Monday, 12 December 2016

The British Invasion

BBC Radio 6 Music broadcast: 28th October 2016

Three bands influenced rock legend Alice Cooper more than any other: The Yardbirds, The Kinks, and The Who. All of them British. In this documentary, Alice tells the story of how The Beatles' triumphant arrival in New York City on 7 February 1964, opened the doors to the British Invasion and changed American music forever.

From 1964 to 1966, Britain sent a stream of hits across the Atlantic. Behind The Beatles; Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Dave Clark Five, the Animals, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Freddie and the Dreamers, Herman's Hermits, the Rolling Stones and the Troggs all topped Billboard's singles chart.

These invaders had borrowed American rock music and returned it, restyled and refreshed. And after the drab post-war years, suddenly it was cool to be a Brit. American groups emerged who dressed and sounded just like them, such as The Beau Brummels, The Buckinghams and most famously, The Monkees.

The Invasion established the UK record industry as one of the biggest in the world, as well as the idea of bands composing their own tunes. But it lasted only a couple of years. John Lennon's infamous comment that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus was the first nail in the coffin, and eventually British and US artists ceased to sound different from each other.

Alice Cooper describes this exciting time in British music from a US point of view, talking to witnesses such as Beatles' road manager Tony Bramwell and legendary documentary-maker Albert Maysles; copycat bands such as The Buckinghams; and the artists themselves: Gerry Marsden, Petula Clark, Peter Noone from Herman's Hermits, Reg Presley from The Troggs, Lenny Davidson from the Dave Clark Five, The Hollies and Mike Pender from The Searchers.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 2.

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