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Friday 22 August 2014

Ian O'Doherty: 50 years on, our world has been changed forever by The Beatles

Published 05/10/2012 | 17:00

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TO paraphrase a certain Beatles song: It was 50 years ago today. October 5, 1962, was the day many people claim the '60s really started.

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In fact, with the release of their first single, 'Love Me Do', it is widely accepted that The Beatles helped to kick-start a pop cultural revolution that irrevocably changed the social landscape forever.

They didn't, as some claim, actually invent pop music with that single.

After all, the likes of Elvis, Eddie Cochrane and a whole host of others had been doing it earlier in America.

But 'Love Me Do' which, incredibly, still sounds fresh and intoxicating, undoubtedly kick-started a youth revolution as kids migrated away from sounds like skiffle into something brand new.

Was the single the launch pad for what would become the greatest band of all time?

Indeed, were they the greatest band of all time?

As someone who wouldn't be born for more than another decade after its release, it would be rather presumptuous, not to say daft, to recount in breathless detail the impact this record had.

But you only need to look at the grainy news footage to see just how mammoth their arrival was.

Hordes of teenagers in hysterics screamed and fainted -- the first time that kind of behaviour became mainstream in Britain.

And while they weren't a boy band in the present context of the word, they undoubtedly set the template for what was to follow -- four good-looking lads, cheeky but not too threatening; smart and quick-witted has become de rigueur for today's most popular acts. Although many of them have yet to master the 'smart' and 'quick-witted' bits of that particular equation.

No, the youthquake the Scouse quartet started not only changed the cultural landscape, but also the political sphere.

A new generation of teenagers, flush with disposable income and full of the confidence instilled in them by the emerging British rock and pop scene began to question the previously untouchable status of the elite.

AND while parents may have been more keen for their kids to listen to The Beatles than the hairy, louche, drugged-up hippies of the Stones, they were just as subversive, albeit in a quieter, subtler away.

So is today's anniversary of any real significance or is it just another excuse to wallow in nostalgia?

Well, I'll put it to you this way -- if you think 'Love Me Do' and, by extension, the band themselves, weren't of great historical significance, then go home, take your record collection out to your back garden and burn the lot of it.

Because without The Beatles, the chances are none of those records would exist today.

Not a bad legacy, after all, is it?

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