How British groups were astounded by pizza, skyscrapers and real cowboys while America fell in love with a curious blend of swinging London and ye olde England.
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America - the promised land for British youth in the '60s.
I mean, America's the Holy Grail. For music, for us.
From 1964 onwards, a group of British pioneers would get in their covered wagons and go west.
# I wanna hold your hand... #
It was such a thrill to actually go to play in America
and do a little bit of research,
blues clubs, things like that, it was just...like heaven.
The British Invasion would export a new brand of youth to the States.
The Hollies. Ooh!
And that's just a few.
Made Bob Dylan and Elvis a bit shaky.
This is how the Brits rocked America in the '60s.
# I can't hide
# Yeah you got that something
# I think you'll understand
# When I say that something
# I want to hold your hand... #
MUSIC: "Back In The USA" by Chuck Berry
In the 1950s, we were living in a new world order.
# Oh well oh well I feel so good today... #
The sun had set on the British Empire,
whilst our American saviours had become the dominant world power.
# Jet propelled back home from overseas to the USA
# New York, Los Angeles Oh how I yearn for you... #
We were poor and they were rich,
and as we couldn't afford the air fare, American rock'n'roll was one of the key portals
through which we could explore this exciting new world.
We heard those Chuck Berry records when we were at school.
He'd tell these stories, Back In The USA, where he's talking about a hamburger sizzling
night and day, we really didn't have hamburgers over here at that time.
# Did I miss the skyscrapers? Did I miss the long freeway?
# Uh huh huh, oh yeah
# From the coast of California to the shores of the Delaware Bay... #
The whole lifestyle that he was putting forward,
and the enthusiasm, the drive of his music...
It built up this wonderful picture
of this Mecca, if you like, of music.
And attitude and freedom.
And whether it was or wasn't, this is what we all believed.
# Looking hard for a drive-in, searching for a corner cafe... #
It was just absolute magic.
# Where hamburgers sizzle on an open grill night and day... #
However, by 1963, American rock'n'roll actually looked like this.
# Now I love a girl and Ruby is her name
# Hear me talking... #
It was teenagers writing for a teenage market.
# What I say, whoah oh, Ruby, Ruby
# How I want ya
# Like a ghost I'm-a gonna haunt ya
# Ruby, Ruby, Ruby will you be mine? #
There were many of us solo American singers,
Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, Fabian,
it was rock'n'roll, but mine was I think more special material.
-You start the year off fine
-You're my little Valentine
-I'm gonna march you down the aisle... #
American pop had ground to a halt.
The original energy and thrill of rock'n'roll had dissipated
and had been replaced by an ersatz replica.
It was a perfectly safe, grown-up soundtrack
for the Mad Men era.
The kind of classic rock'n'roll guys,
Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard and even Elvis to a degree,
had kind of been swept aside.
Elvis had gone into the Army and become safe.
Chuck Berry had been arrested,
Jerry Lee Lewis had this scandal with his younger cousin.
They'd been sidelined and music had become a lot safer.
American pop was self-absorbed.
Short-lived trends like preppy surf music
meant all eyes were on the West Coast.
Nobody so much as thought of looking east, towards the old country.
There was no sense that these bands or musicians
were going to be around for a long time and be artists.
You're just ready for the next thing all the time
and the next thing was always America.
# Everybody's gone surfin'
# Surfing USA
# Everybody's gone surfin'
# Surfing USA. #
Whether it was going to be the Beach boys,
having some hits in the early '60s and introducing a new sound.
The idea that someone would come from England and enrich rock'n'roll
it was literally inconceivable.
You couldn't formulate that idea. There was no basis for it.
So on February 7th 1964,
Britain's hottest rock'n'roll act would set off for America
with modest expectations.
How could a band from the crumbling, grey old country,
hope to have any effect,
on what to the Beatles, was the capital of their world?
America, it's where it all came from.
It's like blues, rock'n'roll, Elvis, the whole thing.
Before that even, the Fred Astaire thing,
it's always been coming out of America.
First memory was getting off the plane
in New York to a screaming mob that we didn't expect.
What had happened was we'd heard about it on the plane.
The pilot had radioed and said, "It's crazy here."
The journalists heard about that and they said, "It's crazy there."
We got off the plane, waving. It indeed was crazy.
The Beatles' ecstatic welcome
had been preceded by I Want To Hold Your Hand,
which had topped the US chart a few weeks prior.
With their cheek and lack of deference
to the patriarchal American media,
the Beatles seemed to be from another planet.
There's a question, would you be quiet, please?
-Would you please sing something?
-But you can sing.
-No, we need money first.
-Are you going to get a haircut?
-I had one yesterday.
My brother and I were just in a studio.
The telephone rings, I pick it up.
Grenada Television is on the other line
asking if I'd be interested in making a film of the Beatles.
They'll be arriving in two hours.
