Not to be confused with Big beat.
This article is about the genre of music developed in the UK.
For the Apple Inc. music service, see Beats Music.
For other musical beats, see Beat (disambiguation).
"Merseybeat" and "Mersey Sound" redirect here.
For other uses of Merseybeat, see Merseybeat (disambiguation).
For the poetry anthology, see The Mersey Sound (anthology).
|Cultural origins||Late 1950s – early 1960s, UK|
Beat music, British beat, or Merseybeat (after bands from Liverpool and nearby areas beside the River Mersey) is a popular music genre, influenced by rock and roll, skiffle, and traditional pop music, that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1960s.
The exact origins of the terms 'beat music' and 'Merseybeat' are uncertain.
The "beat" in each, however, derived from the driving rhythms which the bands had adopted from their rock and roll, rhythm and blues and soul music influences, rather than the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s.
As the initial wave of rock and roll subsided in the later 1950s, "big beat" music, later shortened to "beat", became a live dance alternative to the balladeers like Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde, and Cliff Richard who were dominating the charts.
The German anthropologist and music critic Ernest Borneman, who lived in England from 1933 to 1960, claimed to have coined the term in a column in Melody Maker magazine to describe the British imitation of American Rock'n'Roll, Rhythm & Blues and Skiffle bands.
Harry claims to have coined the term "based on a policeman's beat and not that of the music".
With the rise of the Beatles in 1963, the terms Mersey sound and Merseybeat were applied to bands and singers from Liverpool, the first time in British pop music that a sound and a location were linked together.
The rhythm itself—described by Alan Clayson as "a changeless four-four offbeat on the snare drum"—was developed in the clubs in Hamburg, West Germany, where many English groups, including the Beatles, performed in the early 1960s and where it was known as the mach schau (make show) beat.
The 8/8 rhythm was flexible enough to be adopted for songs from a range of genres.
In addition, according to music writer Dave Laing,
In the late 1950s, a flourishing culture of groups began to emerge, often out of the declining skiffle scene, in major urban centres in the UK like Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London.
This was particularly true in Liverpool, where it has been estimated that there were around 350 different bands active, often playing ballrooms, concert halls and clubs.
Liverpool was perhaps uniquely placed within Britain to be the point of origin of a new form of music.
Commentators have pointed to a combination of local solidarity, industrial decline, social deprivation, and the existence of a large population of Irish origin, the influence of which has been detected in Beat music.
It was also a major port with links to America, particularly through the Cunard Yanks, which made for much greater access to American records and instruments like guitars, which could not easily be imported due to trade restrictions.
As a result, Beat bands were heavily influenced by American groups of the era, such as Buddy Holly and the Crickets (from which group the Beatles derived their name, combining it with a pun on the beat in their music), and to a lesser extent by British rock and roll groups such as the Shadows.
After the national success of the Beatles in Britain from 1962, a number of Liverpool performers were able to follow them into the charts, including Gerry & The Pacemakers, the Searchers, and Cilla Black.
The first act who were not from Liverpool or managed by Brian Epstein to break through in the UK were Freddie and the Dreamers, who were based in Manchester, a short distance away, as were Herman's Hermits and the Hollies.
From London, the term Tottenham Sound was largely based around the Dave Clark Five, but other London-based British rhythm and blues and rock bands who benefited from the beat boom of this era included the Rolling Stones, the Kinks and the Yardbirds.
Main article: British Invasion
The Beatles' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show soon after led to chart success.
During the next two years, the Animals, Petula Clark, the Dave Clark Five, the Rolling Stones, Donovan, Peter and Gordon, Manfred Mann, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Zombies, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Herman’s Hermits, and the Troggs would have one or more number one singles in America.
Main article: Freakbeat
The term was coined by English music journalist Phil Smee.
Allmusic writes that "freakbeat" is loosely defined, but generally describes the more obscure but hard-edged artists of the British Invasion era such as the Creation, the Pretty Things or Denny Laine's early solo work.
By 1967, beat music was beginning to sound out of date, particularly compared with the "harder edged" blues rock that was beginning to emerge.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beat music.