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The British Invasion was a period of 1960s music in which a large number of British rock & roll groups became popular in the US. Many of these performers had already gained some success and fame in the UK prior to the release of their records and live performances in the US. This is often associated with “Beatlemania,” though it is unfair to give credit for the explosion of British music in the US solely to The Beatles. The British Invasion involved numerous musicians and rock groups including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Hollies, Dusty Springfield, and Herman’s Hermits.
Though rock & roll music was quite popular throughout the 1960s in the US, many people assert that the beginning of the British Invasion of rock music was in 1964. American music in the 1950s and early 1960s had begun to move away from blues-influenced musicians and the early rock music of performers like Elvis Presley, as female singing groups and teenage musicians became more popular. In the UK, however, performers like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly had inspired young musicians to experiment with rock & roll. Many of these young performers were in Liverpool, which has often been given credit as the birthplace of the British Invasion.
The initial invasion can be said to have begun in 1962. This is when a single called Telstar by The Tornadoes became the first #1 single in the US by a British musical group. In December of 1963, I Want to Hold Your Hand by The Beatles was played on American radio stations and the single was released to remarkable success. 1964 is often credited as the beginning of the full British Invasion, however, due to the live performance by The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show on 9 February and the ensuing storm of fame and publicity for them.
While The Beatles are often seen as the face of the British Invasion, the particular fame of The Beatles is often referred to specifically as “Beatlemania.” A number of other music groups and performers followed them into popularity in the US, including The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits. Dusty Springfield was renowned for her vocal style and became one of the most well-known and successful female artists of the 1960s. The Rolling Stones, who were also an important group for the British Invasion, were typically seen as representing another side of British music, with a stronger blues influence and music and lyrics that were often darker and more sexual in nature.