British Invasion: Beatles

In 1963 I met a chap from Grimsby at Surf City, Jerry DeVries a steward on the 'Himalaya'. "There is a new band in England called the Beatles. I will send you the LP." He said to me. The arrival of the Beatles on the music scene was a turning point, not only in music, but in fashion and language.

The Fab Four, the lads from Liverpool
George, Paul Ringo and Paul
At Surf City, my friends and I met up with the merchant seamen, easily distinguished by their attire. Beatle boots (black shoes with high heels and rounded toes), tailored leather jackets, high buttoned shirts.

I was a constant at Surf City and jumped on the British bandwagon forsaking the surfing fraternity.  I imitated the teenage girls in the UK who wore clothes modelled by Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. Mini skirts, chunky shoes at the end of pencil thin legs these 'dolly birds' were accompanied by the motor scooter riding partners known as ' Mods'. It was difficult to find suitable clothes in Sydney, my mother made mine. I swapped my surfing gear for 'mod gear'. mini or granny skirts, fake eyelashes, white eye shadow, black eyeliner, white stockings (heaven forbid!) and patent leather, knee-high boots.

Girls became chicks, we adopted the words fab, trendy, kinky, mod and hip. Clothes, music and lingo were either 'in' or 'out'. 

It took a while for the general public to catch onto the Beatles songs. Young guys, eager to impress were forming bands or 'toting' a guitar. 

When the Beatles performed at The Sydney Stadium I went with a huge crew from the Sydney County Council (SCC), some were in tears, and, yes, I’m afraid I screamed at the top of my 16 year old lungs. Dad, worked for the SCC and used his 'special meter-reader badge' to gain entrance to the Sheraton Hotel (Macleay Sreet) he came home with The Beatles autographs, alas, not Ringos. (Jimmy Nicol was standing in for Ringo on this tour).With the Beatles came an influx of English bands referred to as the British Invasion; we were introduced to the Graham Bond Organization (Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker), Long John Baldry, Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies. 

Young groups from Liverpool: Merseybeats, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Hollies, Searchers, Swinging Blues Jeans. Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas. Eric Burdon and the Animals from Newcastle .. Dave Berry. London's Rolling Stones, Zombies, The Who, Manchester gave us Freddy and the Dreamers, Herman's Hermits and Belfast's Them with Van Morrison. Manfred Mann (Jack Bruce), Kinks, Pretty Things, Dave Clark 5. Moody Blues and Brian Poole from Essex. Wayne Fontana, Troggs, Peter and Gordon, Marianne Faithful and the underated Fairies "Who Do You Love". Spencer Davis Group, Traffic (Stevie Winwood), Small Faces (Winwood & Stewart) and little John Mayall, and last but not least and most notably The Yardbirds (spawning Clapton, Beck & Jimmy Page). 

Some were pop, some were rhythm and blues, some had a grunge sound, and others a definate jazz influence. These bands interchanged and later in the sixties and early seventies formed what was to be known as the Super Groups. Unfortunately, for the Beatles, quite a few of their earlier fans changed to diehard Stones freaks (it was hipper) and the Beatles were passé by 1966. Once again the fashion changed as hoards of teenagers dared to grow their hair past their ears and down to their shoulders. Gone were the neat Beatle boots and suits, replaced by cords, suedes, leather and denim.

Please Please Me


  1. love your writings..I have always enjoyed the beatles..rolling stones..herman hermits..and others..I love the British invasion..I really like the british 60's music..

    I hope you stil had a good christmas at home..sorry you ended up by yourself..heres to a great new year to see in!

  2. Hi Lil Harry, well to my surprise Niki arrived with 4 kids in toe, poor bugger, it's so much for her.
    Fed rang last night to see if I had cooled off mmmmmmmmm. Wanted to know what I was doing NY Eve. Have an article coming up The Stones & clip of Herman's Hermits which got me asingin'.
    It was the British Invasion Music that sent me back into the origins of these songs and my journey thru the bluesmen of the Delta, Piedmont and Memphis all of which I hope to cover in this lifetime :)