I often like to point out that The Beatles bulldozed the pop charts in 1964—and mercilessly laid waste to the musical milquetoast of the era. The Fabs ruled the Top 40 early that year with their original brand of rock, even holding the top five spots on the Billboard charts that April—a feat unlikely to be repeated in the lifetime of anyone reading this.
It was 50 years ago this month that the the Beatles' grip on the #1 spot was finally broken by Louis Armstrong's “Hello, Dolly!”—a great reminder that most of the artists who had major chart success after the Beatles' arrival had more talent and substance than the ones before (at least since the demise of early rock & roll in 1959). Somehow Satchmo, Mary Wells, the Supremes, and Roy Orbison managed to survive the Beatles’ onslaught. Yes, many decent soul and pop acts were crowded out of the Hit Parade by the British Invasion—and probably had their careers shortened. But one could argue (and I do) that the fittest survived. In the years that followed, the fittest included Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Smoky Robinson and the Miracles. Credit The Beatles and the survivors.
Music critic Elijah Wald in his controversial book, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music, argues the case that a lot of good, solid, rootsy music was elbowed off the stage by the white rock & roll that followed in the wake of The Beatles. A fair point actually.
Yet many of those rock & roll acts are forgotten now. Only the most talented have endured (e.g., the Rolling Stones). And the Stevie Wonders of the world did just fine too. Something good always gets lost in a creative revolution. But what gets generated is usually worth it.