Originally Posted by CoreyM
Like I said, it was just food for thought, but let me add that I'm rather heavily involved in the rockabilly/roots rock scene. The majority of the music being played in this scene pre-dates the Beatles, I routinely see the handful of living artists whos careers pre-date the Beatles and a number of current bands that are influenced by these artists, cover their songs and write their own songs in the same roots/americana style which pre-dates the Beatles. If they were to list their influences they would all pre-date the Beatles. Let's not forget that the Beatles started out doing rather lousy covers of American rock and roll tunes. So while they may very well be the greatest band ever according to most measures, I still stand by my comment because of notions like these that go widely undebated that everyone that picks up an instrument does so because of the Beatles because I know for a fact that that just isn't true. I mean the very same argument made that people can't/won't/don't understand or appreciate their influence could very well be made for all the 50s rock acts that go widely unrecognized or underappreciated to this day without which bands like the Beatles would likely never have existed as we know them. That's all I'm saying, of course they're great.
You are talking about influences and I am talking about revolutionary and evolutionary advancement of an art form. Obviously the Beatles were influenced by the very music you are talking about--they were big fans of Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran etc as well as Chuck Berry, Little Richard. Every musician has influences.
Where the Beatles take the next step forward beyond what those great artists did is they were an integral part of a whole societal change in the mid 60s, and they went from singing and playing nice little pop tunes to writing (with Dylan's huge influence) incredible works of poetry that evolved way beyond Be Bop a Lu La. The idea that a teen pop band in 1965 could write a 'serious' ballad like Yesterday was unprecedented at the time. The idea that you could take a pop song and meld it with a chamber orchestra and sing a song about death (Eleanor Rigby) in 1965 was so beyond what had been done up to that point in popular music that it is hard to fathom unless you really know that era or lived it. The idea that you would use songs as a way to comment on society and protest a war, before Dylan and the Beatles was unheard of for the most part. The idea that you would sell an ALBUM of commonly linked thematic songs was virtually unheard of until the mid 60s. The whole process of RECORDING an album with different sounds beyond guitar, bass, drums and vocal was virtually nonexistent before the Beatles in the mid 60s.
So, yes, 50's rock and roll certainly influenced the Beatles, but as great as Carl Perkins was, and even as influential as Elvis was, that type of music did not introduce a fundamental paradigm shift in society and pop culture---that did not occur until Dylan and the Beatles in the mid 60s. That kind of revolution/evolution only occurs in culture once every 50 years or so, if even that IMO. That's why their influence is immeasurable, and I think people under age 40 have difficulty assessing it because they have lived in the world the Beatles helped form their whole life.