I turned to my brother and said,
"Who're the Beatles? Are they any good?"
# How could I dance with another?
# Oooh When I saw her standing there. #
I had a producer on board,
so we had no difficulty at all in meeting the Beatles
and being with them day and night for a whole week.
# I fall in love with her
# She wouldn't dance with another... #
We loved it.
New York, baby.
We were in the back of a car and we'd have a little tranny radio
and you'd hear WINS.
"Here we are, the Beatles are coming..."
We'd go, "We're on the radio!"
We're on the radio. Look at the big buildings.
It's New York and they're talking about us on the radio.
'Tomorrow night from 7 to 8... '
We used to phone in the radio stations and they loved it.
"I've got a Beatle on the line."
Murray the K was one of the guys who kind of adopted us.
I want to tell everybody, this is the Beatles station.
They're telling us what to play.
I've got more one-week of this
and I'm going to become the fifth Beatle, baby. All right?
OK, this is Paul McCartney, on WINS,
and it's Marvin Gaye, singing, Pride and Joy.
Yeah, baby, you got it.
America was still stuck in the '50s,
but in the UK,
a Beatle-led youth revolution was in full swing by 1964.
American kids were a year behind
and they marvelled at these strange-looking Brits.
The Beatles were equally shocked by the state of American youth.
We felt it was a little bit backward.
It hadn't had the youth revolution that we'd had in the UK
and in Europe.
I remember talking to fans and things and asking them questions.
What about your boyfriend? And stuff.
He'd be the guy with the flat top, the football playing guy,
those kind of very old-fashioned values.
It was like, oh, he's still like that, is he? OK.
We didn't mind it.
It just seemed a bit old-fashioned.
They had a bit of catching up to do.
Here were American girls going wild for distinctly un-macho Brits,
an unprecedented threat to American manhood across the land.
I think what the Beatles brought to America was an awakening
that was a long time coming.
We weren't expecting women in 1964
to be expressing themselves emotionally like that in public,
to be showing themselves as frenetic and hysterical and sexual.
You didn't get that.
Now that you've seen the Beatles, what do you think?
I've never seen anything like it in my life.
We were some exotic beast to them.
Nobody had ever seen people with their hair all down like that
and all the gear and the clothes and the mod look, you know?
They were a little bit in the dark ages about all of that.
We were very unusual.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles.
Then we went on the Ed Sullivan Show
and that really kicked it over the edge.
# Close your eyes and I'll kiss you
# Tomorrow I'll miss you
# Remember I'll always be true
# And then while I'm away
# I'll write home every day
# And I'll send all my loving to you... #
70 million people saw that show.
It's a lot of attention for 20-year-old kids.
The Beatles came on the Ed Sullivan Show,
and it was the most exciting thing in the whole world.
All New York City went nuts for it.
# All my loving I will send to you... #
It wasn't just New York.
The Beatles were beamed into living rooms across the nation,
at a time when the power of television
had just come into its own.
It was right after the Kennedy assassination
and the Beatles were the next media phenomenon.
Not to diminish what the Kennedy assassination meant here,
because it was just devastating.
It also was one of the first big television moments.
Everybody was watching the funeral
and that sense that television was the primary means
by which information was coming to you,
was really very much solidified right at that moment.
Right on the heels of that experience
at this incredible American depression, come the Beatles.
America's young prince was gone,
now here were four pretenders at the gates of Camelot.
The American competition was simply re-cast in a supporting role.
There's four of them, they're all gifted, talented, gorgeous,
what can you say?
They're the Beatles.
I found it very funny that we'd be booed all the time,
because people of course would want the Beatles.
I just loved every minute of it.
I liked playing Monopoly with George Harrison. Who wouldn't?
We had a couple of pillow fights on the plane.
# Roll over Beethoven
# And tell Tchaikovsky the news... #
The Beatles gave America back their music
because I think we had overlooked so many of the great blues artists,
so many of the great people that we've all learned from
and I think we had forgotten the basics
and they gave that back to us.
# Well if you're feeling like it
# Get your lover And reel and rock it
# Roll it over and move on up
# Go for cover And reel and rock it... #
We just loved American music so much that we wanted to play it.
So we would take something like Twist And Shout by the Isley Brothers
that we just loved as a record and we had to do it.
When we went live, that was a great song to do.
We kind of made it our own.
# Shake it up baby now
# Shake it up baby
# Twist and shout
# Twist and shout
# Come on... #
The Beatles were plugged into that early energy of rock'n'roll.
I remember Jerry Lee Lewis in an interview saying the Beatles
swept away all of these guys who had cute names who were making
rock'n'roll in the US at that time.
Bobby Benton, Bobby Denton...
nothing but Bobby's on the radio.
Thank God for the Beatles.
They showed 'em a trick.
Cut 'em down like wheat before the sickle.
Whilst young America had been slow out of the blocks,
they were now keen to make up lost ground.
