When the Beatles touched down in New York on February 7, 1964 for their first visit to America, they brought with them a sound that hadn't been heard before. By the time they returned to England two weeks later, major changes in music, fashion, the record industry, and the image of an entire generation had been set into motion. Coming less than three months after the assassination of President Kennedy, the Beatles' visit helped rouse the country out of mourning. A breathless and condescending media concentrated on the band's hairstyles and their adoring fans, but their enduring importance lay in their music, their wit, and style, a disconnect that signaled the beginning of the generation gap. In this intriguing cultural history, Martin Goldsmith examines how and why the Beatles struck such a lasting chord.
Martin Goldsmith (Kensington, MD), the author of The Inextinguishable Symphony (0-471-35097-4), is a program director for XM Satellite Radio in Washington, D.C. From 1989 to 1999, he hosted Performance Today, NPR's daily classical music program.