A melody drifts through a Martin Hall dorm room. The tune is as familiar to the dorm’s resident as it is to his baby boomer parents.
“This is probably one of my favorites,” says Brian Gerety, a sophomore business administration major from Omaha. “The ‘White Album’ was revolutionary.”
As the song continues, Gerety reflects on his first memories of a band that changed
“It was my parents who first introduced me to the Beatles. They were always huge fans, so they always played Beatles music for me and my sister,” he said. “The first song I can ever remember singing along to was ‘Yellow Submarine,’ and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Even as a second- generation fan, Gerety says the Beatles were more than
a band. To him and millions of fans worldwide, the Beatles were a cultural icon.
In 1960, four young musicians from Liverpool, England came together to form the Beatles. The group’s lineup consisted of John Lennon on rhythm guitar and vocals, Paul McCartney on bass guitar and vocals, George Harrison on lead guitar and vocals and Ringo Starr on drums and vocals.
“I’ve heard my parents say that at first, the group was just knocking our pop songs without thinking much about the lyrics, but as they got more popular, the words started to take on more of a meaning,” Gerety said.
More than four decades after the group’s first recorded album in 1963, the music of the Beatles, as well as the band members themselves live on in infamy.
“The Beatles were always a step ahead of everyone else,” said Steve Rothenberger, UNK professor of biology and loyal Beatles fan. “Just as everyone started looking like them and dressing like them, they would change their image.
They really were movers and shakers of the time.”
The popular early Beatles “mop top” haircut, tailored suits and mod/pop style gave way to longer hair and a more disheveled style as the decade wore on. According to Rothenberger, their style throughout the years was as iconic as the band’s music.
As part of the British Invasion of Rock n Roll, Rothenberger said the Beatles catchy and soulful music helped launch them to fast fame in America.
An appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964 solidified their celebrity status in the U.S.
“The music is easy to listen to. It’s universal but unique, and the lyrics, especially in their later albums, are just great. Songs like ‘Let It Be,’ and ‘All You Need Is Love’ really have something to say, not just about one generation, or one era, but about the whole world. I think that, combined with their image and their philosophy on life, is what makes them so influential.”
UNK reference librarian Antehnette Mendoza agrees. Her recollections of the Beatles echo popular sentiment of the 1960s.
“They defined a generation. It was a time when so many of us were questioning our parents and teachers. The Vietnam War was in full swing. Things were changing so fast,” she said. “The Beatles were new and different and just what we needed. They were at the forefront of a revolution in society.”
Mendoza recalls a Beatles concert she attended in September 1964 with her sister.
“Our seats were way at the back, with the crowd roaring and jumping up and down between us and the stage, such that we really couldn’t see much of anything more than four small heads moving on the stage occasionally. Despite this, my sister Mona and I knew we were witnessing something very special,” she said, noting how much times have changed. “Most of us are in our sixties or so, now, and wonder what happened to that ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ of which we were such joyful sojourners.”
Although the revolution of the 60s has passed, a different revolution exists for fans like Gerety: A musical revolution.
“Every now and then a band or artist will come out and have a huge influence, but I don’t think any other musicians will have that perfect recipe like the Beatles did. They had such an impact on so many levels, but especially musically,” Gerety says, turning up his iPod.