Inspired by this thread, but not wanting to hijack…
What music would have existed in the past 40 years irrespective of whether the Beatles existed?
I’ll start with techno, electronic dance music of any kind, all traceable back to European geeks (Kraftwerk, basically) making weird sounds with primitive synthesisers. Without those guys, you’d have no sampling, no weird sounds, in general everything would have to sound as it did in the studio.
Inspired by this thread, but not wanting to hijack…
“Without The Beatles.” Wasn’t that the American pressing of “With The Beatles?”
I think that without the Beatles, we would have listened to “Sun Sessions” Elvis and Buddy Holly type music for a long time, probably right up until the eighties. Not that I don’t like and appreciate those artists, but I don’t think we would have had the rock innovation that we saw in the 60’s and 70’s without the Beatles. Sure, you could say, there would have been people like The Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd and whatnot, but I don’t think they would have ever hit the bigtime or mainstream without the foot-in-the-popular-music door that the Beatles provided. Start making a list of artists who have been influenced by the Beatles over the last forty years, and then remove them from the history of music and look at what you are left with.
I suppose that I didn’t really address the OP. Do you think that Kraftwerk would have done what they were doing without the influence of the Beatles? Do you think that they weren’t listening to “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Revolution 9” and “I Am The Walrus?”
I think you give them FAR too much credit.
They aren’t THAT important.
Errggg… Hit “Submit” too soon.
Think about this. The Beatles were all about sampling, weird sounds, making sure that things didn’t sound like they did in the studio. They were constantly experimenting to produce new sounds that weren’t standard instrumentation.
They really ARE that important.
I think we would still have electronic music. I don’t know if it would have been worked into a poppier format though.
Bob Dylan wouldn’t have gone electric.
Syd Barrett wouldn’t have made music, or at least nothing as interesting.
Music from the UK wouldn’t be taken seriously. Even if the other British invasion groups magically managed to exist, no one would have cared about them.
Somebody else would’ve done it.
Yes, probably, but that might have taken a long time, or maybe not done as well.
I really doubt that. White kids in America were getting into the blues and the kids in England were already playing it. That music was going to find its audience. I think things would’ve been different because few bands had the desire for experimenting that the Beatles did, or the combined songwriting talents, but there would’ve been a British invasion of some sort.
I think it’s possible that the music scene in America would have continued with the manufactured teen-idol singer and girl groups for quite awhile longer. Folk music may have gained more popularity. Elvis would still have made those assembly-line records and career-wrecking movies. Motown was already happening, and they had their formula down by 1964. Soul singers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson would still have been popular. James Brown would still have been TGOS. The Beach Boys would still have happened, although where they would have gone from surfin’ and cars and girls is anybody’s guess, without The Beatles to spur Brian Wilson to new heights.
There would definitely have been a vibrant pop music scene in the US without The Beatles, but without those thousands of boys wanting to take up instruments in emulation, who can say what direction it might have taken.
Here’s a BIG distinction: without the example of the Beatles, few if any groups/artists would’ve written their own material. Sure, there was Dylan, but as dry gear points out, he would never have gone electric without the energy and innovation of the Beatles to spur him on. Pop music would have largely remained (more than it already has) in the control of producers, managers, and Brill Building songwriters, who by their nature are far more interested in making a hit than in making something new and innovative for its own sake.
I usually don’t respond to these threads because the truth of the matter is that if everything changed, everything would be different. Beyond that triteness, anything is possible. Some things may have still occurred, most things would be entirely new.
But there’s one thing that can be said. Probably.
What made rock so interesting for a while was its willingness to swallow up everything that had ever been done in music before it.
The Beatles themselves used r&b, country, Tin Pan Alley, Broadway show tunes, english music hall, blues, classical, Indian, and half a dozen more types of music to make theirs. Groups, especially British groups, did a lot more of this before punk spoiled everything.
Before and for a while after the Beatles hit the U.S., this influence blending was limited at best in American pop. My guess is that without the Beatles, the music world would look like today’s hugely fragmented sounds a lot earlier than it happened in our reality.
What those disparate sounds might sound like is anybody’s guess, though.
I’m no expert, but weren’t a lot of other ‘big name’ musicians from today’s perspective playing their instruments already when the Beatles hit the big time? I mean, The Who formed in ‘64, the Yardbirds were around, and all sorts of other folks who were primed and ready to go, and were innovators in their own right (the Beatles don’t have the monopoly on creativity in the 60s). Things would be different, and I can’t deny their influence, and I love them, but I think that the doom and gloom predictions are unfounded. Brittain was going to happen to America soon, regardless of who. As Sam Cooke said, "it’s been a long time comin’, but I know a change gonna come, yes it is."
Yes, you might be right. But I meant, at the time, there wasn’t really much pop music outside of America, especially rock. The Beatles helped a lot in breaking that one-way barrier.
Nonsuch, thank you. That’s exactly what I was trying to say.
I honestly don’t know a whole lot about this, but 1963 was when The Beatles released their first album. Beatlemania started in '64.
Also, even if they haven’t heard the Beatles before they started, The Beatles could still have influenced them.
Mick Jagger has said to John Lennon that Lennon made his success possible.
The Beach Boys released their first album before most people had heard of The Beatles, but The Beatles still influenced the Beach Boys after they heard their music.
The Beatles influenced Bob Dylan, and he moved toward rock, and then he in turn influenced The Beatles. Kind of funny. The same thing happened to the Beach Boys.
The problem with talking about what rock music would have become is that before the Beatles it wasn’t well defined.
There were two major and separate strands that formed rock. In one set of precursors - blues, r&b, country, and folk - it was the standard for musicians to write their own songs - although, like today, they swapped them incessantly - and also to play their own instruments, usually in groups. It was only in the pop precursor that artists were developed by their producers, who found the material and hired the musicians to play background.
Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and the Brian Wilson all were playing their own compositions in their own bands before the Beatles. (Elvis was a hybrid, with a set band but other peoples’ music.) They were important and somewhat influential, but they were up against the wildly successful producer/writers like the Brill Building teams and - just a bit later - Motown.
Looking at the top songs from the early 60s (plus a couple from the late 50s) brings up lots of surprises, mostly of how little was rock as we remember it today. Big band instrumentals were still huge: Lawrence Welk, Percy Faith, Acker Bilk, Bert Kaempfert, and David Rose all had number ones. Catchy songs in other languages had a rage: “Volare,” “Sukiyaki,” and “Dominique.” Artists still covered standards: “Georgia on My Mind,” “Blue Moon,” “Mack the Knife.” Folk was the most important music for college-agers, but novelty songs were all over the charts: “Running Bear,” “Alley-Oop,” “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” and “Mr. Custer” within a few months of each other in 1960. (Not to mention The Twist, The Twist, and The Twist.) Comedy records could go to the top of the album charts.
But surprising people also had number ones with their own material. Dion with “Runaround Sue,” Jimmy Dean with “Big Bad John” (lots of country on the pop charts in those days); Joey Dee with “The Peppermint Twist;” Bruce Channel with “Hey Baby;” Tommy Roe with “Sheila;” to name a few.
It’s hard to imagine how 1964 would have been any different than this if it weren’t for the Beatles. No British invasion would have been possible then. Maybe a few years later after San Franciscan bands introduced psychedelic music a few Brits could have been discovered.
The Beatles changed everything. They really did.
Beatlemania in Britain was certainly a 1963 phenomenon, and there’s no doubt that the Beatles’ success, and the concomitant craze for beat music they inspired, paved the way for the Stones, the High Numbers, the Animals, the Hollies, and all the other British bands that followed in their wake.