Top 5 British Invasion Acts
BY STEVE PALEC
Entering the year 1964 as a 7-year-old in the Midwest, I really didn’t have a good handle on anything cool. If I did, it was an accident. But it was all about to change for the better.
My mother was from London, and in retrospect that was pretty cool. I didn’t know it at the time, since she was just my mom. On Feb. 9, 1964, she made sure I watched The Ed Sullivan Show. Now, most of America did that anyway. But she had a feeling I would enjoy the musical entertainment that evening. Not only was she right, but her foresight also allowed me to witness the single greatest musical transformation of my lifetime. That was day one of the British Invasion. Here we look at the top 25 British acts of all time.
1. THE BEATLES
Their debut on American TV that night technically was not their debut, since they had appeared prior to that. But it was a nuclear coming out … not only in terms of television, but also the impact on music, culture, fashion and attitudes. Simply put, by any definition the Beatles were a force and a phenomenon. Aside from the innovations and chances they took, their strength was the 300-some songs they recorded over their short career. For me personally, the timing was amazing. Just as I was old enough to appreciate music, they chronologically took me (and a few others) on a journey that saw each subsequent album growing musically in sophistication, creativity and impact.
2. THE ROLLING STONES
Some say the antithesis of the sweetness of the Beatles. Steeped in blues, they set the stage for what ultimately would be Led Zeppelin taking blues and making it a youthful industry. And the fact that the Stones are still going is insane.
3. THE WHO
The mop-top attitude of the Beatles was taken a huge step forward by the Mod attitude of The Who. And the concert experience, the concept albums, and the power of Pete Townshend’s writing also made them elite.
4. THE KINKS
“All Day and All of the Night” was made for transistor radios. Maybe the most British in attitude of all the British Invasion bands, it was a reflection of the genius of Ray Davies to write about things that were real (not always acceptable in the early ’60s).
5. THE YARDBIRDS
I already referenced Led Zeppelin, which would not evolve until much later. But it evolved from the growth of Jimmy Page. Page evolved after replacing Jeff Beck in this band. And Beck had replaced Eric Clapton. That’s like Mickey Mantle following Joe DiMaggio, who followed Babe Ruth.
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