Cultural impact of the Beatles

Cultural impact of the Beatles

The cultural impact of the Beatles was, and remains, immense. The effects of Beatlemania and their commercial success spurred many trends—including a shift from US global dominance of rock and roll to UK acts, from soloists to groups, from professional songwriters to self-penned songs, and to changes in fashion.


  • Beatlemania and the British Invasion 1
  • Music 2
    • Album format 2.1
    • Recording methods 2.2
    • Music videos 2.3
    • Cover versions 2.4
    • Live concerts 2.5
    • Beatlesque 2.6
      • Associated artists 2.6.1
  • Fashion 3
    • Haircut 3.1
    • Suits 3.2
    • Beatle boots 3.3
    • Other fashions 3.4
  • Appearances in popular culture 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Beatlemania and the British Invasion


Album format

During the early 1960s, record albums were of secondary consideration to singles ("45s") in mass marketing, generally devised to contain "filler" material along with one or two hits. As their career proceeded, however, The Beatles began to increasingly focus on the album as an artistic medium in its own right.

Recording methods

Music videos

Richard Lester received a formal letter from MTV declaring him the father of the modern pop video, for the work he did directing both of the early Beatles films, A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965). His revolutionary camera techniques together with short lines of dialogue and rapid editing cuts to the beat were all seen as the precursor to the modern rock video.

In the mid-1960s, The Beatles began filming promotional music videos for their songs, which they sent to television networks in lieu of appearing in person. Starting with the promotional clip for "Rain" in 1966, these films began using many techniques previously only seen in experimental film, such as intensive use of slow-motion and reversed film. This approach was further taken to new heights with the promo clip for "Strawberry Fields Forever", directed by Swedish television director Peter Goldman in January 1967 which, besides the techniques already seen in "Rain", also used intricate jump-cuts that rapidly alternated between night and day, switching colour temperature filters during the song's outro extensive post-production colour filtering and other avant-garde devices. These techniques were later copied and the use of such film and videos started the now common practice of releasing a video clip to accompany singles.

Cover versions

In May 1966, John Lennon said of people covering their songs, "Lack of feeling in an emotional sense is responsible for the way some singers do our songs. They don't understand and are too old to grasp the feeling. Beatles are really the only people who can play Beatle music."[1]

Live concerts

The Beatles were the first entertainment act to stage a large stadium concert. At Shea Stadium, New York City on Sunday, 15 August 1965 the group opened their 1965 North American tour to a record audience of 55,600. The event sold out in 17 minutes.[2] It was the first concert to be held at a major outdoor stadium and set records for attendance and revenue generation, demonstrating that outdoor concerts on a large scale could be successful and profitable. The Beatles returned to Shea for a very successful encore in August 1966.


ELO in 1978. The band was formed with the intention of "picking up where the Beatles left off".[3]

Beatlesque is a loose term which refers to music which sounds like the Beatles. It is widely used to an inconsistent degree, as the Toronto Star notes: "[some people's] notion of that sound includes everyone from Panic At The Disco! to Billy Joel to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. With those reference points, it’s debatable whether the Beatles themselves would qualify for the adjective their music has spawned."[4] After consulting producer Kevin Howlett, music professor Rob Bowman, and Klaatu drummer Terry Draper for the true meaning of the word, the three formed eight potential answers: "Penny Lane"-inspired piano; "the big ending"; bluegrass-influenced harmonies; "I Am the Walrus"-inspired cellos; the stylistic contrast between Lennon and McCartney; the left-handed, right-handed drumming; the listener's perception; or a simulacrum of the Beatles' reputed sound that ultimately means nothing.[4]

Associated artists



The mop-topped Beatles in 1964.

The Beatle haircut, also known as the "mop-top" (or moptop), because of its resemblance to a mop, or "Arthur" amongst fans,[nb 1] is a mid-length hairstyle named after and popularized by the Beatles, and widely mocked by many adults.[5] It is a straight cut – collar-length at the back and over the ears at the sides, with a straight fringe (bangs).[nb 2] Because of the immense popularity of the Beatles, the haircut was widely imitated worldwide between 1964 and 1966. Their hair-style led toy manufacturers to begin producing real-hair and plastic "Beatle Wigs". Lowell Toy Manufacturing Corp. of New York was licensed to make "the only AUTHENTIC Beatle Wig". There have been many attempts at counterfeiting, but in its original packaging this wig has become highly collectible.

Mikhail Safonov wrote in 2003 that in the Brezhnev-dominated Soviet Union, mimicking The Beatles' hairstyle was seen as extremely rebellious. Young people were called "hairies" by their elders, and were arrested and forced to have their hair cut in police stations.


In the early Beatle-mania years, The Beatles would occasionally wear black, and then later grey, Edwardian collarless suits.[6][7] This style of suit was adopted from the Mod youth cult, then at its peak in the UK.[8] These suits (instead of leather trousers, plaid shirts, and slacks) became extremely common for new bands to wear after 1964.

Beatle boots

A pair of Beatle boot replicas.

Beatle boots are tight-fitting, Cuban-heeled, ankle-length boots with a pointed toe. They originated in 1963 when Brian Epstein discovered Chelsea boots while browsing in the London footwear company Anello & Davide. He consequently commissioned four pairs (with the addition of Cuban heels) for the Beatles to complement their new suit image upon their return from Hamburg, who wore them under drainpipe trousers.[9]

Other fashions

The style of hat worn by Lennon and his wife Cynthia on the Beatles' tour of the U.S. in 1964 was adopted widely by both men and women. In 1966, during the filming of How I Won the War, Lennon adopted round, thin-rimmed "teashade glasses", which became a signature element of Lennon's look. This style of eyewear is still popularly known as "John Lennon glasses".

Appearances in popular culture


  1. ^ At a press conference at the
  2. ^ As a schoolboy in the mid '50s, Jürgen Vollmer had left his hair hanging down over his forehead one day after he had gone swimming, not bothering to style it. John Lennon is quoted in The Beatles Anthology as follows: "Jürgen had a flattened-down hairstyle with a fringe in the back, which we rather took to." In late 1961, Vollmer moved to Paris. McCartney said in a 1979 radio interview: "We saw a guy in Hamburg whose hair we liked. John and I were hitchhiking to Paris. We asked him to cut our hair like he cut his." McCartney also wrote in a letter to Vollmer in 1989: "George explained in a 60s interview that it was John and I having our hair cut in Paris which prompted him to do the same. ... We were the first to take the plunge."


  1. ^ "Flip Magazine, May 1966". Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  2. ^ The Beatles Off The Record. London:Omnibus Press p193. ISBN 0-7119-7985-5
  3. ^ Picking up where the Beatles left off ... Jeff Lynne and ELO. Photograph: Andre Csillag/Rex Alan McGee (16 October 2008). "ELO: The band the Beatles could have been". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Sakamoto, John (November 1, 2013). "What do we really mean by ‘Beatlesque’?".  
  5. ^ Gilliland 1969, show 27, track 4.
  6. ^ Miles. p77.
  7. ^ Beatles suits at
  8. ^ Hewitt, Paolo. 2003. The Soul Stylists: From Mod to Casual. Mainstream Publishing, UK.
  9. ^ Sims, Josh (1999). Rock Fashions.  

External links