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The Beatles

The Beatles: Image and the Media

Copyright Date: 2007
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  • Book Info
    The Beatles
    Book Description:

    The Beatles: Image and the Mediacharts the transformation of the Beatles from teen idols to leaders of the youth movement and powerful cultural agents. Drawing upon American mainstream print media, broadcasts, albums, films, and videos, the study covers the band's career in the United States. Michael R. Frontani explores how the Beatles' media image evolved and how this transformation related to cultural and historical events.

    Upon their arrival in the U.S., the Beatles wore sharply tailored suits and cast themselves as adorable, accessible teen heartthrobs. By the end of the decade, they had absorbed the fashion and consciousness of the burgeoning counterculture and were using their interviews, media events, and music to comment on issues such as the Vietnam War, drug culture, and civil rights. Frontani traces the steps that led to this change and comments on how the band's mantra of essential optimism never wavered despite the evolution of its media profile.

    Michael R. Frontani is associate professor of communications at Elon University. His work has appeared inAmerican Journalism,Journal of American Culture,Journalism History, andAfrican Studies Review.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-156-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XVI)
    Michael R. Frontani
  4. ONE “The Twentieth Century’s Greatest Romance”: Imagining the Beatles
    (pp. 1-19)

    Many baby boomers could recite the facts of how a group of working class kids lived their own rags-to-riches story, rising from the tough northern English port city of Liverpool to enjoy the greatest commercial success ever witnessed in the history of popular music. They could tell how these four lads—John, Paul, George, and Ringo—affected everything from hairstyles to philosophies. In fact, many children (and grandchildren) of baby boomers could tell you the basic story. Many more could deliver a favorite lyric or two. The Beatles remain successful nearly four decades after their breakup, and they continue to...

  5. TWO “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles!”: Introducing the Image
    (pp. 20-69)

    As John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr crossed the Atlantic on Pan Am flight 101, there was a sense of excitement, for success in America would solidify the position of the Beatles as Britain’s greatest exponents of pop music; yet the Beatles were apprehensive. McCartney confided to Phil Spector, the American record producer accompanying the group “across the pond,” that “America has always had everything…. Why should we be over there making money? They’ve got their own groups. What are we going to give them that they don’t already have?” (Giuliano 82). Unknown to McCartney and the...

  6. THREE “Preparing Our Teenagers for Riot and Ultimate Revolution”: The Touring Years, 1964–66
    (pp. 70-125)

    On February 18, 1964, a week prior to the Beatles’ departure from the United States, theNew York Timesnoted that the Beatles had signed with United Artists Corporation to star in a movie (“Beatles Signed” 28). Riding high on their success in Great Britain, the Beatles inked a three-picture deal with United Artists even before actively testing the U.S. market. United Artists felt Beatlemania would peak by the summer, so they required the film be completed by June 1964. Hence, the film’s preproduction was under way prior to the Beatles’ first visit to the United States.

    In October 1963,...

  7. FOUR “The Mood of the Sixties”: The Beatles as Artists, 1966–68
    (pp. 126-177)

    In the post-Beatlemania period following the end of touring, the Beatles attempted to leave behind their show-business image and to make their public image more authentic and consistent with their perceptions of themselves. The Beatles’ new image broke with the “Fab Four” of the Beatlemania years and instead presented them as artists and committed counterculturalists. This chapter examines various aspects of the image that emerged in the mainstream media in the years 1966–68.

    To be sure, the image created and fostered during the days of Beatlemania continued to exert an influence over perceptions of the band and its importance....

  8. FIVE “Beatlepeople”: Rolling Stone, 1967–70
    (pp. 178-214)

    Writing in late 1968, Jann Wenner, the young founder and editor ofRolling Stone, made no bones about the importance of the Beatles to the youth culture of the 1960s: “In considering the Beatles, … we are actually considering several much bigger things: we are, of course, considering the Beatles as individuals; we are considering their impact on the world; we are considering the whole question of ‘rock and roll’; we are considering the world we live in and we are considering ourselves.” Wenner’s concept of the Beatles was, in fact, so inextricably bound to his vision for the counterculture...

  9. SIX “Beautiful People”: The Beatles’ Idealized Past
    (pp. 215-236)

    This book began with the death of John Lennon. As we have seen, the Beatles’ image embodied, reflected, and sometimes was a catalyst for, much of the change that occurred during the 1960s. Small wonder, then, that Lennon’s death unleashed such a torrent of comment both celebrating and condemning the accomplishments of that decade. The airwaves and newsstands were inundated with news of the event and assessments of Lennon’s and the Beatles’ impact on society. The media saturation was such that theNew York Times’ Elizabeth Flynn commented, “Almost more ruthless than Lennon’s death was the press coverage.” She criticized...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 237-254)
    (pp. 255-274)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 275-286)