British Invasion Bands

British Invasion bands playing at U.S. locations, including Carnegie Hall, 1965.

The Bands that lead the British Invasion 

How did the British Invasion bands get their start? British bands, and music, were in short supply prior to the Beatles and the Liverpool sound, the world market was a largely American dominated. Even stars from the U.K. that occasionally broke through with hits sang with American accents. Often, they tied to conceal where they were from, so adopted the American accent as much as possible..

Forerunner of the Beat Era, a skiffle group at a Liverpool venue.The scene in any club in Britain in the 50's, a hot skiffle group. Note the tea Chest bass.

The British Invasion Bands that Got it all Started

Trad jazz and skiffle, were the exception the this rule. And it was in the Jazz clubs around the cities of England, especially the sea ports, where the British Boom had it's beginning

How did the British Invasion Bands get the whole thing started?

At the end of 1962, readers of the Melody Maker music paper voted Cliff Richard  and Helen Shapiro best U.K. Singers. But in the clubs of cities in the U.K., like Liverpool, musicians were listening to records brought back from America of a different form of music. In Liverpool, and other U.K. cities, in the '50's the skiffle groups thrived.

Merseybeat on the move. A Liverpool band at the Cavern.The Cavern, a typical lunchtime session.

 Liverpool Sets the Scene!

But, by early 1960, a lot of kids had put these guitars and improvised instruments away, as the slickly arranged American music, dominating the English charts, took over. The Shadows being a notable exception.

And in Liverpool, it things started to happen. This was the birthplace of the British Invasion!

Merseyside had long had a strong independent identity. The Liverpool folk started listening to American R&B and Country music brought over on ships by the Merchant sailers. This music was not generally available to other British towns, and greatly appealed to the kids of Liverpool.

Steadily, the washboards and tea chests were replaced by guitars and drum kits.

The Cavern, the line up to watch the lunch time sessions.The cue to get into the Cavern, any lunchtime in Liverpool in the early 60's

Things Get Serious!

The jazz clubs gradually moved over to this new music and, by 1961 in Liverpool there were over 300 beat groups plying their trade in the city. As these numbers grew, so did the number of places that the bands could play. A process began that was repeated in London a few years later.

The stage was set for the British invasion bands, and the ones that followed.

The most famous of these, of course, was the Cavern, where the Beatles played hundreds of times. Here there were lunch time sessions, as well as the evening sets. So, this was the birthplace of the British Invasion, the bands that blazed the trail and took American music back to America.

The early leather clad Beatles, at the Caver.Left to right, George,(with his new Gretsch guitar) Pete, John and Paul, in a typical sweaty session at he cavern.

So Who Were The British Invasion Bands?

The Cavern, how young does George look? Pre Brian Epstein days.The same night, Paul doing his ballad set with John harmonizing.

The Beatles, spotted by Brian Epstein at the Cavern, were of course, the ones that got it all started.

The Dave Ckarke Five, the first band to knock The Beatles off the No. 1 spot.

Dave Clark Five, were next, of the British invasion bands with “Glad All Over” being the first band to knock the Beatles off the top of the charts. Soon, the Rolling Stones, originally a blues band from Richmond, Surrey, were also getting attention, and became “The greatest rock and roll band in the world”

The Searchers, tight harmonies and clean image, were for a while the second most popular group in Liverpool.

Then the flood, the second most popular band on Merseyside. Classic faultless harmonies were a feature of The Searchers, who actually toured down here in Australia with the Stones.

The Hollies, proved to be one of the most consistent bands from the British Invasion, and are still playing today.

And speaking of harmonies, how were those magic harmonies of  The Hollies?  Another very British, clean cut band who still sound as good today!

Manfred Mann, one of the first Blues Bands to have chart success.

The influence of the British Blues scene started to show itself on the charts, and one of the best of them was Manfred Mann.The classic vocals and harmonica playing of Paul Jones was a feature of this fine band. Variations of this band have continued till quite recently. 

The Yardbirds were one of the most fashionable blues groups on the London scene in 1963.

And of course, one of the most important of the British invasion bands of the 60's, the Yardbirds, from whose ranks came Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page.

Has any other band contributed more?

Gerry and The Pacemakers.

Cementing the Liverpool domination of the charts, Liverpool's Gerry and The Pacemakers, signed by Brian Epstein, and produced by George Martin had three No. 1 hits in a row. This record stands to this day. Mersey beat had arrived, with Gerry being the second Mersey band to score a Number 1 hit