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Remembering The Beatles
September 21, 2009 - Jim Bartholow
The recent hubbub over the release of The Beatles music and video game got me thinking back to when the Fab Four led the first wave of The British Invasion of music to the United States. I was 12 at the time and just discovering music. Transistor radios were just coming into mass marketing so we had the music wherever we wanted to take it. The Beatles were a fresh sound with lyrics about the usual topics (girls, love, breaking up). And that hair, really radical for the times and our parents were repulsed both by their music and their looks. That was a perfect combination for America's young people who were listening to the sounds of The Beach Boys, Frankie Avalon and the Supremes. The Beatles made a big point of how much they enjoyed the music of America's blues artists such as Chuck Berry and the Isley Brothers. But, growing up in Cleveland, we didn't hear much of Chuck, or James Brown, or any other black performer. Their music was largely limited to the R&B stations based downtown with signals that were too weak to get into the suburbs. To say that The Beatles were huge would be an understatement. I remember that at one time they had a majority of the Top Ten tunes for quite a few weeks at the peak of their popularity. We couldn't get enough of them. I remember "The Beatles Hour" every Sunday night on Cleveland's top rock and roll radio station. It was 60 minutes of solid Beatles music, played by request. I loved it. And when Cleveland's top-rated rock radio staton, which wasn't even in the Cleveland area ("The Giant" CKLW in Hamilton, Ontario) discovered The Beatles it was wall-to-wall Fab Four. That's right, Cleveland's top rock radio voice wasn't even in Cleveland at the time. CKLW played lots of music with little commercial or DJ interruptions. And it played the most popular music over and over and over. Eventually, the fervor died down, but the world of music and my interest in rock and roll changed forever. I was hooked on those sounds.
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