The American Rivals to the Beatles - Warning its a long blog...

I have always been fascinated by the American musicians that came out of the 60s.  Obviously, the Beatles are in another level in talent, however there where many great bands from United States that in ways rivaled the Beatles in popularity and talent.  These bands might not have as been as consistent as the amazing Beatles, but did have a stretch of years where they competed favorably to the English band.

 

One no-brainer rival are the Beach Boys.  While much of their early music consisted of surf rock, Brian Wilson’s artistic desire to reach higher levels in the band’s music propelled the Beach boys to release a few albums that competed with The Beatles.  These included “Pet Sounds” and even the unfinished “Smiley Smile.”  Unfortunately I never enjoyed these two albums like many other people, however I do realize the significance and influence these pieces of art had in the mid to late 60s.  

 

Another American band that rivaled the Beatles are more of a duo than an actual band.  Simon & Garfunkel is a perennial favorite of many 60s music fans.  With their breathtaking harmonies and solid lyrics, they proved that a band (or duo) can be popular without trying to “rock hard.”  It is amazing to me that with only 2 people, this duo rivaled the harmonies of the Beach Boys, and even the Beatles.  Simon & Garfunkel only released five albums, but “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme,” (what an album name!), and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” proved this duo is one of the greatest acts of the 1960s.

 

The third band that rivaled the Beatles are the Doors.  This band was known for their amazing keyboard playing by Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison’s vocals, and his poetic and controversial lyrics.  The Doors released several albums, and three of them are ranked in Rolling Stones top 500 albums.  While the Doors are better known for the many controversies their lead singer was in, they created a unique blend of music that was truly American.  Mixing jazz, blues, pop and rock and roll, made this band stand out in the 1960s.  Plus it did not hurt that Jim Morrison was considered a “sex idol” too many of the women at that time.  While some of the Doors songs can become a little too “strange” (especially the 7+ minute heavily poetic ones), it’s hard deny the Doors as one of the best rivals to the Beatles.  Songs like “Light My Fire” and “Love Her Madly” proved this band can rock as hard as their British counterparts.  One final interesting note about the Doors is that for several albums, they never had a bass player!

 

The next band that I chose that rivaled the Beatles are Crosby Stills and Nash (personally one of my favorites).  Better known as “CSN” (also CSNY when Neil Young joined them), directly competed with the Beatles during the late 60s.  While the Beatles where ending t heir career at this time, CSN released their first albums.  CSN was a super group by having members from the Hollies, Buffalo Springfield, and the Byrds.  Although they aren’t fully American, their style of music is.  Similar to Simon & Garfunkel they only released a few albums, but they competed well with the Beatles in both sales and artistic talents.  At one time, especially during 1968-1969, CSN was the Beatle’s biggest rival.  CSN’s intricate harmonies and heavily political themed music places them as an American favorite from the 1960s.  Once Neil Young added the “Y” to the band, CSNY reached their peak with their album “Déjà Vu.”

 

The next band I choose that rivaled the Beatles, are fairly unknown outside California.  The band “Love” entered the music scene at the same time as The Doors, but sadly never had the success like Jim Morrison and company.  The reason for lack of success was not due to their talent, but Arthur Lee’s (lead singer of Love) decision to not promote their music outside California).  If you want to talk about a band with constant changes, “Love” is your band.  Despite numerous lineup changes (only Arthur Lee stayed in the band for their entire career), this band created one of the most underappreciated music of all time.  Playing numerous genres like folk, rock and roll, garage rock, and psychedelic, Love always brought something new to each album.  With the release of their psychedelic album “Forever Changes,” the album rivaled Beatles “Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  It is a shame this band is not well known, but Arthur Lee is considered one of the top tier artists of the 60s by many music critics.  Fortunately, YouTube has the entire “Forever Changes” album, and gives people the opportunity to experience one of the best albums to come out of the 1960s.  I am not ashamed to say it, “I Love…Love”

 

The last band that I chose that rivaled the Beatles in the 60s is my personal favorite.  Creedence Clearwater Rival (or CCR) is the best American rival to the Beatles.  They came out around the mid 1960s, and hit the American airwaves by storm.  With John Fogerty at the helm of the band, this band released music that blended country, rock and roll, and blues.  Their style was so unique, that critics many times named their style “swamp rock.”  Despite this band coming from California, CCR sounded more like a Southern American rock band.  One especially unique characteristic of this band was that while bands like The Beatles where experimenting with new techniques and styles in psychedelic music, CCR always stayed with their roots and played “good ole American rock and roll” With albums like “Bayou Country” and “Willie and the Poor Boys,” this band came out with hit after hit between 1968-1969, and their success continued in the early 1970s. John Fogerty’s guitar playing is second to none, and his lyrics with “Americana” and political themes make CCR the greatest American rival to the Beatles.

