The CHAT’s Pop Culture Corner

The Beatles and Their Contribution to Rock ‘n’ Roll

Lindsey Smith, Arts & Entertainment Editor

   The 1960s housed some of the all time greatest musicians the world has ever seen. From The Rolling Stones and The Who, to Creedence Clearwater Revival and Steve Miller Band, a whole new wave of music took over. Perhaps the most influential of all, though: the Beatles. 

   The Beatles completely reimagined the concept of music and set fire to everything the world had previously known about rock ‘n’ roll. With the vocals of John Lennon and Paul Mccartney matched with bluesy guitar riffs, jangly chords, a deep and present bass, and a new age percussive style, the Beatles took their place among the greats only to surpass them and earn the title as one of the best bands of all time. 

    Influenced by now-rock-legends like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley, the Beatles took the world by storm and stepped out of music’s comfort zone. John, Paul, George, and Ringo— the Beatles—invented a new wave of music and became the influencers.

   Like most bands, the Beatles started out performing covers as they acclimated to the world of music. John Lennon and Paul McCartney met in a folky-jazz band, The Quarrymen. Later, guitarist George Harrison and drummer Ringo Starr found their way to the group and became the iconic quartet that would inspire musicians for centuries to come. Greatly inspired and interested in rockabilly, it is most evident in Harrison’s eclectic style of guitar riffs which developed the Beatles’ early sound. 

   12 albums and over 200 songs later, the Beatles were an international phenomenon that many bands owe their success to. 

   Oasis, Nirvana, and David Bowie were among many that were extremely inspired by the 1960s band from Liverpool, England. Many artists from the bands learned their instruments through playing Beatles covers and gained ideas for their own stylistic choices through listening to the Beatles’ songs. Kurt Colbain, lead vocalist and guitarist of Nirvana, for example, was motivated to play instruments and to be in a band at all by listening to the Beatles. The opening piano riff in the song “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis is made up of similar, if not the same, chords and rhythm used in John Lennon’s song “Imagine.” David Bowie admitted that his lyrics were influenced by the Beatles’ lyrics and complemented John Lennon’s choice of puns. 

   Although their presence isn’t as acutely felt in the 21st century, their mark on music is still evident and rockabilly, psychedelic rock and blues, with hints of jangly chords have the Beatles to thank for inspiring a new age of rock ‘n’ roll.