The Beatles and the Psychedelic Era

The four-man band the Beatles performing on stage.
Paul McCartny, George Harrison and John Lennon.
The bedroom of a young Beatles fan.
Loyal fans waiting for the Beatles to arrive.
John Lennon.
A photo of drummer Ringo Starr taken in later years.

Britain of the 1960s was a country in transition. Around this time, Gunboat Britain was turning into Swinging Britain, as focus shifted from empire and conservatism to daring new music and fashion. The 1960s, too, played host to a movement connected to sexual liberation, drug use and political awareness, often associated with psychedelia, flower-power and hippies. A wave of cultural revolution was sweeping across Britain — and a popular four-man boy band from Liverpool was there to ride it.

Extremely popular

Embodying much of the new 1960s sentiments, the four-man Liverpudlian boy band, calling themselves the Beatles, were as perfect for their era as their era was for them. Using their extreme music talent to write, produce and perform pop and rock music fitting for the decade, for about ten years, they released so many hit songs that people still talk about them as the most successful group of all times. The Beatles, consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, had fans obsessed, and ecstatic young women often screamed so loud at their concerts that people who had come to listen couldn’t hear the band sing.

Their large impact on female teenagers notwithstanding, the Beatles’ great success has been attributed to them being popular among almost everybody. A key to this broad likability, as drummer Ringo Starr explains it, was that the four band members all attracted different categories of fans. According to Starr, Paul McCartney’s primary fan-base was teenage girls, John Lennon appealed to intellectual college students, George Harrison was favored by mystics, and he himself was liked by moms and kids. Another key to the Beatles’ broad appeal, as recognized by critics, was the fact that they offered something for everybody by mixing genres and singing both fast and slow songs.

A song inspired by drugs

Mixing the aforementioned fast and slow beats on the same track, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds became the Beatles’ arguably most controversial song. The controversy, however, was not because of the difference in beats, but because the title of the song contained the letters L-S-D, seemingly hinting at a popular psychedelic drug of that name. Questioned at the time about the narcotics connection, John Lennon said that the acronym was pure coincidence, but Paul McCartney, in a much later interview, admitted that the song was in fact inspired by the drug LSD.

Going their separate ways

A few years after the release of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds — though unrelated to the LSD hype — in the early 1970s, the Beatles stopped playing together as a band. The four former group members, instead, began to pursue solo careers of various forms, with John Lennon, for example, combining peace activism with music production. Tragically though, Lennon, a somewhat insubordinate proponent of love, was murdered in 1980. The perpetrator, in a later interview, said that he couldn’t stand being a nobody, and that he thought he would become famous by killing the famous John Lennon.