In conquering the USA, the Beatles kicked down the door,
and in behind them poured an invasion of British bands.
It looked good, I guess, on film,
but it was a disaster.
ARCHIVE RECORDING: Here they are, The Animals,
Britain's hottest new rock'n'roll export.
Their New York arrival runs into a ban on any tumultuous airport reception.
The Beatles had been there and done it.
The Port Authority were really tired because of the expense.
So when we landed, there was nobody there.
The ride from the airport, over the many bridges
and streets of New York, there was nobody.
There was just each one of us in a Mustang with a girl
dressed up in a silly bunny costume
with fishnet stockings, I remember that.
# She's not there
# Well let me tell you
# 'bout the way she looked
# The way she... #
New York laid on a proper welcome for other British invaders
such as The Zombies.
My parents had packed me a packed lunch to take on the plane...
It was a long time ago.
It was a bigger world in those days, wasn't it?
# Nobody told me about her
# What could I do...? #
When we got off the plane, there were hundreds of people,
I don't know, maybe thousands, and we did that old thing
of looking over our shoulders to see...
Who was on the plane!
And it was us.
Well, it was further away then.
It's hard to imagine now that people go back and forth a lot,
but a trip to America then was still a big deal.
The first time we went to New York,
big, huge, beautiful Cadillac limousines,
screaming girls trying to tear your clothes off.
It was excellent.
I recommend it highly. It was fun.
With so many people, so many fans in the terminal waiting
for Herman's Hermits, with signs,
causing all kinds of commotion,
they couldn't bring the plane into the terminal.
So they parked it on the field and these old businessmen...
Remember, there were no women flying in those days.
So we're on this plane with these older men who were not really
that happy to be messed around, as they took our plane and the police cars came to get us...
"Good. They've been arrested." The police were our escorts.
# As far as I can tell I'm her kind of guy... #
For a generation that had grown up in bombed-out Britain,
their first experience of New York City would be beyond their wildest dreams.
# Something tells me I'm into something good... #
It was an unbelievable shock, being taken to a midtown Manhattan hotel
and everybody saying, "Have a nice day."
And, "We love your accent."
Looking down and seeing all these...
They looked like boats to me, the cars.
They were just silly. It was just like Walt Disney come alive.
# Start spreading the news
# I'm leaving today... #
You've only got to go to New York and you're impressed with everything
because it's so big and vast,
# New York, New York... #
I remember the first time we got to New York
and I had seen it on the movies,
the grids in the road, steam coming out of them.
I thought, what is that? We don't have that in England.
# The very heart of it
# New York, New York
# I want to wake up
# In a city... #
I'd never heard of pizza before I got to America.
I was looking... "What's piz-er?"
(AMERICAN ACCENT) "Hey, man. We eat it all the time here. Pizza, man.
"We're going to get you some." Of course, it was brilliant.
Loved it, pizza.
Long before sex and drugs, there was food...
an eye-opener to a generation raised on rationing.
I was hungry one day and we'd just gotten in
and our stage manager said, "What do you want?"
I said, "Well, we don't have time to go out."
"No, we'll just have it brought in."
"Brought in?! What do you mean?"
"You can order anything you want and just have it delivered right here."
Wow! What a concept.
# Great fried potato yeah... #
You would sit down, whether it was a diner or a posh restaurant,
you would be handed the menu and a glass of iced water.
Then you'd get a salad first
and you had to eat your salad before your proper food arrived.
-Burger, steak or chicken, that was your meal...
..with fries or baked potato with prime rib.
I particularly like prime rib. They were very good with beef.
# Mashed potato
# Yeah, yeah, yeah... #
-I noticed that a lot of the ladies had larger backsides than our ladies.
-They still have.
Wide-eyed, the Brits poured into New York throughout the mid-'60s,
and those with Bohemian interests
sought out the city's famous artistic side.
When I was in New York, I guess, Ginsberg took me down
to the factory...
Warhol's silver pillow period
and he was making movies.
I went out on one of the "attack New York with Super-8 camera" trips,
where he sent out girls into the city,
and I think one party we arrived at, we met Dali.
Around that time, I would go off down Greenwich Village.
There were lots of jazz clubs down there. I would sit like here,
Miles Davis would be playing there, Charlie Mingus a few yards away. He'd buy a beer
and watch these greats. I saw them all.
There was one particular thing, a very famous bar called the Metropole,
and I remember going in there that first time, 1965,
and one of the great drum idols was playing drums behind the bar
on a long stage.
And it was Gene Krupa.
I thought, wow! You were experiencing the real America.
In 1964 and '65, British music would virtually
own the American charts.
At one point in April '64, the Beatles held all top five positions
on the Billboard Top 100.
Hot on their heels were the Dave Clark Five who were booked
on the Ed Sullivan show an unprecedented 18 times.
