Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Mr. Hardgroove

Are The Beatles The Greatest Rock Band Ever?...Or Were They?

Recommended Posts

Hello All.

On April 17, 2013 I hosted an event at the Gibson Showroom in Beverley Hills the week Public Enemy was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. One event was a panel discussion with four accomplished friends of mine. (https://www.facebook.com/TheHardgrooveExperience?fref=ts)

 

Dug Pinnick

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Pinnick

Eddie Kramer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Kramer

Chuck D

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_D

Jack Douglas

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Douglas_%28record_producer%29

 

I convened this panel to talk about the origins of “Rock & Roll” and how it has come to be defined.

 

In the weeks leading up to the induction ceremony, many in the press and public aired very harsh and consistently uninformed opinions about what Rock & Roll is and who should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. It was often cited that The Beatles are the greatest rock band of all time. There are many people that would dispute that if it weren’t so politically incorrect to do so. Thoughts?

 

Here are three variations of the word ‘great’

 

Great

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/great

 

Greater

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/greater

 

Greatest

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/greatest

 

Event Press Release

http://archive.gibson.com/absolutenm/templates/FeatureTemplatePressRelease.aspx?articleid=1367&zoneid=6

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ask 10 people and you'll get 10 opinions as to who is the greatest. It's too subjective. You'll get a flame war going with this thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Chordptrn.

 

Given framing of the question plus the links provided,

I’d expect a reasoned serious of comments and questions. Flame wars are easily extinguished. Do you have an opinion? I’d like to hear it.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like to add my list :

 

Ozzy's First two albums

Black Sabbath

Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Metallica

Pantera

Blue Cheer

UFO

Paul McCartney and Wings

Jim Croce

George Harrison

Older U2

The Police

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me "Rock and Roll" and "Rock" are not really the same thing. The terms are used interchangeably by lots of folks and I get why. Things evolve over time. The best way I know to explain it is the same reason why I wouldn't argue against the Beatles being the greatest Rock band (unless I just felt like getting into it with somebody ;) ). They started out as Rock and Roll, but as things got more complex musically and albums took on more importance, they transformed into a Rock band in the public eye.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rock has become a rather generic term in some ways.

 

On one hand, you can argue that early Beatles songs were definitely "rock and roll", and some of their later material was probably "rock", but they worked in many other genres besides "rock" or "rock and roll", so that kind of muddies the waters a bit as far as whether they were a "rock" band. Still, I think it's cool that they were able to do so, because it opened "rock music" to all sorts of outside influences and stylistic diversity that really wasn't that prevalent prior to their success. IMO, without the Beatles, we never would have had someone like say, The Police, who combined Rock and Reggae.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find this fascinating and very informative. More definitions are in order and I'll look to you guys for them.

Define the "rock" aspect of rock & roll.

Define the "roll" aspect of rock & roll.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Beatles were very very good at what they did. They also had a level of support from the big money record machine that the rest of us can only dream of.

 

Personally, when I perform I don't care if I am better than anyone else. I only want to be the best that I can be at any given moment in whatever situation I am in.

 

Let's just be grateful The Beatles were able to reach such a high level in their music but what does it matter if they were the best or the next best or even number nine on somebody's list?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by onelife
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would argue that The Beatles simply occupy a singular genre you could only label as "The Beatles". Sometimes they Rocked, sometimes They Rolled, sometimes they Rocked and Rolled. But in the end, they were "The Beatles".

I do not believe they could be truthfully pigeon-holed in to any specfic genre.

I cannot be convinced otherwise.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IMO, without the Beatles, we never would have had someone like say, The Police, who combined Rock and Reggae.

