Music British Invasion

Music: British Invasion

The British Invasion marked a remarkable revolution in the history of American music. The music industry in America was on a slow track and the Invasion saw music groups from England experience major breakthroughs in the United States. The radio waves were constantly dominated by these music groups. The Invasion was fueled by record companies that produced tamer and lower quality of music. This made the teenagers who loved pop idols like Fabian and Frankie Avalon start to lose interest in pop music. Many began to develop a liking for folk and jazz music. Artists like Brian Hyland and David Seville attempted to revive the industry with songs like “Witch Doctor” and “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” without success. In British, the music industry was also dragging slowly through the years, with music from Elvis Presley and Acker Bilk. In the mid-60’s, the pop musicians in British created a music craze behind artists like Lonnie Donegan, Silver Beatles and Quarrymen. These artists and many others then moved to the United States airwaves and before long, all radio stations were playing music by British artists. This was a unique phenomenon since the American music industry had never recorded British artists on all top music rating sites like Billboard awards and top hits (Schaffner, 3).

When talking about the British Invasion, mentioning the Beatles is inevitable. They were the face of rock and roll and remain recognized to date. They were, however, preceded by Dusty Springfield with her single “I only Want To Be With You.” The Beatles opened up American music industry to the British and brought with them the real feel of rock and roll (Schaffner, 11).Rock and roll marked the first school of American music while American blues marked the other. Rock and roll was a musical style that developed from the black population. The black people used rhythmic elements in oral storytelling that eventually influenced rock and roll. Slavery saw them interact with white people and consequently other styles of music like ballad. Soon, black artists began to integrate their music with that of the whites. The black artists used this music as a way to appeal to the white people to increase social interactions through activities like dancing. The music appealed to white teenagers and with the coming of British artists that better played and expressed rock and roll, the school of music became a sensation. Over time, rockers have replicated, expanded and exploded the boundaries of the genre. The music style involved a combination of African American rhythm and blues and American country music. The lead instrument was a guitar and music was played with a backbeat produced by a snare drum. Examples of great rock and roll bands are The Rolling Stones,The Beatles and The Yardbirds, while some great songs include “Put Your Hand in The Hand”, “Yesterday’s Papers”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, and “Got to Hurry.”

American blues also characterized the British Invasion, as a school of music. Though subtle, this music has grown over generations and managed to maintain its uniqueness (Schwartz, 244). American blues originated from the black population of African slaves south of the United States. It was a musical genre that soothed them through the challenges. Blues refer to a musical combination of African field hollers and work songs. American blues is a musical style that uses slow beats and meaningful lyrics. Initially, blues were meant for the African American audience after combining with gospel music. Blues slowly faded into the background as other blues styles like boogie-woogie and rhythm and blues.Pure blues faded until the British Invasion. British artists realized the power of American Blues and worked with American artists like Robert Johnson and John Lee Hooker to create British blues. This came after the war and Americans were at a vulnerable position and blues became very popular. American blues music style used the blue note that made this genre unique. British borrowed from American blues lyrics so as to ensure relevance of their music in the industry. Thy also used the AAB form of blues in rock and roll songs.After the war, blues began to fade into the background but paved the way for rock and roll. British blues developed because bands like The Rolling Stones played American blues in festivals and events. The members of rock and roll bands asked great singers of American blues to sing in their rock and roll songs. This is because American blues were an American favorite that guaranteed a large audience. Collaborations of artists in both genres gave music by British artists an advantage in the American music industry (Baker, 6). Examples of bands that specialized in this music include, The Animals, The Rolling Stones and Rory Gallagher. Some great blues songs are “Red House”, “It’s my Own Fault” and “Hellhound on My Trail.”

It is intriguing that Great Britain could use two different approaches to imitate American music. The non-committal candor of major record companies when dealing with American artists influenced this musical phenomenon. American artists were struggling to create music that would bring new life to the music industry but major record companies like King’s Record and Vee-jay were focused on other priorities. The companies were more interested in making money than producing good music. As the British Invasion began to pick up pace, British artists had to create music that the record companies would love to air. They therefore opted to imitate American music to get airtime on American airwaves. The need for diversity and the constant changes to music production pushed British artists into imitating two genres. Since American Blues and Rock & Roll were musical styles closest to British music, they adopted both approaches.

Both genres of music accrue their origin to back population of the African slaves who later intermarried with Americans and became African Americans. In transportations of slaves, they would pass through British before moving on to America. These exposed British artists to the two approaches, enabling them imitate American music.

Many artists used music styles already in existence to create their music, for example, ballad, jazz, pop and country. Great Britain was a country overwhelmed with ideas and energy. The music industry was one of the avenues the country expressed itself and invading American airwaves marked a victory for the country.

The British Invasion was a phenomenon that surprised America but was welcome because it included American culture expressed in music. The music schools characterized in the British Invasion were rock and roll and American blues. They used unique American template especially in the musical style with rock and roll using the guitar as a lead instrument and American blues using the blue notes. The British invasion eventually created music that combined the different styles and is highly appreciated to date.

Works Cited

Schaffner, Nicholas. The British Invasion: From the First Wave to the New Wave. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982. Print.

Schwartz, Roberta F. How Britain Got the Blues: The Transmission and Reception of American Blues Style in the United Kingdom. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007. Print.

Baker, Houston A. Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. Print.