1960s: The Beatles
The Beatles were rejected by a slew of record labels before settling in at EMI-Parlophone in 1962. That's not an entirely unfamiliar scenario when it comes to unsigned bands, but it's certainly the biggest A&R blunder in musical history. After countless slammed doors, producer George Martin decided to give these four mop-haired boys from Liverpool a chance, birthing a rock-and-roll hysteria known as Beatlemania in the process.
Why the Beatles gripped first the British, then the Americans, and then the entire globe with such a manic stronghold was first and foremost because of their music. The band's intricate harmonies, memorable melodies, and complex arrangements - all self-written and self-performed - established the prototype for the four-piece band. Rather than repeat the recipe of past pop successes (as most bands in the 1950s and early '60s were inclined to do), they maintained a stalwart antiformulaic approach to their music, becoming fierce innovators along the way. Once the catchy hooks were combined with their photogenic good looks, media-friendly personalities, endearing confidence, and endlessly exciting lifestyles, Beatlemania was born, ushering in the first and biggest British musical invasion in history.
Though the Beatles' contribution to music is incalculable, one thing is for sure: They wouldn't consistently reverberate in iPods today if their ability to evolve and adapt their music over the years - in an undisputed artistic progression - was missing from their résumé. What started out as radio-friendly, borderline-cheesy pop in the early '60s ("Love Me Do," "I Want to Hold Your Hand") became avant-garde, psychedelic rock-and-roll epics by the time the decade ended ("Strawberry Fields Forever," "Tomorrow Never Knows"). No band in history has ever done that so effortlessly and so effectively.
Our Signature Track: "Hey Jude"
The Underdogs: (Translation: You may or may not have heard of them; either way, they weren't as famous [or as rich] as the group above. But they were just as cool.)
Dick Dale and His Del-Tones, "Let's Go Trippin'"
The Turtles, "Outside Chance"
Gerry & the Pacemakers, "How Do You Do It?"