Assistant Professor of History and Political Science Chad Martin gave a lecture on the Beatles’ lasting impact on history on Feb. 18.
Martin opened the lecture just as The Beatles opened the Ed Sullivan Show more than 50 years ago, with their performance of “All My Loving.” He used a clip of the original 1964 performance to show the way this iconic band affected the youth of the time.
All that could be heard through the speakers was the roar of the crowd. On the screen, the video showed hundreds of teens who had lined up around the block to see the Fab Four. At that time no one knew that “The Ed Sullivan Show” was just the beginning of what was to come from the four young men from Liverpool.
According to thebeatles.com, 74 million viewers in the United States. and millions more in Canada tuned in to CBS to watch the Beatles make their American television debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Martin showed just a few of the books that he owns that are related to the Beatles and books that ranged from John Lennon’s political beliefs to a study of the Beatles’ influence on fashion. Martin said that The Beatles embodied the 1960s and many of the things we see as stereotypes of that era such as the hippie movement, were started by the Fab Four.
“The Beatles were not from the 60s, they were of the 60s. You can’t separate The Beatles from their time,” Martin said. “Their music is timeless. But in order to understand where the music comes from, you have to understand the time period as well.”
According to Martin, the Beatles made the culture follow them wherever they went, for good and for bad. When The Beatles let their hair grow long, the young people followed. When The Beatles used LSD, the young people followed. When the Beatles came out in support of peace, the young people followed. Martin said that there has been no single cultural entity that ever has had the same pull on a generation.
“The Beatles are everything that you want them to be [musically]. The thing with The Beatles was that especially from ’65 onward, they were recording albums that would have a great diversity on them that you would not generally find today,” Martin said. “You will never find the breadth of influence that is on a Beatles album, especially ‘The White Album.’”
Musically, the Beatles made as much change as they did in culture. As Martin explained, the Beatles self-titled album, better known as “The White Album,” reflected at least five entirely different genres of music.
Freshman business major Omar Posadas-Cuaya, said that Martin’s lecture taught him things about The Beatles that he had not known previously.
“I think that [the lecture] was really interesting,” he said. “I didn’t know that the Beatles didn’t know how to read music, and now I would like to try to teach myself a little too. I also didn’t know that they came from such a poor area [of England].”
Martin concluded the lecture the same way that the Beatles ended their show, with their music. In the end, that primarily is what they will be remembered for.
Martin and the University of Indianapolis are not the only ones who are remembering The Beatles near the 50year anniversary of the their U.S debut. In January, iTunes released a re-mastered 13-album collection of the Beatles’ music in celebration of the anniversary.