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The Beatles, Gorbachov, Putin, Perestroika in the Russian Cultural Revolution

Updated on December 12, 2010

The Power of The Beatles' Music

There may be some or many out there who truly think The Beatles were overrated musically and that since that time there have been many, many bands, rappers, artists that are greater in talent. Most of these people are most likely unaware of the power The Beatles had over the youth. It remains incomprehensible even today. They touched every fabric of their lives in some way. Trying to explain this to anyone under 35 yrs. today is, in most cases, impossible.

Until the late 80's, The Beatle's music was either banned or difficult to obtain in Russia because Communism considered it subversive to its own youth culture. Their music was smuggled in by others as if they were smuggling in drugs and usually in the same manner or technique. It became easier due to the media it was on becoming smaller, yet, if caught, the person would suffer for it at the hands of the KGB. During the 60's, when the band was actually together, it was impossible to bring in a single or LP of The Beatles into Russia. It was not until the mid 70s, the Communists allowed some censored material to be licensed there. Yet, despite the efforts of the authorities, the youth of Russia knew of The Beatles, knew their names, their hair style, how they dressed, knew they were the best rock band from the West.

As the former Russian president, Gorbachov, said in 2004," The Beatles music was simply not pop music, it was showing the youth of Russia a glimpse of another world, a free world. The Beatles were revered by Russian youth and was much more than just music". He went on, "Before perestroika, it was difficult to stop a culture revolution in youth sparked by The Beatles. I myself, liked some of their songs".

Ironically, a more recent Russian president, Putin, who was 10 yrs. old in 1964, a man who went on into the KGB before being a president, was a Beatle fan. He admitted to listening to the BBC as a kid to hear The Beatles music secretly. Early photos of Putin in his teens clearly show the "Beatle" look. Putin went on to say that he started learning English from their songs and secretly wanted to be like them. When Paul McCartney played in Red Square in 2003, Putin was in audience as a fan. He clearly liked it, he and another 100,000 fans.

Even the current Defense Minister of Russia admitted he was a huge Beatle fan,again, he was 10 yrs old when The Beatles came out in 1964. He, like Putin, first heard the Beatles on the BBC shortwave secretly. He recalled hearing, "Love Me Do" and started to learn English by singing with the songs. He recalled seeing the first Beatle LP many years later. The impact on this age demographics is huge and these are men and women who now have real power to alter things. As even Putin acknowledged, "The Beatles meant freedom and their music was so different".

The Beatles never played in the USSR in the 60s. It was not until 2003, that Paul McCartney was invited to play in the Red Square in Moscow in front of a huge crowd of all age groups, few could speak English, yet most knew the words to The Beatle's songs. The Beatles helped Russia be free by impacting its youth who grew up to be its leaders with their music. Music is freedom by its nature and the Russian youth during the Communist regime worshipped rock music and The Beatles.


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 7 years ago

      That is one reason they are music legends!

    • moncrieff profile image

      moncrieff 7 years ago from New York, NY

      Good article. It's very strange how the music was officially looked down, yet at the same time it was secretly enjoyed by some in the low levels of the establishment. The Brezhnev administration, all born in the early 1900s, was deaf to that music. So it was the younger generations who tried to make things happen.

      I think the first Beatles song released in the USSR was 'Girl' in 1967. However, it was labeled as anonymous English folk song (sic!), no indication of the Beatles to be found. Only in the mid-70s were released a few more songs. But the youth, of course, listened to reel-to-reel tapes that allowed to transfer music from one source to another. The end listener might be listening to a tape recording that was 20 transfers away from the original vinyl LP.

      My mom draw pictures of the Beatles in her high school without even having heard their music, such was the impact, indeed!