How The Beatles' Style Developed


Up until around early 1962 The Beatles presented themselves as Rock and Rollers. Teddy Boys very much influenced by Elvis and Chuck Berry. Leather Jackets, boots and sideburns were the order of the day.


Their music reflected this. Straight Rock and Roll like "Roll Over Beethoven" by Chuck Berry or Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day". They played this music in mostly small clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg in Germany. The Germans would urge them to "make a show!!" Playing for ridiculously long hours they lived on stage - eating drinking and even sleeping on stage. Fights would break out amongst the audience and Lennon would try to attract attention by doing impressions of Hitler. They would jump around and stamp hard on the floor to try to make an impression.

Whilst in Hamburg, Stuart Sutcliffe (Art Student friend of John Lennon and Bass Guitarist at the time) met and fell in love with ASTRID KIRCHHERR - a photographer and member of the EXIS.


 She cut Sutcliffe's hair in a style similar to the young college friends she had. The other Beatles slowly followed - the beginning of the famous "mop top" haircut that they would sport throughout their superstardom in the Beatlemania years (62-66)

                                George and John's forward combed hair Exis style                       


1962 - 65

            Signing with manager Brian Epstein in December 1961 brought new changes. He put them in "Beatle Suits"



 and "Beatle Boots" - recognising that wider popularity would necessitate a calming down of the Rock and Roll image of Hamburg. Compare this with The Shadows - already hugely popular in England. These were the days of the "Merseybeat" sound. records like "She Loves You" and  "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" deliberately used personal pronouns to make the fans involved in the music. The whole scene was shown in the film "A Hard Days' Night".

Between the years 65 and 66 The Beatles started to mature as an act. The influence of Bob Dylan showed in longer hair, a move away from the suits (except 


                                                                                                                              when performing) and more thoughtful lyrics - "Help" many people saw as a jolly pop ditty. Lennon meant it as a cry from the heart. "Think For Yourself" and "You Won't See Me" amongst other tracks from "Rubber Soul" showed an ability to move on from "I Love You, You Love Me Baby" lyrics to a more thoughtful style influenced by Dylan. Note also the beginnings of psychedelia in the cover - compare with the Sitar on "Norwegian Wood".



The album "Revolver" pointed the way forward (1966). Designed by artist and friend from Hamburg days, Klaus Voorman. A psychadelic feast of patchwork black and white reflected the desire for more complex ideas that could only be honed in the studio - backwards sounds, Indian instruments, orchestral sections, avant garde music. "Tommorrow Never Knows" had John Lennon trying to sound like a thousand monks on a distant hilltop.

Late 66  to early 68 were the psychadelic years. Sgt Pepper suits. Moustaches.Long hair. Indian Clothes. Songs like "Within You Without You", "A Day In The Life", and "Strawberry Fields Forever" echoed this freer image. Four cellos and two trumpets? A whole orchestra going from their lowest to highest note?


If the cover of Revolver had been presented as a surrealistic dreamscape then the cover of Pepper was an explosion of ideas. the cover featured pictures of famous people cut out and photographed. the album bursts with life, including the Sgt Pepper cutouts that came with the album and, for the first time, the lyrics on the back.

1968 - 1970 saw a move away from psychedelia to a broader palette. Where could you go to match the vivid colour of Pepper? 168's "The Beatles" featured a plain white sleeve, save for the issue number. In a way it reflected the lost hope of '67 and the civil unrest of '68. No psychedelic dreams here, just stark reality. Flared jeans, even longer hair, full beards and centre partings mirrored a move to more adult oriented rock - more "thinking music". The rest of the world was rediscovering the Blues through Eric Clapton - George Harrison wrote "For You Blue". The Who said that they had recorded the loudest song ever - Paul McCartney wrote "Helter Skelter".


The final released album, "Let It Be" had originally been planned as a project called "Get Back" - The recordings would be live, in the same way as they were in the earlier days - getting back to their roots. "The One After 909" reflected this idea - a song written over a decade before - pure Rock and Roll.

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