From Gerry and the Pacemakers to Freddie and the Dreamers,
it seemed you only had to speak in an English accent to have a hit in the States.
Somebody at some point thought that all people who were English
were multifaceted entertainers.
So we would see these buses stopping in a transport cafe
and there'd be people on the other bus that would be like,
James Brown and the Famous Flames, The Zombies and direct from England, The Hullabaloos.
They weren't known in England. I'd go, "Who's The Hullabaloos?" "We're The Hullabaloos."
"Where are you from?" "Hull." "You've never had a hit in England."
"Yeah, I know, but we were over here..."
So anything that was English would go.
# Birds sing out of tune
# And rain clouds hide the moon
# I'm OK
# Here I'll stay
# With my loneliness
# I don't care what they say
# I won't stay in a world without love... #
It was the foppish appearance and carefree attitude
of these young Brits that fascinated America...
# I will see my true love smile... #
..such as Peter and Gordon,
the second British invasion act to top the charts.
# When she does I lose So baby until then
# Lock me away
# And don't allow the day
# Here inside
# Where I hide
# With my loneliness... #
It was a funny era because Beatle, or Beed-le as it was in America,
almost became a collective, a sort of generic term.
If you had long hair... I remember getting into a lift
and some kid going, "Are you a Beatle?"
It didn't actually mean he thought I was a member of the Beatles,
the band, it was sort of, "Are you part of that?"
The answer was yes, because they all had crew-cuts.
The youthful revolution that had swept through Britain,
transforming attitudes to sex, authority and ambition,
had simply not happened in the USA.
So it was up to us to make America groovy.
It was, did you know the Queen? Or, hey, you guys look weird.
Yes. You're weird.
They'd all have Ivy League suits on.
That was the first time. The second time you go, they'd loosen up a bit.
The third time, when flower power arrived, they all looked like Jesus Christ.
# When rain has hung the leaves with tears
# I want you near
# To kill my fears... #
So this is a new country, only 300 years old, or 400 years old,
and so it was full of wonder for Europe
and I suppose I stepped onto the pavement
as if I'd stepped off a spaceship from another planet.
# I may as well try
# And catch the wind... #
America loved me and others like my pals, as well.
# I may as well
# Try and catch the wind. #
Not everybody loved the new guys in town,
especially the American establishment.
I remember at airports, with our slightly long hair
there would be American businessmen with Samsonite cases
turning round and literally...
Very rude and people spat at us and things occasionally.
They didn't let us into Disneyland,
that was the same year as Khrushchev wasn't let into Disneyland,
because we had slightly long hair and didn't look like them.
Relative latecomers to the British invasion were the Rolling Stones.
Their career in America didn't really take off until 1965.
But as had happened in Britain, their mere presence in the USA
was enough to infuriate the old guard.
The Beatles were kind of wimpy compared to the Rolling Stones.
The Rolling Stones, when they came to America, they were known as the ugliest band from England.
What do you say to a thing like that? Yes, I suppose.
That was scary. It was cool.
# Time is on my side
# Yes it is... #
I remember the first time the Rolling Stones were on The Ed Sullivan Show,
Mick Jagger came out wearing a sweatshirt
and, I mean, every single one of my teachers the next day
was lecturing about how awful the Rolling Stones were.
# You come running back
# To me... #
If the invaders found the metropolitan youth of New York
a little backwards, they were in for a real shock
when they took their music into the American interior.
There they would find the land of their childhood screen idols.
Way out west, a lot of the people still dressed in cowboy outfits.
You know, Oklahoma, Wyoming,
the men would walk round in Stetsons and cowboy shirts
and cowboy boots...
Cowboy influence was still there.
It was literally, "Wow, this place is fantastic. I want to stay here."
It's absolutely brilliant.
# I saw her today
# I saw her face
# It was a face I loved
# And I knew
# I had to run away
# And get down on my knees... #
I realised my dream.
I could go into a shop and buy a Colt 45.
# Needles and pins... #
You could do that in the '60s. Unbelievable.
# The tears I've got to hide... #
We went to Denver
and we did a gig in Denver. We rented a couple of station wagons
and we drove down, under a full moon, across the desert to New Mexico.
And the window was down in the back and it was a full moon,
and the desert was so light, you know,
it was day for night. It was like, "I'm in a movie.
"This is where I belong. I've always wanted to be in the movies.
"Well, just stay in the back of this car for the whole ride
"until it stops."
We were in Oklahoma doing a concert and the promoter said,
"What would you guys like to do?
"You've got a day off."
And straightaway I said, "Could we go horseriding?"
You know, like my dream to be a cowboy on a horse.
And I can remember getting up on the horse and thinking,
"Wow! This is high."
Like the pioneers in their covered wagons,
the Brits took their music deep into uncharted territory.
In the South they would discover
an America that they never knew existed.
We didn't realise that black Americans had their own separate life,
and that white Americans had their separate life.
