The arrival of the Beatles triggered a musical revolution in the Sixties. Emerging from Liverpool, England, the Fab Four's sound took root in Europe, with songs like "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me" touching an audience who were looking for something to take them from the doldrums into which rock and roll had fallen. "In England, during those very early days, just while the Beatles were recording their first songs, it was a real wasteland – England had nothing to really offer as far as pop music was concerned," said the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger when he inducted the Beatles into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. "At that point, the Stones were playing in these little clubs in London, doing Chuck Berry songs and blues and things, and we loved doing that. And we were a pretty scruffy lot, and we thought we were totally unique – animals – I mean there was no one like us. And then we heard there was a group from Liverpool."
The Beatles’ music - with its simultaneous refinement (crisp harmonies, solid musicianship, canny pop instincts) and abandon (energetic singing and playing, much screaming and shaking of mop-topped locks) – ignited the latent energy of youth on both sides of the Atlantic. "They had long hair, scruffy clothes, but they had a record contract – and they had a record in the charts, with a bluesy harmonica on it called 'Love Me Do.' When I heard the combination of all these things, I was almost sick," recalled Jagger.
"So, a little later on, we were playing this little club in Richmond, and I was doing this song and suddenly I saw there they were, right in from of me, the Fab Four – John, Paul, George and Ringo, the four headed monster – they never went anywhere alone at this point," said Jagger. "And they had on these beautiful, long black leather trench coats. I could really die for one of those. I thought, even if I have to learn how to write songs, I'm gonna get this. Later on, they gave us our first big hit in England, which was a song they wrote called 'I Wanna Be Your Man,' and we were very grateful for that, because that really broke us in England."
When the Beatles landed on American shores on February 7, 1964, they set the stage for a movement that would redefine pop culture and shape the musical agenda for the rest of the decade. They helped confer self-identity upon a youthful, music-based culture that flexed its muscle in myriad ways - not just as music consumers but also as a force for political expression, social commentary and contemporary lifestyles.
"Their success in America broke down a lot of doors that helped everyone else from England that followed, so I thank them very much for all those things," said Jagger. "We went through some pretty strange times. We had sort of a lot of rivalry in those early years and a little bit of friction, but we always ended up friends, and I'd like to think we still are. They were some of the greatest times of our lives, and I'm really proud to be the one who leads them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."
WATCH: The Beatles accept Hall of Fame Awards at the 1988 Induction Ceremony
WATCH: The Beatles and Friends Perform "I Saw Her Standing There" at the 1988 Hall of Fame Inductions