By my reckoning it all started 50 years ago this Monday. On the morning of February 11, 1963, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr descended on EMI studios at 3 Abbey Road in St. John’s Wood, London and in workmanlike fashion laid down 10 songs in less than 13 hours.
Producer George Martin could only marvel, "I don't know how they do it. We've been recording all day but the longer we go on the better they get." By 10:45 pm, after the last guitar chord of “Twist and Shout” had faded into the night (and the last of Lennon’s vocal cords had been thoroughly shredded) the insurgency was underway. Pop music and pop culture would never be the same.
Released five and a half weeks later, their Please Please Me LP would be #1 on the British charts for 30 weeks, to be replaced by their next album, With the Beatles for 21 more weeks. Thanks to these four insurrectionists, rock & roll—which had been in sleepy hibernation since the departure from the rock scene of Elvis, Chuck, Buddy, Richard, and Jerry Lee a few years earlier—was storming back to life in a more virulent, mutant form and would soon be ravaging the pop charts worldwide and laying waste to the easy listening format that had crept back onto the hit parade.
Disruptive innovation at its best. Creative destruction at its worst. Industries were launched. Careers were ended.
Meanwhile, 3280 miles away in Arlington Massachusetts, I had all but given up on rock & roll after its quick demise in the late 50s. While the Fab Four were busily banging out songs in St. John’s Wood that Saturday, I was busily boning up for Latin and Greek exams at Boston College High School—contemplating an academic career perhaps in pre-Socratic philosophy or New Testament Greek. Little did I know that a young “beat group” would scramble my plans for scholastic conquests and soon draw me into the wild and wicked world of rock & roll.