They had separate radio stations,
they had separate restaurants, they had different parts of the bus.
They had different toilets.
You know, we were not used to that segregation.
I remember one particular night on the Dick Clark tour
walking into a restaurant, and Colin and I, both in a friendly way,
had our arm around two of The Velvelettes as we walked in.
And there was absolute stunned silence in this restaurant.
And the tour manager rushed up to us and said, "We have to get out now."
He said, "You're going to get us killed, you're going to get us shot.
Many of the British invaders toured the South
with popular black American acts.
Herman's Hermits were paired with Round Robin
and Little Anthony and the Imperials.
But we get to the South, Macon, Georgia,
and, you know, we're pretty naive
but we understand that there's a whole different vibe.
# Shimmy shimmy, coco pop, shimmy shimmy bop
# Shimmy shimmy, coco pop... #
And we find that, some nights, we can't hang out with Round Robin
because they won't let us in that hotel.
You can't go with Little Anthony and the Imperials,
our friends now, our best friends.
Wherever they go, we go, cos they know what's going on, right?
So we go on. We don't even look at the audience until we walk on stage.
And we walk out and it is 12,000, 100% black audience,
with their arms folded.
Like... "Who are they?"
For some reason, we got to them.
I think it was Mrs Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter.
"Well, that's cute."
They never applauded or anything, but we got through the evening.
# But it's sad
# She doesn't love me now... #
The point is this. Even in 1965,
there was still segregation.
And I think it was illegal by that time, but we were still segregated.
And I remember, the bus would stop, you would go into these little convenience stores,
on sale there were Ku Klux Klan records. There was one called...
# Stand up and be counted
# And act just like a man Stand up and be counted
# And join the Ku Klux Klan. #
# We are a sacred brotherhood who love our country true
# We always can be counted on when there's a job to do. #
There were all these records openly on sale,
many of them were recorded by country music's top stars
and of course, the Confederate flag was everywhere.
These Brits experienced first-hand what America was like in the mid-'60s,
unlike most Americans, who harboured some quaint ideas
about life in Britain.
You really have to think about that time.
Only rich people travelled, for the most part.
America, as we well know, is a pretty isolated place,
it's not as if there's a tremendous sense of what the rest of the world is like here very often.
'If you want to talk about England, this is England.
'It's almost the same size as Wyoming.'
I remember as a kid thinking, "God, what am I doing in New York,
"in Greenwich Village where I grew up?
"If only I was in Liverpool!"
# Goes on day after day
# Hearts torn in every way... #
They thought we were all from Liverpool. We'd go there and they'd go,
"What's Liverpool like?" I'd say, "Actually, I've never been there. By reputation, it's horrible.
"It's a horrible ugly port town and everyone I know, including the Beatles,
"got the hell out of there, soon as they could afford the train ticket."
Meanwhile of course, to Americans, Liverpool would become this magical zone
where all these English bands were from. Of course, we weren't.
In American minds, the image of Britain as one groovy little ol' place,
conflated with more misty-eyed notions of the old country.
On the one hand, they had this feeling that it was swinging London,
and it was the centre of everything in pop culture, which it was, it absolutely was.
At the same time, they couldn't divorce that in their minds
from this quaint image of how England ought to be,
and I think it's summed up in that record.
# England swings like a pendulum do
# Bobbies on bicycles two by two
# Westminster Abbey The tower of Big Ben
# The rosy red cheeks of the little children. #
What's that got to do with swinging London? It was a very bizarre mix
of... The one thing we found, immediately,
you only had to speak in an English accent and people would swoon, wouldn't they?
Unfortunately, that doesn't happen any more!
# England swings like a pendulum do
# Bobbies on bicycles two by two
# Westminster Abbey The tower of Big Ben
# And the rosy red cheeks of the little children. #
And you go, "It's like a commercial for Britain!
# You huff and puff and you finally save enough money
# To take your family on a trip across the sea
# Take a tip before you take a trip
# Let me tell you where to go Go to England, oh
# England swings like a pendulum do
# Bobbies on bicycles... #
But it was so sweet, so romantic. Americans are a very...
I don't want to sound condescending, a sweet, romantic race.
If you listen to it, it is a slightly quaint lyric.
-Very creaky record, actually.
And it wasn't just Nashville crooners like Roger Miller who were cashing in.
Even the British invaders were happy to invoke ye olde England.
Even to this day, Americans think of the English as a bulldog- bites-man-in-the-bum,
and we all live in Tudor houses with bowler hats.
I mean, there was one or two excruciating moments, that we did actually pander to that.
We made it in a field somewhere outside of Windsor.
# For your love
# For your love... #
It was kind of fun, you know. it was fairly harmless.
# For your love
# I'd give the stars and the sun 'fore I live
# For your love
# To thrill you with delight I'll give you diamonds bright
# There'll be things that will excite... #
The Yardbirds also gave a guitarist who would one day conquer the US an American baptism.
