How influential were the Beatles, musically?

Now, I like the Beatles as much as the next man, but it seems to me that musically they didn’t have as huge an influence on what followed them as their towering reputation might suggest. When you think of the classic sound of the later sixties and seventies - it’s more akin to the blues-rock pioneered by acts like the Yardbirds, Cream, Led Zeppelin, a style already emerging in the early sixties and not closely related to the purer pop the Beatles were making at that time.

Not many acts of the late sixties or after really sound like the Beatles - ELO, maybe people like Roy Wood, much later Oasis and some other Britpop bands. And you can probably hear a McCartney influence in singer-songwriters like Billy Joel and Gilbert O’Sullivan.

The Beatles’ huge success did make it acceptable, de rigeur even, for artists to write their own material, so they deserve credit for that. But their musical style seems to have been a bit of a cul-de-sac. Maybe nobody dared copy them too blatantly?

They popularized and/or outright invented a lot of studio techniques that following artists used (and some still use today), such as looping, multi-tracking and playing with pitch & tone, etc.

Any following artists who may utilize these techniques (or build on their principles) won’t necessarily *sound *like the Beatles though. Just because a popular style of music immediately after the Beatles wasn’t Beatle-esque in sound doesn’t mean they didn’t influence how it was made.

Led Zeppelin got the big bass drum sound for “When The Levee Breaks” by placing John Bonham at the end of the hall and (IIRC) recording him from several different angles with several different mics. This is similar to how the Beatles came up with crazy sounds by not limiting themselves to the studio. They did stuff like this all the time.

Did Led Zeppelin sit down and say “OK, let’s do something like the Beatles…” Surely not. But perhaps they decided it was OK to try and do something different because the Beatles did.
It’s like saying the guy who invented water shouldn’t get credit for beer; but without water beer wouldn’t exist.

Well, they had a tremendous influence on me! I was nine years old when I first heard I Want To Hold Your Hand in December 1963. The Beatles’ music was the first music that made me want to play and sing. By the time I was thirteen, I was in a band, and I’ve been playing and singing for fun and profit ever since. I know that this is not the kind of influence that the OP is asking about, but I think that had this kind of influence on a lot of people. I also think that they made it possible for the more influential bands, in the OP’s opinion, to have access to the US market.

Question: WHICH Beatles are you asking about?

I mean, “Meet the Beatles” didn’t sound much like “Rubber Soul,” which didn’t sound much like The White Album. The Beatles reinvented themselves regularly. That made duplicating them difficult, because a band that could imitate the early sound (say, the Knickerbockers) couldn’t keep it up long.

I don’t really know how you can sound like the Beatles. Did they really have a consistent sound? The Beatles sound most people would pin on them would probably be the Help era stuff. A friend I visited last month called Tomorrow Never Knows the ‘Chemical Brothers’ Beatles song when it came over on the stereo.

Influence goes down deeper than just sounding similar. Something like 3 of 4 members of Queen cited the Beatles as their favorite band. Do Queen sound anything like the Beatles? Does Hendrix?

At the highest level, I guess I would say that the Beatles made it respectible to be a rock band - establishing rock as a credible art form, not a teeny-bopper pop confection - and made it acceptable to expect sonic experimentation in the studio production work of commercial rock music.

How many bands blasted through the door those two factors opened up?

As for music, they touched on so many styles that its more like they shot off tangents song by song. Think about Hide Your Love Away contributing to the emergence of singer/songwriter, Drive My Car and power/pop, Day Tripper and hard rock, Tomorrow Never Knows and psychedelia, Sgt Pepper and concept albums, and on and on and on…
Just some initial thinking…

Hard to say. Kind of like Nirvana is the first monster band of the 90s but Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains seem to be more influential due to their longevity.

Certainly the early era Beatles stuff didn’t really break much new ground with solid twelve bar blues motif applied with harmony vocals and a rock feel. But later they wandered all over the map.

Though again, the brevity works against them. It might be safer to say that Led Zeppelin inspired a lot more bands through the 70s and early 80s just because they were around a lot more.

Listen to any pop act today and you’ll hear the Beatles. Their influence is so pervasive that it’s hard to see it. They pioneers so many different styles and techniques that just about anyone performing today ends up following in their footsteps, even if they don’t realize it (though mostly they do).

What I’m saying is that the Beatles were a catalyst, sure, helping to open other creative people’s minds to the possibilities of songwriting and studio techniques, but in terms of basic musical styles, they weren’t as seminal. Some of the things they tried later on were, if anything, examples of them being influenced by their contemporaries.

From 1965 onwards there was a flood of new creative talent making pop music unlike anything heard before. You know their names so I won’t list them. But listening to them, I don’t especially hear a Beatles influence in their music, and as I said I think the signature “sound” of the later sixties and beyond is not that (or should I say, not one of those) of the Beatles. They were always slightly outside the mainstream.

The Beatles’ Influences from music to culture.

In all my years of being a Beatlemaniac, I’ve never stopped to wonder WHY the Beatles were so influential. It could be that they were constantly changing, constantly re-inventing themselves until they just ran out of things to be and went their separate ways. Their popularity made me aware, for the first time, of the versatility of the 3-strings-and-a-trap-set form of pop/rock dance band. Not that that hadn’t been done before (with variations) but the Beatles were so fantastically successful with it that it became the standard for a band.