 

 

 

not sure if it's true, and it's post-Beatles, but I read once that Paul McCartney & Wings' "C Moon" (1972) was the first instance of a rock band doing reggae.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To me "Rock and Roll" and "Rock" are not really the same thing. The terms are used interchangeably by lots of folks and I get why. Things evolve over time. The best way I know to explain it is the same reason why I wouldn't argue against the Beatles being the greatest Rock band (unless I just felt like getting into it with somebody ;) ). They started out as Rock and Roll, but as things got more complex musically and albums took on more importance, they transformed into a Rock band in the public eye.

 

The way they evolved from being a "Boy Band" for the teeny boppers to becoming serious composers and pushing the listeners mind into new sonic possibilities , is awe inspiring.

If you listen to " Helter Skelter ", the guitar is very early Hard Rock / Heavy Metal and the vocals almost punk like. The White album pointed our ears towards the future, as did Hendrix, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Yes, E.L.P. and others later. "Yer Blues", has to be one of the raunchiest Blues tunes ever. That album took you through different forms of music and you liked it.

From Rubber Soul to Abbey Road, they evolved and changed into a totally different band.

Today, the industry won't let a band of today, reinvent themselves or experiment or maybe the listeners of today are not as opened minded as before.

To me , the Beatles can easily be called the Greatest Rock band ever !!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you have to take it in context of what was happening at that time.

 

You only real way you could do that is by having lived during those years. Younger people probably wont understand the impact the band had on the entire industry because they live in the aftermath and view those changes as a norm.

 

Prior to the Beatles bands normally had one leading star. Elvis and his no name band. Sinatra with his hired help, etc. You had one guy who was seen as a star and the rest backed him. There were some 50's bands that were more group like but they were mostly dance bands.

 

Buddy Holly had a trio and the other players were sort of equals in the beginning, but even there, Buddy migrated to a full orchestra of no names. Not that this was a bad thing for the artists wallet, but people weren't crushed by that breakup like they were when the Beatles broke up.

 

The Beatles are properly recognized as a band that changed the whole landscape of pop music. It was no longer a master/slave thing it was a multiple entity, a team of musicians that were billed as 4 stars, not one. You'd always hear them listed as John, Paul, George, and Ringo. People Knew all four names.

 

Even with the popularity of someone like Elvis, Could you list the other artists in the band? I know I cant. Many times they aren't even listed on albums, but a Beatles album had all 4. People, especially young girls had their favorites. I grew up with sisters and I lived through the whole young girl crush thing they had on pop stars. Its funny because you get a group of girls together and one would pick Paul, another John, etc. The least experienced chick in the group got stuck with Ringo.

 

This was all new back then. There was the Sinatra and Elvis craze before it which were singular idols. Having a band where all the artists had their own fan clubs was a huge thing for the record companies. After that, it became a role model for ever other rock/pop band to follow.

 

Sure you had bands in the 40's consisting of the best jazz players, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, etc getting together and making albums, but its not the same. That was a different music industry that was run from the top down. You had conductors/producers/money men at the tops of those bands. It was more factory production and the artists spend much of their life as hired help. All that evolved during the 50's because WWII was over and clubs hired much smaller bands for much lower wages.

 

The other part was the Beatles gave the reporters a thrill up their legs. The band was at the center of the musical universe where all other bands revolved around them for a good period of time. These guys were what you'd call veterans by the time they became popular. They knew the hard core realities from working clubs in Germany, Drugs and Prostitutes and though they dressed up like young virgins they where in reality very street wise and you can hear that by the witty remarks they'd reply back to. They were on the inside and the press were like old fogies in comparison. They weren't rude however. Even older people liked them because they could appreciate the good talent.

 

The press loved them and so did the kids. Their original music isn't bad either. Again, If you look at the charts and see what their competition was back then its obvious to anyone why they held the top chart slots for so long. The Sargent Peppers album knocked the socks off of every producer back then. Many of the bands like the Beach Boys or the Mama's and Papas, Kijnks, Stones were still playing catch up and that album was like a bomb going off in pop music.

