AP US History
June 4, 2010
The Beatles: How Four British Lads Shaped America
A musical group of four young British Liverpool natives arrived in the United States in the 1960s to begin their long career of shaping American culture; they were the Beatles. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, like the many predecessors before them who had come from Britain such as Thomas Paine and Andrew Carnegie, became an integral part of the history of the United States, even though they were not true American-born citizens. Beginning with their momentous arrival in the United States in 1964, the Beatles greatly influenced American culture in the 1960s, and left an enduring legacy. The Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, controversy with Christianity in 1966, precedents and influences in music, impact and development of the album as an art form, creation of a variety of movies, and influences in the counterculture as well as the pop culture helped to make American culture what it is today.
On February 7, 1964, the Beatles landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, where a crowd of thousands of fans and reporters were waiting. There was such pandemonium, chaos, and screaming that, “One policeman who has worked at the airport for ten years said: ‘I think the world has gone mad.’” Two days after their frenzied arrival, the Beatles made a famous appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. “The broadcast broke all viewing records that held for several years as more than 73 million Americans – teenagers and adults – watched the show. It was reported that crime was almost nonexistent during the ten minutes the Beatles were performing.” Beatlemania, a term given to the fanatic hysteria that the Beatles generated, had officially spread to the United States. Many historians have considered the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed...