While perusing Amazon.com to see if The Beatles' CD box set I bought in Afghanistan was in fact the bootleg version (of course it was), I found this interesting discussion:
Supposing The Beatles never happened?
Initial post: Apr 18, 2008 8:02:06 PM PDTThe whole conversation is worth checking out. Some of the best answers get downright deeply social:
The year is 1963. The first major blast of authentic Rock'Roll (Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Buddy Holly) has come and gone. Pretty boy-schlock pop dominates for a while as do the girl groups. The Phil Spector "sound" is particularly popular, Mowtown is in the midst of breaking big and, for "group" sounds, America has the surf sound of The Beach Boys, the whatever sound of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Jay and The Americans, Dion and the Belmonts and a LOT of movie soundtracks selling like crazy...and here we be, nothing much else, newer or fresher anywhere to be hinted at (something about a beat group having a local hit in England called My Bonnie but they never got that elusive record contract-broke up or something)..so where "did" the road of popular music go from here?
Actually Debbie, your post does raise a question much more sociological and I'd argue that, in their way, the Beatles did a lot to push back the civil rights movement, a sentiment that was first posed by R&B artists like Ben E. King in the BBC's Rock n Roll documentary. There was a feeling, before the Beatles came, that things were going to change, that there was a breakthrough about to happen, and when the British invasion groups came in, those artists were pushed aside for the "prettier" white artists. You see bands like the Moody Blues topping the charts with "Go Now" instead of the original version. Maybe from a "What If?" standpoint, we might have gone in a better direction as a society. There'd be no need for "Imagine," or even later more militant songs from within the African-American community like Sly Stone's "Don't Call Me Whitey, N*****." This was actually a really great post. Don't let people tell you differently.
I think no Beatles means the American music scene would never have been overtaken by the British Invasion. Which means American music would have stayed more based out of Memphis, Detroit, and Chicago. It wouldn't have been American musicians feeding off British musicians influenced by American musicians. American music would be more directly influenced by the blues or jazz or maybe even bluegrass and not British pop. And that would mean probably more call-and-response songs than verse-chorus-verse songs.
Which means probably no Nirvana, which is heavily verse-chorus-verse. So much so, in fact, that Kurt Cobain named a song after the format.
Also, I am no Elvis expert, but I think without The Beatles, Elvis maybe never falls off. Maybe the counter-culture pushes him aside with Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, etc, but what does the counter-culture sound like without the drugged-up experimenting later years version of The Beatles?
Ipso facto, there would be no Pulp Fiction bonus scene and no theory that people could be Beatles People or Elvis People, not both.
The domino effect of a world with no Beatles would also be profound in heavy metal, as the Amazon discussion touches on. First, there would be no Black Sabbath, which means the entire spectrum of heavy metal would look different. No Black Sabbath means no Ozzy, which robs the world of one of music's most interesting personalities.
Maybe the members of The Beatles arrive on the music scene later, maybe they never get bigger than Britain. Maybe they end up in pub bands. Which would mean no "Imagine", no Wings, no popular cover version of "I Got My Mind Set On You", and no whatever it was Ringo did outside of The Beatles.
Wasn't he on The Simpsons once?
(Pic from AlbumTacos.Tumblr.com)