Redcoats, Rockabilly and Black Leather Jackets by Mike Mairno Forget the Big Bang Theory!

The Rock and Roll Universe was created by a down and dirty big back beat of rockabilly with attitude, cascading duck-tails piled hig h , greased up and dressed head to toe in black leather, and it carried a switch blade and a pack of ribbed rubbers for the back seat communion of underaged body and flesh sweating to the beat, naked and spent by the time the song ended. It was three plays for a quarter down, and 50 cents and a gallon of gas got you lai d. It was Fifties America, and we ruled the rock and roll kingdom. Haleys Comets an d a handfull of Crickets were ripping the doors of the Hit Parade off their hing es and the crooners and swooners were collapsing faster than a paraplegic trying to walk after taking too much morphine. Doris Day's day was as dead as a Kenned y and Sinatra was replaced by Presley, doing Hound Dog his way. It was Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, bopping Lula to a be bop beat, Eddie Coc hran suffering from too much Summertime Blues and Little Richard was Little Quee nie before Little Queenie. Good Golly, it's Miss Molly Penniman. Meanwhile across the pond, there were four Liverpudlians who were feasting on a steady rock and roll diet of Buddy Holly and Elvis, Cochran and Vincent, Holly a nd Penniman. American rockabilly and British skiffle were now unknowingly headed on a collison course that would trigger a tsunami of Mop Top Mania and an earth quake and rock aftershock that would swallow a whole generation in it's wake. John, Paul, George and Ringo were the Fab Four equivilent of the Lewis and Clark looking for a route to the top of the American music charts. The land of Billbo ard, the bible, the gospel according to the record buying teen public. The Rock God was number one with a bullet and the Virgin Mary was a backup singer in sequ ins. The Beatles? Don't you mean the Quarrymen, (good working class title for working class lads) who formed in 1957. By 1960 they had morphed into the Beatles, or a t least the first incarnation of the Beatles as back up group for Tony Sheridan and the Beatles. Who the fuck is Tony Sheridan? Not a Fifth Beatle by any stretc h. He ain't no Pete Best or Stu Sutcliffe. Speaking of Stu, he was Lennon's best friend at the time, and is the one who proposed the name, "Beetles" as a workin g band name. It was borrowed from the black leather jacket punk cinema big screen drive-in fi lm "The Wild One" with Marlon (I'ev Got Real Balls!0 Brando. The story was based loosely on the Hells Angels rampage in Hollister, California in the post-war 19 40's. The film also showcased a young real life bad-ass Lee Marvin as leader of one of the gangs, The Beetles. Although they all liked the name, it was John Len non who suggested the spelling we are more familiar with...The Beatles. Yeah, ye ah, yeah..the Beat. At first they played small clubs in and around Liverpool as well as dingy dive c lubs in Munich, most notably the Star Club. Their following began to grow and wi th Brian Epstein at the helm as manager they got a recording contract and releas ed their first single Love Me Do in the UK, it made it's way to the US and blast ed through the roof. Hit after hit followed from She Was Just Seventeen, I Want to Hold Your Hand to the all familiar, She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah...there w as no stopping them at this point. The initial Beatles sound was heavy on the pop side of the fence before it got m ore experimental with the concept album Sgt. Pepper and songs like Norweigian Wo od. The early sound according to Lennon was influenced by the Pineapple Princess and former Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello! The studio elements are what the Bea tles liked, the beat, the movement of the song and was adopted by them at first, which paid off in hit after hit. By 1964 a tour was arranged in the US and when they landed at the airport in New York to thousands of sceaming fans to greet them, the boys didn't know it was f or them. Lennon asked if the Presidents plane had landed. When it finally hit th em it was overwhelming. They knocked 'em dead across the country in stadiums and large indoor venues. While on this first tour, Epstein contacted America's olde st living teenager at the time anyway, Dick Clark. Dick is dead for those keepin g track, but for whateve reason, he delcined.

Maybe it was the name - American Bandstand...the Beatles were not American after all..Dick had spent years with young new artists bent over forwards and treating him like God Almighty, but here was something bigger than Bandstand and Dick kn ew it, so the next call was to Ed "Really Big Shoe" Sullivan, the anti-Christ of Broadway. The anti-Christ recognized the ratings bonanza and even though he was an asshole in real life, he was also a realist and a showman. Sullivan was their first "live" appearance on American TV, however taped perform ances where shown prior to Sullivan on CBS News with Walter Cronkite, the Milton Berle Show and Jack Paar. By the way, in case you didn't know, Dick Clark is de ad. The tour got bigger after the Sullivan show, Beatles hits fired off like bullets from a Gatling Gun taking over the charts as never before mowing down the old g uard, and the way was paved for the next British Invasion of the former colonies was the age of Mods and Rockers, and it was time for Bobby Rydell and even Elvis to move over and make way. The Redcoats were landing once again on our sh ores in a vinyl record assault that would rule the AM radio dial and forever cha nge rock and roll and the way we listened to it.

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