But the success of the Beatles in 1964 led to US musical invasion by British bands. Many didn’t make it at all. Others had a minor hit. There were those who had one or two hits. And there were those (the Rolling Stones come to mind) who made life difficult for the Beatles. Some bands were hot for a couple of years (The Dave Clark Five) and then slowly faded into history. Does this mean that they didn’t have the talent of the Beatles?
The Dave Clark Five – Bits & Pieces – Top Of The Pops (1964)
The songs, by and large had to do with general themes. After all, the British were not interested in Vietnam or racial equality issues, and the Americans were (still) not that interested in politics at home.
On the following pages we bring some of the famous songs and bands of the British invasion. Of course it’s a personal selection. If you don’t like mine, why don’t you make your own book?
The Rolling Stones – The Stones, a more bluesy group than the Beatles, were London based. They were both friends and rivals. They were not the geniuses, not the musical revolutionaries that the Beatles were. But they are the band who is still around. Decca Records did sign THEM. Ironically the Beatles (John and Paul) gave them their a first hit.
Compare with the masters.
The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
The Stones had more sixties hits, including
Get Off of My Cloud (1965) …
Honky Tonk Woman (1969) …
Under My Thumb (1966) …
Jumping Jack Flash (1968) …
Paint It, Black (1966) …
You Can’t Always Get What You Want (1969)
Sympathy For The Devil (1968)
From the Big Chill (0:39)
The Who – The Story of how they became famous is now a movie, telling the tale of how Lambert and Stamp discovered them in order to make a movie about a rock band. We discuss them later in the course. I was fortunate (thanks for Jeff Pulver) to meet Stamp’s wife Calixte Stamp who is no longer with us.
I like this song, do you?
The Animals – Another bluesy band featuring a charismatic front man Eric Burdon, and with organ to boot. They had a couple of other hits (We gotta get out of this place; It’s my life; Don’t let me be misunderstood). Is that ‘enough’ for immortality? I guess it is.
Animals – House of the Rising Sun
Compare with the 1960 soulful recording of Joan Baez.
How about Gerry and the Pacemakers? Do you know who their manager was? They had a string of big hits but then went downhill in 1965 and dis-banded in 1966.
Their unlikely 1966 hit! Lady Godiva
The Yardbirds – A superband with legendary superstars:
They still had some major hits after he left…
The Kinks – What do you thinks?
I have met Donovan on several occasions and even sung with him (just the two of us). What an experience. Here are some of his more famous songs:
- Jennifer Juniper
- Hurdy Gurdy Man
- Mellow Yellow
- Yellow is the color
- Sunshine Superman
- Season of the Witch
- Catch the Wind
Donovan in Tel Aviv (four years ago) singing Donna Donna.
And this one didn’t become a hit, but it should have…
Compare with Santana cover?
Say what you will, but the Sixties wouldn’t have been the Sixties without the Cream.
And last, but not least, the Moody Blues who played their own songs. Their first LP “Days of Future Passed” was truly a theme album, following the evolution of a day from sunrise to nighttime. Worth listening to the overture at the beginning. Now you know that their megahit “Nights in White Satin” is part of a greater whole. The whole LP here.
Nights in White Satin, Moody Blues, 1967
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