This past Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ final concert (1/30/69). So I thought it was a good time to share my super-authoritative opinion on just what made them so ridiculously popular.
In the early 60’s, the Beatles hit the scene, and with their level of success, they probably could have retired after a couple of years and lived comfortably for the rest of their lives. (Of course, we’re glad they didn’t!)
Now when the Beatles first became known, their biggest fans were young teens, mostly girls. I remember seeing them on the Ed Sullivan show (yeah, I’m old enough) and being frustrated that I couldn’t hear the song over the screaming of the audience!
If the Beatles had kept making the same kind of music as when they started, the boatloads of money would still have been there, and after a while, their fans would’ve outgrown them and they could have comfortably retired and done the oldies circuit, or just gotten new young fans.
But as Monk would say, “Here’s what happened”. As their young fans were growing up, the Beatles grew up too! They went from this:
So just as their fans were ready to outgrow their music, they allowed themselves to grow musically and basically kept up with their fans. Fans that would have simply had the Beatles as a fond memory from their teenage years were actually able to stick with the Beatles, whose music was maturing just like the fans were. It’s as if those little wax “soda” bottles of flavored juice suddenly were filled with wine.
Of course, we can’t downplay the fact that they were absolute geniuses at songwriting. And I don’t think they purposely decided “It’s time to grow up now”. I think that just about the time their fans would have gotten tired of their early music, they got tired of it too, and started moving on. That was enough to turn their fans into superfans for life!
Not to mention bringing their kids and grandkids along.