Reactions of some critics to The Beatles during their era

The Beatles cover

No doubt, the famous classic band The Beatles holds a vital part of music history and today’s industry of rock ‘n’ roll.

With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr; The Beatles became widely regarded as the greatest hitmakers of 60’s to 70’s. However, years ago, when they first perform in the USA, the reaction was mixed.

Here is the critics were saying during their era:

Theodore Strongin
New York Times – February 10, 1964
The Beatles’ vocal quality can be described as hoarsely incoherent, with the minimal enunciation necessary to communicate the schematic texts.

Two theories were offered in at least one household to explain the Beatles’ popularity. The specialist said: “We haven’t had an idol in a few years. The Beatles are different, and we have to get rid of our excess energy somehow.”

The other theory is that the longer parents object with such high dudgeon, the longer children will squeal so hysterically.

Los Angeles Times – February 11, 1964
With their bizarre shrubbery, the Beatles are obviously a press agent’s dream combo. Not even their mothers would claim that they sing well. But the hirsute thickets they affect make them rememberable, and they project a certain kittenish charm which drives the immature, shall we say, ape.

George McKinnon
Boston Globe – Feb. 16, 1964
Don’t let the Beatles bother you. If you don’t think about them, they will go away, and in a few more years they will probably be bald.

And teenagers, go ahead and enjoy your Beatlemania. It won’t be fatal and will give you a lot of laughs a few years hence when you find one of their old records or come across a picture of Ringo in a crew cut.

Newsweek – February 24, 1964
Visually they are a nightmare, tight, dandified Edwardian-Beatnik suits and great pudding bowls of hair. Musically they are a near disaster, guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat that does away with secondary rhythms, harmony and melody. Their lyrics (punctuated by nutty shouts of “yeah, yeah, yeah”) are a catastrophe, a preposterous farrago of Valentine-card romantic sentiments …

The big question in the music business at the moment is, will the Beatles last? The odds are that, in the words of another era, they’re too hot not to cool down, and a cooled-down Beatle is hard to picture. It is also hard to imagine any other field in which they could apply their talents, and so the odds are that they will fade away, as most adults confidently predict. But the odds in show business have a way of being broken, and the Beatles have more showmanship than any group in years; they might just think up a new field for themselves. After all, they have done it already.

Donald Freeman
Chicago Tribune – February 29, 1964
The Beatles must be a huge joke, a wacky gag, a gigantic put-on. And if, as the fellow insisted on What’s My Line?, they’re selling 20,000 Beatle wigs a day in New York at $2.98 a shake — then I guess everyone wants to share the joke. And the profits.

William F. Buckley Jr.
Boston Globe – September 13, 1964
An estimable critic writing for National Review, after seeing Presley writhe his way through one of Ed Sullivan’s shows … suggested that future entertainers would have to wrestle with live octopuses in order to entertain a mass American audience. The Beatles don’t in fact do this, but how one wishes they did! And how this one wishes the octopus would win …

The Beatles are not merely awful; I would consider it sacrilegious to say anything less than that they are god awful. They are so unbelievably horribly, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art that they qualify as crowned heads of anti-music, even as the imposter popes went down in history as “anti-popes.”


Source of the excerpts;
New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, Boston Globe

If you want a related story on this, read the article of The Saturday Evening Post titled Why Early Critics Hated the Beatles by clicking this link.

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