 

Add to that many of the bands had good musicians but they didn't have the photogenics or the hit singles to compete. The Beatles did have great voices and harmonies too which is the whole key to their success. Heck it was sacrilege for other bands to even play cover tunes of their music because they all knew the people would compare and reject them. A few people could pull it off like Joe Cocker doing Little Help From My Friends, but that version was so different it could be seen as a different song.

 

All of these things combined made them a the huge "super group" before that term was even coined.

 

When you compare the press coverage to a band like the Rolling Stones, the only real spokesman you had in that band was Mick. The rest pretty much mumbled. The band surely has a huge repertoire of music but they pretty much followed the Elvis role model in the beginning. Have you ever heard the drummer speak? I think I heard him talk once in Gimmie Shelter and he wasn't very coherent. Compared to Ringo who had roles in movies? I know Mick played catch up and had some good roles later but the early stuff just wasn't very photogenic.

 

When Brian Jones split, the band did get very paranoid too because Brian was as if not more popular then Jaggar back then. If he had stayed in the band it may have been a very different thing as far as shared group identity, but as is that wasn't to be.

 

They're just different acts and its just not possible to measure them with the same ruler.

Edited by WRGKMC
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I find this fascinating and very informative. More definitions are in order and I'll look to you guys for them.

Define the "rock" aspect of rock & roll.

Define the "roll" aspect of rock & roll.

 

 

I'm not sure if I can... :idk:

 

To me, when someone says "Rock & Roll", I tend to think of the 50s - Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Sun Session-era Elvis, Little Richard - that sort of stuff.

 

Rock is a more generic term. When someone says "Rock", it tends to make me think of slightly heavier music from a later era, although there's a less focused character to it - it covers a lot more stylistic diversity, at least in my mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I'm not sure if I can... idk.gif

 

To me, when someone says "Rock & Roll", I tend to think of the 50s - Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Sun Session-era Elvis, Little Richard - that sort of stuff.

 

Rock is a more generic term. When someone says "Rock", it tends to make me think of slightly heavier music from a later era, although there's a less focused character to it - it covers a lot more stylistic diversity, at least in my mind.

 

Pow! Phil has hit the nail on the head.

This has been the underlying problem with the whole perceived premise of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

See the following description on their website under “The Story of Rock”.

http://rockhall.com/story-of-rock/

 

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum exists to collect, preserve and interpret the impact rock has made on our world. The evolving story of rock can be found on the Rock Hall's blog and feature pages, in addition to videos and galleries that capture the moments that matter in rock and roll. Here you'll find rock and roll news, artist interviews, performance notes, the latest event and exhibit happenings, and more. Consider this your backstage pass.”

 

Assuming Phil’s interpretation is reasonable (which I personally think most knowledgeable popular music fans would agree with), the Rock Hall itself intentionally makes the terms “rock” and “rock and roll” interchangeable. Why would they do this? Well, the answer isn’t hard to find once you put yourself in their place. Rock and Roll is universally acknowledged as a uniquely American invention, with it’s roots and contributors coming from multiple segments of American society. By the time the Rock Hall held it’s first induction ceremony in 1986, the argument was already raging as to what is rock and what isn’t. The basis of the disagreement was largely (though not exclusively) draw along racial lines. The Rock Hall knew that the limited, racially based and frankly incorrect description of Rock & Roll would leave them with very little to celebrate. So they wisely inducted Sam Cooke and Ray Charles in the very first year. Looking at this first set of inductions (rightly or wrongly) opens the door for the Hall to justify practically any artist they wanted or needed to moving forward.

http://rockhall.com/inductees/ceremonies/1986/

 

Now, there’s a boatload to cover and that will come in time.

But the overarching point that I’d like to make is this; the early days of

“Race music”, represented a serious threat to many of the social norms of the day once it started to influence mainstream music. It was a tide that was impossible to stem, even with the most fervent calls from the pulpits of America to resist the “devil’s music”. When non-black performers began

making product embodying the sounds and passions of “race music”,

it certainly had to be referred to as something else. Hence the term that we discuss endlessly today.

