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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 08:38 GMT
The Beatles' musical footprints
The Beatles
The Beatles spanned pop to psychedelia
By music writer Julie Glassman

They may have changed the face of society as we know it, changed the world some would claim, but one thing is for sure - they knew how to write a good pop song.

Little did the Fab Four realise it at the time, but their instantly memorable, melody-driven hits set the precedent for modern pop music.

Sir Elton John
Elton John cites The Beatles as an influence

And while historians and sociologists may argue about the Beatles' effect on society, few would argue about their effect on the music scene.

The fact that they wrote their own material immediately sounded the death knell for many of the professional songwriters on Tin Pan Alley.

Their ability to find an English voice for an American form like rock - and their runaway success in the USA - inspired a whole wave of British rock and pop acts.

Catholic tastes

They were the first group to use the recording studio as a writing tool, building up complex song arrangements by multi-tracking - and importing orchestral textures and avant-garde effects under the guidance of producer George Martin.

Their catholic musical tastes meant that all kinds of genres could be incorporated into contemporary pop - including music hall, ballads, folk and classical pastiches.

And the group is generally seen as the originator of the concept album, with 1967's Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Their influence on artists as diverse as Elton John and Pink Floyd was obvious as the 1970s began.

While the Beatles' star waned with the advent of punk and new wave music in the late 1970s, even then the influence of the Beatles' sound and style could still be heard in artists like Squeeze, the Police and Elvis Costello.

But a decade later a whole new generation of young musicians rediscovered the Fab Four.


The late 1980s, Manchester-centred, musical phenomenon known as "baggy" not only saw its musical aficionados sporting Beatle-esque haircuts but also drew heavily on the 1960s.

In most cases, fusing Beatles psychedelia with electronic elements taken from the simultaneously developing acid house scene.

On an altogether different scale of obsession, Liam Gallagher even named his first son, Lennon

Julia Glassman
The Beatles' influence was particularly present in the guitar-style and song arrangements of The Stone Roses, with guitarist John Squire citing them as one of his main influences.

Nevertheless, with such an amalgamation of sounds, their music never even closely resembled The Beatles.

That was to still to come. First with fellow Liverpudlians The La's, with their 1990 hit, There She Goes.

In 1994, its guitarist John Power formed his own band Cast, and his Lennon-esque vocals and memorable songs still see the band reaping the rewards.

Another Liverpool-formed band, the Boo Radleys, whose biggest hit Wake Up Boo! in 1995 ingested both The Beatles's pop and psychedelic styles.


"There's never been a time when they haven't been a part of my life," songwriter/guitarist, Martin Carr, told Melody Maker in 1994.

Noel Gallagher of Oasis
Oasis: Beatles' copyists
Indeed the mid-90s saw a whole host of Beatles-influenced bands succeeding commercially, such as Dodgy with their uplifting guitar-pop and sun-drenched choruses.

However, taking the world by storm in 1994, with their debut album, Definitely Maybe, Manchester's Gallagher brothers lived and breathed Beatles, to the point of namedropping the Fab Four in every interview.

"It's beyond an obsession. It's an ideal for living. I don't even know how to justify it to myself. With every song that I write, I compare it to The Beatles," Noel Gallagher told Q in 1996.

On an altogether different scale of obsession, Liam Gallagher even named his first son, Lennon.

Remarkable rehash

Although it seemed that the Beatles heavily influenced many of the successful indie bands in the 1990s, their pop has been savoured in unexpected areas too - many people have compared Angels by Robbie Williams with Hey Jude.

Offspring rehashed Ob-la-di Ob-la-da
Even American skate-punk band, Offspring did a remarkable rehash of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da in Why Don't You Get A Job from their Americana album.

Nevertheless, Oasis have been the closest it gets to Beatles copyists, apart from, say, the Bootleg Beatles.

However, although they do steal the occasional Beatles melody, their success has focused around their ability to write their own melodies and then arrange them in a Beatle-esque style, but with a rocky, attitude-dowsed edge.

And although they have never quite experienced The Beatlemania-like levels of success the Fab Four did, they've broken chart records and both Noel and Liam are A-list tabloid fodder.

More importantly though, they can boast almost as many tribute bands as The Beatles.

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