The Beatles landing in New York in February 1964 was the opening shot in a cultural revolution nobody predicted. Suddenly the youth of the richest, most powerful nation on earth was trying to emulate the music, manners and the modes of a rainy island that had recently fallen on hard times.
The resulting fusion of American can-do and British fuck-you didn’t just lead to rock and roll’s most resonant music. It ushered in a golden era when a generation of kids born in ration card Britain, who had grown up with their nose pressed against the window of America’s plenty, were invited to wallow in their big neighbour’s largesse.
It deals with a time when everything that was being done – from the Beatles playing Shea Stadium to the Rolling Stones at Altamont, from The Who performing their rock opera at the Metropolitan Opera House to David Bowie touching down in the USA for the first time with a couple of gowns in his luggage – was being done for the very first time.
Rock and roll would never be quite so exciting again.
David Hepworth has been writing, broadcasting and speaking about music and media since the seventies. He was involved in the launch and editing of magazines such as Smash Hits, Q, Mojo and The Word, among many others.
He was one of the presenters of the BBC rock music programme The Old Grey Whistle Test and one of the anchors of the corporation’s coverage of Live Aid in 1985. He has won the Editor of the Year and Writer of the Year awards from the Professional Publishers Association and the Mark Boxer award from the British Society of Magazine Editors.
He lives in London, dividing his time between writing for a variety of newspapers and magazines, speaking at events, broadcasting work, podcasting at www.wordpodcast.co.uk and blogging at www.whatsheonaboutnow.blogspot.co.uk.
He says Chuck Berry’s ‘You Never Can Tell’ is the best record ever made. ‘This is not an opinion,’ he says. ‘It’s a matter of fact.’