The Popular Bands of the British Invasion

by Dale Yelich
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It has been said that the British invasion of musical artists began February 7th, 1964 when the Beatles touched down in New York on that day. Since that time, the British invasion has become legendary for anyone interested in the pop music scene of that era, and I will give list of some of the most popular groups, some tidbits of trivia, and their influences on the pop music scene.

One thing that must be gotten straight is that, in all actuality, a singer named Dusty Springfield singing, "I Only Want To Be With You" and a group called The Searchers singing 'Sugar and Spice', actually cracked into the pop music charts in '63, months before the Beatles landed on the shores of America, and could essentially be considered as the true beginning to the British invasion. Regardless, for histories sake, we shall begin with The Beatles.

The Beatles--Not much needs to said about the Beatles except that they changed music and the way it was presented, they changed fashion, they changed the way we thought about perceptions and ideas, and essentially, in a broad sense, they changed the world as we knew it. No other band has ever meant so much to the world of music and art, and no one can ever mention the 60's without mentioning The Beatles side by side.

Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas—managed by Brian Epstein of the Beatles, and possibly the second of the British bands to make it to America.

The Rolling Stones—The anti-Beatles whose scruffy look was in marked contrast to the Fab Fours clean and polished appearance. They became a force unto their own right, and are still performing to this day.

The Kinks—Began by the Davies brothers, Ray and Dave, and were considered the hardest driving rock and roll musicians during the invasion.

The Dave Clark 5—Few other bands can lay claim to being as popular as The Beatles, but for a brief period of time in '64 and '65, The Dave Clark 5 were it. They had the second chart hit for an invasion band, 'Glad All Over" and introduced the 'Tottenham Sound' to the world of music.

Peter and Gordon—An invasion duo that sang songs written by Paul McCartney. Peter's sister Jane was Paul's girlfriend, and as a result, he supplied them with songs such as 'A World Without Love' and 'Woman'. When the Paul/Jane relationship ended, so essentially did the career of Peter and Gordon.

The Yardbirds—Perhaps the most fertile group to introduce new guitar talent. Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page were all part of the early Yardbirds at one time or another, and they were pioneers in nearly every type of guitar innovation for the day, like fuzz tone and distortion.

Gerry and the Pacemakers—Another Brian Epstein managed band that was part of 'The Mersy Beat' sound. Perhaps their biggest claim to fame is the recording of 'How Do You Do' it, a song originally turned down by The Beatles because they didn't care for it. The Pacemakers rocketed to the top of the charts with that song.

Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders—'The Game of Love' was their only real hit with Wayne Fontana. In a fit of frustration, Wayne walked off stage at a concert in '65, the band renamed themselves just 'The Mindbenders' and came out with their last big hit called, 'Groovy Kind of Love'

Chad and Jeremy—Another invasion duo that was geared more towards folk rock than true rock and roll. Their contribution called 'A Summer Song' is considered a classic acoustic number from that era, and they are still performing to this day.

Herman's Hermits—The Hermits came on the heels of the British invasion, when the ways of music were already changing. As other bands began to move to more experimental venues, Herman's Hermits survived by still singing mostly bubblegum songs, and looking the part as well. They were easy to look at, had an easy sound, and as the Beatles and others went off into the stratosphere with their music, The Hermits kept the original British invasion pop sound alive and well.

I am sure that I have missed a few of the bands back then, please forgive me as this is not a precise listing of every band to hit the shores. However, I do believe that this does provide a good overview and a few tidbits for anyone interested in the phenomenon known as The British Invasion.

Dale Yelich has been a creative freelance writer for over 25 years. Among all of his other writing projects, he is currently authoring a maintenance column for the LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Tribune, and you may read those articles at this link.

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