At that time I was playing bass for the Yardbirds. It was such a thrill,
to actually go to play in America
and do a little bit of research,
go to blues clubs, things like that. It was just like heaven.
As Anglophilia swept the USA,
it was almost inevitable that imitation became the sincerest form of flattery.
There were American bands who tried to sound like
and look like the British bands.
Some... There's a fabulous record by The Knickerbockers called Lies,
you'd think was almost a Beatles record.
Yeah, baby, one of the greatest. With Lies,
welcome Buddy, John, Bo and Jimmy - The Knickerbockers.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
# Lies lies Telling me that you'll be true
# Lies, lies
# That's all I ever get from you
# Tears, tears
# I shed a million tears for you... #
Sir Douglas Quintet...they used to dress
in what they thought was an English style. Groups did that.
I suppose people assume that Sir Douglas Quintet is from England,
but I have a surprise for you.
Believe it or not, these fellows are all from my home state of Texas.
They had She's About A Mover that sounded like She's A Woman. That was a big hit.
# Wow, yeah, what I say
# Heh heh
# She's about a mover
# She's about a mover
# She's about a mover
# She's about a mover... #
After a while I don't think you can tell who's listening to who.
You know, I think, it's obvious The Byrds' first record, they'd heard the Beatles.
# No use keeping you around
# If you don't want me all the way...#
In 1964, The Byrds were very much a Beatle clone band,
just for a minute.
We had black suits with velvet collars and I remember,
we had them at Zeros, the nightclub, and they were hanging on the rack.
We'd come back and put them on, and go home in jeans and T-shirts.
One night, we got to Zeros and they were gone.
When I met John Lennon, I told him. He said, "I wish they'd stolen our suits!"
# Here we come
# Walking down the street... #
But the ultimate American Beatles tribute hit TV screens in 1966.
# Hey hey we're The Monkees... #
It was a show about a band that wanted to be the Beatles...
And never made it, on the television show.
That's, I think, why it touched and connected with so many people.
Here was US television cashing in on the British invasion,
by manufacturing their very own band of cute characters.
# Take the last train to Clarksville and I'll meet you at the station
# You can be here by 4.30
# Cos I've made your reservation Don't be slow
# No, no, no... #
We had a poster of the Beatles on the wall and we'd throw darts at it.
It was about this band
that represented all those bands all over the world,
in their basements, in their garages, playing,
trying to become something like the Beatles.
# Warden threw a party at the county jail
# The prison band was there they began to wail
# The band was jumping...#
If an American went to Britain, he might hope to see the Queen.
When the British invaders went to America, they wanted to meet the King.
Unfortunately, since the Brits had conquered all,
Elvis had left the building.
We turned up at Elvis' house and knocked on the door, and said, "Is Elvis in?" No security.
We just walked up and said, "Is Elvis in?"
His father came to the door and said,
"Elvis would love to have seen you guys, he loves you. But he's away filming at the moment."
# I wonder if
# You're lonesome tonight... #
His father said, "Have a look around", and being...
We felt slightly strange about this... Did we actually go in the house?
We mainly walked round the grounds.
As you say, we never actually met him, we only knocked on his door.
He couldn't come out that day!
That's because Elvis was churning out movies in California.
I saw him around in Palm Springs,
especially at the local TV shop,
because he bought one of the early big screens, one of the early ones.
With the projection, and you had to be sitting right in the middle in order to see the image.
Of course, Elvis would always get centre seat
and the guys were always complaining because the football games would fade away at the edges,
so there was constant complaining and the guy who owns it going,
"It's just the way it comes, Elvis, that's the way it is."
It would be up to plucky Mancunian Peter Noone to get an audience with the King in Hawaii.
So I saw Colonel Parker walking through a hotel lobby in Hawaii.
"You think you could find a way to introduce me to Elvis? My sister and I have got all his records."
You know, my sister!
He goes, "OK, actually, he's in town, he's making a movie.
"But you'd have to get up at 6am."
I didn't sleep, I called my sister.
"What questions shall I ask Elvis, they want me to interview Elvis!"
She said, "Ask him, does he dye his hair?"
PETER: 'When are you coming to England?'
ELVIS: 'Coming to where?
'Oh, excuse me, coming to England. I don't know.
'Maybe in a year or so.'
I was looking at his hair going, "It does look dyed, but I'd better not mention it."
PETER: 'How come you made it without long hair?'
But the ultimate transatlantic summit
took place in Los Angeles on Friday, August 27th, 1965.
It was negotiated like the, er, Middle East peace treaty.
There were no pictures ever taken.
There is no picture, ever, of Elvis and the Beatles.
Paul, what are your immediate reflections about last night -
your meeting with Elvis Presley?
Very nice, Larry. Very nice. I had a good time. He's a nice fella.
Just what I expected, in fact.
And, er, we tried to persuade him to make some new records,
like the old records.
