The Beatles and the Rolling Stones
The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were nothing more than accidents waiting to happen.
Even though Rock and Roll in the United States had been suppressed nearly to the point of extinction, the powers that be failed to realize that this music had already infected the rest of the world. They were also afraid to admit to themselves, or more likely were mired in a great collective denial that it was not already too late to stop it.
On the West Coast, the Beach Boys were beginning to sing about the carefree California lifestyle of surfing and drag racing. Then like a second invasion of Normandy, the ghost-like musical heritage of American Rock’s prior generation had crossed the Atlantic to liberate the minds of a few scruffy street musicians who passionately decided to revive it.
Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had neglected to become vaccinated against this musical “cancer,” so when the music got under their skin and then into their blood, it germinated, grew and blossomed. Then before long these musicians changed the world forever.
The two bands formed by these individuals had scooped up the ashes from the funeral pyres of J. Edgar Hoover’s rampage through the American music industry. And being geographically enough at arm’s length from the oppressive American political climate, had then been able to resurrect an unstoppable Phoenix.
It was the equivalent of a musical Second Coming.
Then just like God and the Devil, it soon became obvious that the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were diametric polar opposites.
The Beatles dressed in neat, uniform cookie-cut suits with tight pant legs and black pointed leather boots. They played original, clean lyrical music with a somewhat tame, polite demeanor, and curtsied when they finished a song. The Mersey beat music was new, fresh, and pleasant; having a peculiarly unique sound that had never been heard before, albeit interlaced with a few haunting Buddy Holly tunes or similar refrains.
The Stones appearance on the other hand was scruffy, wild, more colorful, more individualized and more outlandish. They played a venue of recycled Black American Blues, which eventually became blended with their own unique style of raunchy Rock.
Having a raw edge, they were rougher and tougher than the Beatles Yet for some intangible reason, possibly rooted in White repression and repressed bigotry, it seemed easier for the American public to accept an English band playing “The Little Red Rooster” than it would have been to embrace the on stage presence of it’s original black author, Howlin’ Wolf, who had composed the song over a generation before.
It was actually this contrasting style in both appearance and in musical venues that created the basis for the ever-escalating popularity or the two groups, as adolescents seemed to identify with or to gravitate more to one than to the other.
Although the bands were cast somewhat as polar opposites, cults and subcultures were beginning to develop as they generated great immediate controversy, along with universal fear in the minds of the White middle class. It was a sneak attack on the soft underbelly of America, only because they became so enormously popular so fast.
Ultimately no matter how it was sliced , the unifying element that portended the new corruptive ruination of America’s youth was not so much what these groups sang, how they sang it or whether the clothes were nice, neat or scruffy and disheveled.
The principal feature predicting a new rallying point for America’s youth was imparted in a key part of the haberdashery which had nothing to do with the clothing. It was something America’s youth could identify with, and something which would allow for a unique form of adolescent rebellion that would particularly yet definitively distinguish the old from the young without the limiting rebellious outlaw image that had been cast by the motor-cycle riding James Dean or by the crazed ramblings of the disaffected author Jack Kerouac.
What was uniquely different resided on their heads; that awful decidedly sexy styling that flopped and shook, partially covering their eyes and ears as they pranced around on stage, occasionally looking like a kennel of shaggy sheep dogs. It was the Pudding Basin haircuts that finally put the audience over the edge as it caused hysterical mass frenzies in the teenaged female population.
Shaking manes and cute suits had replaced the Duck’s Ass slick back coif and the Elvis pelvis as the new sex symbol for the girls, while bawdy blues with a raunchy casual delivery had created a new masculine icon for the boys.
Viewed either as a blessing by some and a curse by others; meaning either as repayment for the Allied liberation of Europe in World War II, or as the penultimate revenge for the British Army’s defeat in the U.S. Revolution, history had now come full circle with all the favors being returned. But this time the troops on the beachheads were armed with guitars, drums and amplifiers instead of cannons, M-15s, machine guns and tanks.
The genie was out of the bottle for good. The Liverpool Mop-head Mods and the British Bad Boy Rockers had invaded America.
Rock n’ roll is here to stay,
It will never die.
It was meant to be that way,
Though I don’t know why.
I don’t care what people say,
Rock n’ roll is here to stay.
We don’t care what people say,
Rock and Roll is here to stay.
(Danny and the Juniors)
|Photo source. The Lindey||www.swingdanceshop.com|