 

Due to time constraints (and I am sure your tired of reading this long blog) I had to cut some bands I wanted to write about.  These include “Grateful Dead,” “Hendrix Experience,” Bob Dylan, “Sly and the Family Stone,” and much more.  Maybe one day I will make a second part to this blog.

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Comment by Sadie on February 4, 2012 at 3:23pm

Thanks for sharing that link, Beatle Girl. I never really understood the whole rival of Beatles vs. Stones thing. I love both bands, my favorite band is actually a tie between The Beatles and The Who. My second favorite band is The Rolling Stones and my third is The Doors. To me nobody rivals The Beatles though, but alot come close. :]

Comment by Annalina Lennon McCartney on February 3, 2012 at 10:10pm

Here's an interesting article/video I found!

Keith Richards explains how the feud between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones was actually quite the opposite:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/celebritology/post/keith-richar...

Comment by BeatleBob on July 26, 2011 at 10:33am

I agree Sadie! :-D

 

JP, I got what this Blog was all about! Yes, the American bands kept to their American roots rock style. And a lot of them indeed had a heavy political theme to their music to reflect the times! And yes, I agree both the American and British bands had their own distinctive style. And both groups contributed so much Fantastic music! Thanks again for the informative and interesting Blog!

Comment by John Paul on July 25, 2011 at 7:54pm

Obviously, the Beatles don't have a close rival.  However, like i mentioned, i think some 60s bands have either one or two years where they competed with The Beatles fairly well both artistically and in popularity.  They were not as consistent as the Fab Four, but should be acknowledged.  

 

I do like to separate the "American" bands from the "British bands" (not because i am racist or anything).  I believe most groups for the most part had their own distinctive style.  While many of the British bands in the 60s where focusing on experimenting (which eventually led to progressive rock in the 70s), the American bands kept their "American" or "roots rock" style. American bands also have a heavy political theme to their music, especially with USA's involvement in the Vietnam War at that time. At the end, both groups contributed so much great music, no matter what kind of style they portrayed their music.

Comment by Sadie on July 25, 2011 at 3:38pm
I could make a list and description of 60s music, both British and American, 10 times longer than this. LOL. The Sixties is my favorite time for music, I also like alot of 70s too. I like some songs by all of the people mentioned by JP, BeatleGirl, and Beatlebob, but I can't say there is any rival to The Beatles ever. Although I admit there are some that come close. They are still above all to me.
Comment by BeatleBob on July 25, 2011 at 10:38am

Thanks Beatle Girl! I also liked your addition to this blog too! And would enjoy to see a second part of this blog!

 

And I agree, there will be No Rival for the Beatles for me as well! I Really Enjoyed a lot of bands and solo artists from both the U.S. and England over the years. But, no other band or solo artist can Rival the Beatles for me! 

 

I enjoyed the Beach Boys very much over the years! With "God Only Knows" this song touched me from day one! It's a beautiful song! And Brian's brother Carl, who did the lead vocal sounded so beautiful! Carl's voice really shines here. I myself had been obsessed with this song too! Always sent chills down my spine every time I listen to this song! And yes, I consider Brian a musical genius as well. Even though he was tone deaf in one ear his lyrics, melodies, arranging, and a bit later on production of the Beach Boys songs were incredible! 

 

Bob Dylan's song writing and poetic abilities were pure magic! He truly reflected the times and touched so many people and inspired so many musicians! And when he went electric he could really Rock too! So many great songs! He inspired John as well as the other Beatles around the time of Revolver to enhance their music further in many ways.

 

I agree with what you said about Simon & Garfunkel! I couldn't have said it any better. You were Spot On about them!

 

I couldn't agree more with you about I'd rather listen to any band/duo/artists from the 60's and 70's than what we get with today's music!! And agree with the rest of the things you mentioned here!!

 

I Enjoyed your addition to this blog! :-D

Comment by Annalina Lennon McCartney on July 24, 2011 at 4:41pm

I read the whole thing, too! Good blog JP :-)

 

I'd like to say...

Even though I have given all these bands/duo a listen, there will be no "rival" for the Beatles for me. The closest band that I've even almost enjoyed as much as The Beatles are the Beach Boys. Even then, I haven't listened to all the Beach Boys albums, nor do I own any album of the bands listed here. (Mostly because I don't have the money to spend, and I'm too busy on the Beatles.)

 

Bob Dylan comes next for the artist I'm most interested in. People scuff him off as some junkie who wrote poems and sounds like ass and doesn't even sound like himself anymore. I truly admire his songwriting/poetic abilities, and that does't stop me from complimenting his musicianship.