So we had a good laugh, a few drinks.
Rocking and rolling, playing the instruments,
-and, er, bit of billiards, bit of roulette.
I had a great time. Yes, yes, gambling away. I lost, of course. I always lose!
Elvis had abdicated but by 1966,
young America had its own bohemian king.
# Johnny's in the basement Mixing up the medicine
# I'm on the pavement Thinking 'bout the government
# The man in the trench coat Badge out, laid off
# Says he's got a bad cough Wants to get it paid off
# Look out, kid It's something you did
# God knows when But you're doing it again...
Bob Dylan's revolutionary blend of poetry and folk rock
put him on an equal standing with the Beatles
in the eyes of many American youth.
And in 1966, the Beatles' American adventure would come to an end
with a third and final tour.
# There are places I remember... #
A throwaway comment made by John Lennon,
comparing the Beatles to Jesus Christ,
had infuriated the Christian far right.
Ku Klux Klan, being a religious order,
is going to come out here the night that they appear at the Coliseum here,
to stop this performance.
This is nothing but blasphemy.
-Are you burning your Beatles records?
-Yes, sir, I burned 'em.
-You burned them yourself?
-I already burned 'em.
# And some are living
# In my life I've loved them all... #
A reluctant climb-down marked the end of innocence
for the Beatles' special relationship with America.
-Mr Lennon, could you tell us what you really meant by that statement?
-Christ? When I was talking about it,
it was very close and intimate with this person that I know, who happens to be a reporter.
I was using expressions on things that I'd just read,
and derived, about Christianity.
Only I was saying it in the simplest form that I know, which is the natural way I talk.
But more importantly, playing live had begun to limit the band.
# Tell me that you've got everything you want
# And your bird can sing... #
The previous year's Shea stadium gig had broken attendance records,
but also marked the beginning of the end.
It did eventually get to be too much. At first we liked it,
cos it was the novelty and the excitement - it was like, "Wow, we're going down great."
But after a while, we started to get a bit annoyed
that we couldn't hear what we were playing. The novelty wore off a bit.
# When your prized possessions
# Start to weigh you down... #
We still loved the fans and loved that we were going down so well, but we DID want to hear
what we were doing. You know, we WERE musicians, after all.
It was just like... God, you know, it's just, er...
"This isn't good for our musical development."
And we were making records by then
where we were exploring a little bit and moving a little bit further forward from what we'd done -
repackaging American music.
We were now kind of making our own in-roads,
and THEY were now repackaging our music and sending it -
mirroring it - back to us.
Although the Beatles wouldn't return to American soil after 1966,
they would remain avatars for American youth
through their increasingly progressive studio albums.
And for the British invasion as a whole,
the tide was beginning to turn.
In a couple of years, you know, suddenly, the Beatles are making Rubber Soul
and the Rolling Stones are making Aftermath, and you're having a kind of maturity.
Certain of these bands are part of what had been
this fad of rock'n'roll,
and certain of them were really, kind of, creating a new music.
# Under my thumb
# The girl who once had me down... #
And that was where, you know, like, bands like The Searchers or Gerry And The Pacemakers,
or certainly Freddie And The Dreamers, Wayne Fontana And The Mindbenders.
You know, there was a difference between who was doing what,
and who was going to stick around and who wasn't.
# I'm leaning on the lamp
# Maybe you think
# I look a tramp... #
A division grew between those Brits who wanted to be part of the counter-culture
and those who were pure entertainers.
Suddenly, the idea that musicians could -
which I always found preposterous...
Musicians could have some political influence.
I thought we were on the other team.
I'd always thought we were on the team with no influence on anybody except girls -
and if you're really lucky, some guys'll like the music, as well, and you'll sell twice as much.
# I'm leaning on the lamppost at the corner of the street
# In case a certain little lady comes by... #
There was a lot of tension because of the Vietnam War.
The old guard was saying, "We must defend the country,"
and young guys were saying, "I don't want to get killed for this. This is stupid."
It was just such a hot issue, and there were so many people,
you couldn't lie about it and say, "Oh, it's great," or, "I have nothing to say."
You were in a corner, so you had to speak the truth.
In America, people keep asking about Vietnam - does this seem useful?
I don't know. If you can say that war's no good and a few people believe you,
it may be good. You can't say it too much - that's the trouble.
It seems silly to be in America and for none of them to mention Vietnam, as if nothing was happening.
But why should they ask YOU? You're successful entertainers.
Americans always ask showbiz people what they think about it.
So do the British. Showbiz - you know how it is(!)
I was chastised by everybody because I supported the war in Vietnam.
Somebody asked me my opinion. I need to be able to sleep at night.
A little more bottom.
Monterey Pop in 1967 was the epiphany for a new counter-culture.
The first major festival, it was a showcase
for the psychedelic courts of both London and San Francisco,
during the Summer of Love.
