By ’64, Elvis was fading in bad movies. Doo-wop was being retired, and the creativity limits were being tested on radio for something new.
Sure, President Kennedy had died. It’s an event in the minds of all baby boomers. But it wasn’t the older Freedom Riders who built the Beatles, it wasn’t college students or intellectual pipe smokers, it was the adolescents who saddled up to the new sound the way today’s kids jump onto Snapchat.
Nor was it a cultural turnaround based on a needed pick me up after the assassination, but instead a middle of the winter, unforeseen left field assault, that drove us all to the radio and the record store.
And similar to the Harley-Davidson riding experience of meeting people and the connections to their stories and backgrounds — what the Beatles did — was bring us together, our bond with their music connected us.
We’d been infected by “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Not because of media manipulation, but because the music had energy and they were cool. Some people got it and some didn’t but in a matter of days, it was Beatlemania.
It was also a time when the roar of Harleys and the sight of long-haired bikers was still new and – for the average law-abiding citizen – unfathomable. The day-to-day existence of these leather-clad rebels was as foreign as the Beatles arriving from the UK. The bikers didn’t have jobs and despised most everything that Americans valued – stability and security. They rode their bikes, hung out in bars for days on end and brawled with anyone who messed with them.
The Beatles changed music forever and the ‘romance’ of the open road was an illuminating time in 1964. If you were there, you remember it.
Biker photo courtesy of Bill Ray. H-D tank photo courtesy of Beatlesbike.com