The song is about a guy falling in love with a seventeen year old and "dancing" with her. You notice the claps in the background going clap clap, clap (1, 2, 1 if this makes the argument more clear). The guitar riffs clash together so well, making this song sound unique, and the fast drum beat makes the song more upbeat and cheery. This was the sound that made the Beatles so great in the early days. In the mid to late 60's, the Beatles had a completely different sound, still good, but that'll be discussed in a later article.

The Rolling Stones: Next to the Beatles, this band dominated the 1960's.  Some people consider this band to be a two guitar band because of how well the two guitars worked together.  The band blended sounds of blues, country, folk, reggae, and even dance into thier music.  Route 66 is the Rolling Stones's first song on their first, self-titled album.  This song has a strong R&B feeling, but with those guitars, the Rolling Stones makes it a unique and creative sound that revolutionized rock 'n' roll music.  The song is about taking a cross country road trip from the east coast to the west coast with the use of route 66.  The Rolling Stones has indeed come along way since Route 66.  Believe it or not, the Rolling Stones are still around to this day.  Granted, they haven't been the same since their big start in the 60's, but their still making music and loving what they do. 

Personal Philosophy

Even though rock music was well established in the 1950s, it was the 1960s that revolutionized rock music.  The British Invasion is probably the best thing to happen to rock music because of all the creative talent and influence it bestowed upon Americans.  I really feel that the Beatles and Rolling Stones best represent the 1st (Beatles) and 2nd (Rolling Stones) waves, even though there are several other expectional bands. 

This is the first form of rock that incorperates the British influence and to me, that's awesome.  I generally like British rock because the the guitar riffs are more creative and the sound is just more intense.  Early British rock like the Beatles and Rolling Stones set excellent examples for future bands, both British and American.  I don't listen to this type of music everyday, but whenever I get the chance to hear it, whether it be on the radio or with a friend, I highly enjoy it.  The music makes me appreciate the music I listen to today.  Even though rock's timeline gets more extensive, rock music seemed to have taken off to great heights during the early and mid 60's. 


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I did a project once about the Beatles and the British invasion, I wish I could have had this page.

    • Mark Sparks profile image

      Mark Sparks 

      7 years ago from Charlottesville, Virginia

      I've read books about the Beatles and the British invasion, but I wish i could have been around to see for myself. Very informative hub!

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image


      7 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      If you are a child of the 60's like me then you know what the Beatles and Stones meant on our lives. The new world order had begun for better or for worse that's when it all began. Loved it! Peter

    • alzel127 profile image

      Alex Zelahy 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      `I grew up with the beatles and many other british bands. It was a good time to hear great music that wasn't your fathers.

    • nikkiraeink profile image


      7 years ago from So. Cal.

      As an avid Elvis fan, I can't help thinking without the Beatles, his music would not have died while he was enlisted. However, I am also a Beatles fan and feel there isn't a band, past or present, that could compare lyrically.


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