Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: The English Rock and Punk Rock Invasions

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The English Rock and Punk Rock Invasions


Another report from my Music class in 2004.

The English Rock and Punk Rock Invasions

 In 1964 the United States was hit with an invasion from the British. No, not a war, but an outburst of English rock and roll music. Prior to this time English musicians were nonexistent in the American music scene. The band to make this so was called The Beatles, four men in their early twenties who sang pop-rock hits and made girls scream. In 1964 The Beatles held the top 5 spots on the Billboard charts. Their success opened the flood gates for dozens of other popular and well known bands; The Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits, The Who, & Pink Floyd to name a few. The Beatles, who broke down the wall for British musicians, cite American Elvis Presley as their biggest inspiration followed by several other black American rock/pop/jazz/blues musicians; Little Richard, Chuck Berry, & Fats Domino. The youth of America was in the mood for a change, a revolution of sorts. The British Invasion was a big part of this long awaited social change called for by youth. The British Invasion gave way to not only just bands but solo singers. David Bowie, Donovan, Elton John, Rod Stewart, & Eric Clapton were just a few.

 David Bowie, one of the most influential solo singers in the history of the world cited his biggest musical inspiration was jazz music. He also cited The Who, The Beatles and other musicians of the British Invasion to be motivation for his ground breaking music. Not only was his motivation brought on by other musicians, but popular American movies. “2001: A Space Odyssey” debuted in 1969 and inspired the hit “Space oddity” off the album with the same name. That hit propelled David Bowie into complete stardom. And that’s when things started to change. David Bowie created the persona “Ziggy Stardust”, a gender bending, make up wearing, mullet bearing glam rock singer claiming to come from outer space. His albums and fashion sense laid down the ground work for early mainstream British punk (as seen in the album “Pinups”). Although punk had been a large part of the music scene in the early 70’s with American singers such as Alice Cooper promoting a “liberal song subjects I don’t care how I look” appeal. But David Bowie, beginning to dawn a leather jacket and spikes versus the previously famed glitter suit and earrings brought it out to a mainstream audience.

 Meanwhile, another British group was gaining undisputable popularity, Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd, helping along the acid rock era, broke down boundaries with their social commentary, distortion and true creativity of song writing. In 1973 there album “Dark side of the Moon” hit the charts and stayed in the number one position for the next eleven years. They later went on to release most famously “The Wall”, “Wish you were here”, and release a movie “The Wall” staring Bob Geldof (who later put together Live Aid staring most big stars of the British invasion). Meanwhile the punk David Bowie had helped make mainstream had reached fever pitch The New York Dolls, MC5 and eventually The Ramones. Joey Ramone, The Ramones lead singer cited that his biggest musical inspirations were those of the British Invasion. Especially The Who, Herman’s Hermits, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. Not long after The Ramones making “garage punk” popular to youth out sprung dozens of other punk bands. Namely, the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Talking Heads…who were all British. The late 70’s brought on another British Invasion of sorts.

 British punk bands were falling out of trees and they were dominating the charts. Although underground punk began in America, the biggest and best punk bands came out of England. The biggest punk rock band in the U.K. was The Sex Pistols. The Sex Pistol’s biggest hit “Anarchy in the USA” represented the pinnacle of punk music. The rough, vomiting, partying, anarchistic band is the most well known and popular British punk band. The 80’s gave way to what the media calls “The second British Invasion” with bands like Duran Duran, The Police, Genesis, and Depeche Mode. Largely due to MTV, the second British Invasion dominated the charts more so than the first. The 80’s brought out “boy bands” once again, as made famous by The Beatles with pop hits, screaming girls and merchandise galore. The second British invasion reached its climax in 1986. Than over 16 years later what is slowly becoming dubbed as “The third or new British Invasion” with more alternative groups versus rock, punk, and dance music. Some of those groups are The Cranberries, The Verve, Oasis, Cold Play among others, yet again all citing that there biggest influences were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Cream.

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