How America Gave Rock 'n' Roll to the World
How America Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to the World

How America Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to the World

Larry Holzwarth - December 9, 2019

How America Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to the World
Eric Burdon and the Animals were a British Invasion group playing mostly American music. Wikimedia

23. Other British bands brought American music home during the British Invasion

The success of the Beatles brought several British bands to America, with American record companies competing for the rights to market their records. A review of the track listings for the albums the bands released in America, and supported by playing the songs on their tours, reveals the extent of the influence of American rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and blues on the British. American folk music had influenced them too, carried to Britain by the early stars. Surprisingly, the influence of Elvis Presley was limited, Elvis was not a songwriter of note, and he never performed in Britain. But a guitar player for Elvis (and others), Scottie Moore, was a major influence on the British.

The Animals came to America in October, 1964, through the portal used by many British bands, The Ed Sullivan Show, after which they performed in several theaters around New York City. Their repertoire was almost entirely cover versions of American rhythm and blues songs. The American song factory known as the Brill Building provided a large portion of their recorded catalog. American influence continued even as the British Invasion was at its peak, with several bands picking up new sounds as they absorbed American radio and culture.

How America Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to the World
By 1965 Bob Dylan’s influence was evident in the writing and playing of John Lennon. Wikimedia

24. American music continued to influence British bands during the British Invasion

Rolling Stones front man and singer Mick Jagger adapted the stage presence and dance moves of American performer James Brown, having already begun using the inflections of black bluesmen in his band’s cover versions of their songs. John Lennon absorbed the influences of Bob Dylan, both in his lyrics and in his guitar playing on some of his own songs. The Motown sound emerged during 1964; both the Temptations and the Four Tops reached the top twenty that year, as did the Supremes. The Rolling Stones recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago. Three of the five songs recorded there were by American artists, including Chuck Berry’s Around and Around.

The British invasion changed radio playlists, and the American rock and roll from which it had sprung all but vanished from the airwaves. Some British bands even came to the United States sporting American names, such as the Nashville Teens, who had a hit with Tobacco Road in 1964. The song itself was an American blues song about life in North Carolina. The British Invasion was over for the most part in early 1967, and other new genres spun off from the rock and pop music it left behind, with the British bands continuing to influence those in America, and vice versa. It was an era which would never have happened had it not been for the reception of American rock and roll in Great Britain a decade earlier.

 

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

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“A Record Changer and Record of Complementary Design”. RCA Review. June 1949. Online

“The Startling Blast of ‘Rock Around the Clock’ Sixty Years Later”. David Cantwell, The New Yorker. July 27, 2015

“Sun Records Studios: 18 Musical Milestones”. Stephen L. Betts, Rolling Stone Magazine. February 17, 2017.

“When Jerry Lee Lewis Married His 13-Year Old Cousin”. Martin Kielty, Ultimate Classic Rock. March 8, 2019. Online

“Chuck Berry: Farewell to the Father of Rock”. Mikal Gilmore, Rolling Stone Magazine. April 7, 2017

“The Rockabilly Legends: They Called It Rockabilly Long Before They Called It Rock and Roll”. Steve Halliday, Jerry Naylor. 2007

“Buddy Holly: A Biography”. Ellis Amburn. 1996

“Light Programme Music”. Radio Rewind. Online (UK)

“Britain Rocked Before the Beatles”, Bob Solly, Record Collector. July, 2013

“The Beatles Anthology (Book)”. The Beatles. 2000

“The Wanderer”. Dion Dimucci. 1988

“How the Transistor Radio Changed the World”. Chris Smith, BT. August 8, 2018. Online

“Cunard Yanks: the sailors who taught Britain how to rock and roll”. Tim Jonze, The Guardian. July 1, 2015

“Who Really Invented Rock and Roll?” Jack Newfield, The New York Sun. September 21, 2004. Online

“Turning Points in Rock and Roll”. Hank Bordowitz. 2004

“The British Invasion: From the Beatles to the Stones, the Sixties Belonged to Britain”. Parke Puterbaugh, Rolling Stone. July 14, 1988

“Little Richard: 20 Essential Songs”. Stephen Thomas Erlewine and Keith Harris, Rolling Stone. July 14, 2016

“I Used to be an Animal, but I’m All Right Now”. Eric Burdon. 1986

“Mods, Rockers, and the Music of the British Invasion”. James E. Perone. 2009

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