Over the course of their existence, though, I think the Beatles had more influence for reasons **RumMunkey ** and **Astorian ** have discussed. Their albums alll were so different from the others, we couldn’t wait to see what they were going to do next. “Revolver” is always touted as a great turning point in rock/pop music, and certainly it was a turning point in the Beatles’ career. But “Sergeant Pepper,” “Rubber Soul” and the white album each was unique. Compare them with the other giant bands of that era, most notably the Rolling Stones, and you’ll see pretty much the same thing over and over again.

Sort of like saying, “If you ignore all their influence, they’re not very influential.”

Though the Beatles often borrowed from others, they were the ones who popularized many of these things. Sgt. Pepper may not have been the first concept album, but it was one of the first, and started getting people to think of albums as an unit instead of a collection of singles. This was a major change in 1967.

Similarly, The White Album was a switch away from Sgt. Pepper and to more simple sounding production and tunes. Hell, The White Album shows so much variety of form that you hear echoes in it in just about anything today.

Yes – they were in the vanguard, and the mainstream followed them. Most of those groups you say you don’t hear a Beatles influence on would tell you just how much they were influenced by the Beatles.

The Beatles didn’t have just one style, so it’s not possible to list bands who played “Beatles Style” music. But their originality was the big influence.

The Beatles had the same rock & roll, r&B roots as other British bands. But they also wrote songs & had a smart manager who packaged them to appeal to the teeny-boppers. The Kinks, The Who & The Stones came from similar backgrounds & also had hip publicists/managers. The Beatles may have been #1, but they weren’t the only ones doing it in the UK.

Let’s move on to the stuff I, personally, remember.

Back in the USA, “the heinous Frankie/Bobbies of South Philly” were churning out hits, Elvis having been drafted, Buddy having been killed, Jerry Lee having been shunned because of marrying his underage cousin, etc. “Serious” young white Americans were strummin’ their folkie guitars. (However, we could still hear R&B by switching stations. All was not lost.)

Then the Beatles hit the USA, with smart original songs & lots of publicity. Some of those folkies thought that looked like fun, so they plugged in their guitars & turned on the juice. (Quite a few of them had high-school garage bands in their past, even if they pretended they’d spent those years hitchin’ down Highway 61.) Folk rock & “psychedelic” rock were some of the results. (Other definitions of Turn On arose simultaneously, but that’s another story.)

In my opinion, George Martin’s production was a giant influence. Previous LP’s had been collections of hits & b-sides. But he made each one a work of art. (Thankfully, Concept Albums remain rarities. After all, Sgt Pepper definitely led to Their Satanic Majesties.)

Something this wikipedia article neglects to mention is the concert tour itself. The Beatles invented and defined the rock and roll tour, and theirs are the pinnacle even to this day, and by far. Pure, out-of-control excitement. Just ask anyone who attended a concert. A woman I work with went to two, and I have never heard any other concert-experience described with such passion. They were 40 years ago.

That may not quite conform to the idea of the OP’s title, “How influential were the The Beatles, musically,” so here’s another thought. When I hear a John Lennon song from his solo years, like #9 Dream, Woman, Mind Games, Watching the Wheels, I am alway struck by how contemporary and new the sound, as if it might have just been released. (Paul’s solo songs never achieve that.) We can think of John as ahead of his time, or just that later singer-songwriters embraced so many elements of his sound, he still sounds new. That’s a way I view his influence.

By the way, the wikipedia article quotes John: “Beatles are really the only people who can play Beatle music.” John refers here to his group as Beatles, not The Beatles. It occurs to me he did the same in the song God in the line, “I don’t believe in Beatles.” I wonder if he always did that. “The Beatles,” in any case, is the greatest musical group name ever. It’s not easy to think of areas The Beatles did not influence everything that followed.

Older, related thread: what were the Beatles first of anybody to do?

My nephew, Michael, mentions:
One that comes to mind right away that I heard in the car was a song by the Foo Fighters song called “Big Me”. It sounds like the Beatles circa 65’. Specifically, the singer uses a McCartney vocal style, the guitar amps have that distinctive Vox tone and the melody could be right off of Help!

“Blues-rock pioneered by…Yardbirds, Cream, Led Zep?” Not exactly. All those lads were eagerly devouring records by Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Robert Johnson. Waters and Williamson were already electric; Johnson had died after making just a handful of tracks, pre-electric.

No musician pops out of a vacuum, of course. Those bands, and of course the Rolling Stones, were trying to be American blues bands, but much louder and with bigger drums. The Beatles, though were steeped in Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and a flock of American girl groups. For a few songs, Paul slipped into his “Elvis voice.” After the boys heard Bob Dylan, his influence was clearly in there. The Beatles weren’t copycats. They took those influences to places nobody had ever seen before. It was a long, complicated journey from The Quarrymen to the end of the Beatles.

That’s my opinion.

These vague definitions of genres dog all discussions about music. By “blues-rock” I meant to exclude earlier acts such as Muddy Waters, but apparently under your definition I failed.

If we’re talking about “influence,” and not “inspiring direct copycatting,” well, both Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy Kilmister cite the Beatles as their favorite band of all time, and the reason they originally got into playing music. Between Black Sabbath and Motorhead, we have the entire genre of heavy metal pretty much at the trunk. :slight_smile:

And the Beatles also incorporated a lot of traditional British dancehall, classical and brass band music (The White Album and Sgt. Peppers show a lot of this influence.)