You had your Monterey Pop festival, which was an enormous influence
on anybody in music or fashion or culture, on that California coast.
The Who were on it.
Jimi Hendrix, who was almost a British act, really, was on it.
A great gathering of people. A great ensemble of music, of all genres.
People there just...for the event, in an atmosphere of peace and love,
and just thoroughly enjoying it.
You know, Monterey was extremely important, in terms of
ushering in this next phase of what popular music generally -
but also popular music from England, specifically - was going to be.
Some of the British invasion would join the new counter-culture.
They had saved American rock'n'roll
and now they were going to save America itself.
And from 1967 onwards, messianic zeal would replace cheeky-chappy.
I think that pop musicians in today's generation
are in a fantastic position - they could rule the world.
We have the power, we have the tolerance.
We can go in front of a television camera, we can go on the air,
and we can say with definition that Hitler was wrong,
that Rockwell is wrong, that people who hate Negroes are wrong, right?
-And we can get up there and shout it to the world, Pete.
-But I don't...
We can shout it to the world, so why don't we do more of it?
I've known Peter for many years, and he's a good Lancashire lad -
got his feet on the ground.
He just thinks a little differently, or did at that point, to me.
I think I kind of viewed him as...
..moving more towards the, er, side of the status quo and that everything was OK,
and I was saying, "No, not everything's OK."
That's what I'm saying - we can...
-We can stop world wars before they ever started.
-I don't believe that you can...
-You know who start world wars? People that are over 40.
The other people in the interview, like Graham Nash, treated me like...
And Graham Gouldman - who were my friends from Manchester.
"Oh, it's ridiculous - so naive." Well, yeah!
I'm 18 - I can think and say whatever I want.
Look what's just happened - you'd just assassinated President Kennedy, The Beatles just came
and changed your complete culture of this country.
I said, you know, "We can make this a better place.
"We can speak our minds.
"We can utilise music as a form of true communication."
Today, because the kids are so tolerant,
and they really want to understand what people are trying to say,
then they'll go with Donovan 99% of the way,
because what he's trying to put over is best for everybody.
It'll stop... What Donovan's trying to put over will stop wars dead.
MUSIC: "Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan
# Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
# I open my eyes to take a peep
# To find that I was by the sea... #
Popular culture was in trouble - two wars and a depression.
A nuclear disaster hovering over the whole world,
and Vietnam War.
A greedy grab for money,
and suffering by the hundreds of thousands.
# Hurdy gurdy, gurdy, gurdy, gurdy
# Gurdy, gurdy, he sang... #
Somehow, through the supposedly safe avenue
of a 45-revs-per-minute single
and a beautiful young boy singer, called Donovan -
that was how we did it.
That's how these issues could be sung - through pop music.
# Histories of ages past
# Unenlightened shadows cast... #
Then the drugs thing came, on top of that.
Everybody suddenly became more, sort of, cool and "my guru" and all that.
# Singing songs of lo-o-ove... #
And what happened was great, cos all the guys would go in a room to smoke dope and talk about,
you know, the meaning of life, the war in Vietnam...
So we'd take their girls out.
Steal their girlfriends. It all was working out pretty good for us.
We didn't realise that the guru world would eventually take it over.
By 1968, the axis of influence in music had shifted firmly west -
and if you wanted to be significant in this new world,
you had to leave the British invasion behind.
I think it was the difference between people
that drank a lot of beer and people that smoked a lot of pot.
It's a different way of thinking. Pot, for me, opened up my mind to...
..infinite possibilities about what I could do with my life.
We became very different people, you know? I wasn't...
I wasn't happy to be writing Hollies songs any more - you know,
the "moon, June, screw me in the back of the car coming down the hill" kind of pop songs.
We were brilliant at it, but I was a little tired of that.
# Your children well
# Their father's hell... #
Graham Nash swapped Manchester for Los Angeles
and formed Crosby, Stills and Nash -
a supergroup of transatlantic long-hairs.
I listened to Horace Greeley! "Go west, young man, go west."
I went to where the music was, and the music -
in my mind, right then - was David and Stephen and myself.
They lived in Hollywood, so I came to Hollywood and moved to Laurel Canyon,
and shared the house with Joni Mitchell.
The British invasion, like all fashions, came to an end.
It had been a process of mutual self-discovery.
# It's the time
# Of the season... #
We helped them come of age...
# When love runs high
# And this time... #
..and they helped show us the future.
# And let me try with pleasured hands
# To take you in the sun... #
From now on, America would be the land of opportunity for British rock.
# It's the time of the season
# For loving... #
A new frontier and a new market for the next generation to go west.
This whole British invasion had really taken off over there,
and, er, you know, I just came in and managed to enjoy a major part of it.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
In the 1960s, arriving British groups were astounded by pizza, skyscrapers and real cowboys while America fell in love with a curious blend of swinging London and ye olde England.