 

About Beach Boys' "God Only Knows". I read that Paul said that this song was his favorite love song. I read it on a page on SongFacts.com. It must be a favorite of people, because I, myself, had been obsessed with this song -- would play it for hours. I'd even cry with some Beach Boys songs because of how sentimental and sweet and just so pure their songs are. Brian Wilson is, in my spectrum, one of the "geniuses". Even other artists who would usually mention Lennon or McCartney as their idols, would next, mention Brian Wilson as one of the greats.

 

Simon & Garfunkel would next come to touch me on a musical/emotional level. Their soothing, soft melodies and deep-in-thought lyrics can easily touch my heart almost immediately.

 

Not meaning to disregard the other bands listed here, so I'll come to say that I'd rather listen to any band/duo/artists from the 60s or 70s or 50s instead of the songs we get today. Not saying that no one today is as talented anymore -- it's just that the music that the media feeds us just doesn't do it for me.

 

There are bands from England too that I admire more or less as their American counterparts.

 

I also like music from other decades, too. Man, everything back then was just better!

 

If I drifted off from the "American rivals to the Beatles" topic it's just that I don't see the difference whether they were American or what. All these artists were talented and gave us really great music. The Beatles had almost, all, American influences. And they sounded 'American' when they sang, too, Lol!

 

For seeing anyone in concert, I have seen Brian Wilson before and I'd like to see Bob Dylan. Would definitely also try to see S&G.. S or G, whichever :-) 

But if given a choice, I'd see Paul McCartney over any artist or band or duo! I'm sure they would too. LOL

 

I agree with Beatle Bob - definitely do a second part. Would like to know your thoughts on the other bands! I also like Beatle Bob's addition to this blog. Great info & response!

Comment by BeatleBob on July 24, 2011 at 12:38pm

I Really Enjoyed this Blog! Very Good Read! I'll have to check out Youtube on "Love". I don't remember them. But, listening to them on Youtube, I might?

Talking about the Beach Boys:

Brian Wilson's "home demo" of Surf's Up. Listen to his voice here! It sends chills down my spine!

http://youtu.be/3tPs5f3kkFY

Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys had some Great songs!

"God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations" were Fantastic Songs! Paul McCartney once said "God Only Knows" was his Favorite Song. And Paul played the "Pet Sounds" album over and over again for the other Beatles. Inspired Paul to make Sgt. Pepper! Paul and Brian Wilson became very good friends. 

The Doors were Incredible! Ray Manzarek was a wizard on the keyboards and the Base in most of their songs was Ray using the pedals. Robbie Krieger played fantastic Slide on a lot of their songs. John Densmore always tried to incorporate a jazz or a latin beat to their songs. And of course Jim! His voice, looks, and lyrics were always at the forefront! A poet!

Some Great Songs I enjoyed were Break On Through, Soul Kitchen, Light My Fire, Back Door Man, The End, Love Me Two Times, When The Music's Over, Five To One, Wild Child, Road House Blues, The WASP "Texas Radio and the Big Beat". The were so many others! One of my Favorite Bands!

Simon & Garfunkel were Fantastic song writers with Great harmonies! Simon & Garfunkel songs I Loved: America, The Boxer, "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)", A Hazy Shade of Winter, Homeward Bound, Kathy's Song, Scarborough Fair, The Sound of Silence, and so many more! Loved them!

CSN&Y: Four Way Street and Deja Vu were my Favorite Albums from them. Some of my Favorite songs from CSN and CSN&Y were: Woodstock, Long Time Gone, Wooden Ships, Suite Judy Blue Eyes, Carry On, Ohio, Almost Cut My Hair, Find The Cost Of Freedom, Guinnevere, Southern Man, and so many more! Their harmonies were Great, and their songs surely Reflected The Times! 

CCR: Some of my favorite songs: Fortunate Son, Who'll Stop The Rain, Born On The Bayou, Lodi, Suzie Q, I Put A Spell On You, Long As I Can See The Light, Up Around The Bend, and many more! John Fogerty had a Great Voice and with their hard driving songs through their blend of country, blues, and rock, made them a Great Band! 

..You mentioned Jimi Hendrix at the end. I was lucky enough to see Jimi with his Band of Gypsies Live at the Filmore East on New Years Eve 1969-70. My older cousin turned me on to the Fillmore east in 1969. Some Great songs from that concert were: Machine Gun, Power of Soul, Message of Love, Them Changes, Hear My Train A Comin, Foxy lady, and some other great songs! Also seen Van Morrison, Dr. John, and The Vanilla Fudge at the Fillmore in 1969.

There was no other like Jimi when it came to Guitar! Some might have come close at times like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and some others. But Jimi was the Best and will always be! "Sorry for getting off subject here"! 

If you do a Second Part to this blog some other Great bands from the 60's: The Band, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Janis Joplin/Big Brother & Holding Company, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Mamas & The Papas, Jefferson Airplane, Buffalo Springfield, The Turtles, Santana, and so many more! Great Blog! Thanks!


 

 


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