 

Simply put, “Rock and Roll” as a phrase (although innocently hidden behind the guise of music) represented an affront to the societal norms of the day. With all the issues I could point out about the Rock Hall (having dealt with it directly with Public Enemy), they do understand the point I just made, even if those that decry PE’s induction don’t.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The premise of "greatest" (or any other description) band is a premise fraught with problems. I taught my kids not to describe artistic works in terms of relative comparison with other works. You may prefer one work over another. Why? For all sorts of reasons that matter to you. Do those reasons find universal acceptance? Of course not. Some may look at longevity, some at record sales, some gross income, some concert attendance, some number of #1 hits (on who's chart?) and so on ad infinitum.

 

So if the very standard of comparison can't be agreed upon, how can anyone hope to agree on who tops the lists? And even if these extremely subjective criteria were all magically to fall in line and one band is deemed The Greatest Ever.....so what? That and six bucks'll get you a vente double-pump at Starbucks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It has been said that Success comes when the roads of preparedness and opportunity intersect. I would venture to say that the Beatles were very fortunate to be one of those rare 1000 year events that we may never see again in our lifetimes. I've heard better bands for sure, but there can be no denying the pivotal influence they had on music, record sales, radio sales, and the music instrument industry.

 

I point this out in an article I wrote about the impact the Beatles Ed Sullivan appearance had on the Ludwig Drum Company: http://www.harmonycentral.com/articles/the-ludwig-drum-company-one-small-script-logo--one-huge-result

 

Virtually changed that company forever.

 

D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The premise of "greatest" (or any other description) band is a premise fraught with problems. I taught my kids not to describe artistic works in terms of relative comparison with other works. You may prefer one work over another. Why? For all sorts of reasons that matter to you. Do those reasons find universal acceptance? Of course not. Some may look at longevity, some at record sales, some gross income, some concert attendance, some number of #1 hits (on who's chart?) and so on ad infinitum.

 

So if the very standard of comparison can't be agreed upon, how can anyone hope to agree on who tops the lists? And even if these extremely subjective criteria were all magically to fall in line and one band is deemed The Greatest Ever.....so what? That and six bucks'll get you a vente double-pump at Starbucks.

 

Hello Craig.

Good and reasoned thoughts. In a perfect world, the discussion of great, greater and greatest (regarding art) wouldn't get much traction

for the very reasons you've so eloquently pointed out. That said, given the fact that our culture (not limited to the U.S.) has yet to reach that stage of perfection, the question of motivation becomes very important. That is ultimately what this post shines a light on and that is it's purpose.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Hello Craig.

Good and reasoned thoughts. In a perfect world, the discussion of great, greater and greatest (regarding art) wouldn't get much traction

for the very reasons you've so eloquently pointed out. That said, given the fact that our culture (not limited to the U.S.) has yet to reach that stage of perfection, the question of motivation becomes very important. That is ultimately what this post shines a light on and that is it's purpose.

 

I wasn't trying to quash the discussion, in case that was your thought. Perfection? Hardly...more like we haven't made an effort to be alike...which is awesome. But when "greatest" and "music" meet, we're in for battles.

 

Having said all that, regarding the Beatles; a simply amazing band that said the right thing the right way at the right time. Their downfall was their success, which had to be too much for any band, let alone individual, to deal with. Had they enjoyed (?) a longer run, what would they have done? I wonder whether they would have put out disappointments that would be remembered right along with their giant hits, and brought them back among mere mortals. Or maybe we would have seen genius even more singular.

 

Whether they are or aren't, they're certainly like Babe Ruth...always brought up in discussions of greatness. Which perhaps is the criteria we seek for our judgments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I wasn't trying to quash the discussion, in case that was your thought. Perfection? Hardly...more like we haven't made an effort to be alike...which is awesome. But when "greatest" and "music" meet, we're in for battles.

 

Having said all that, regarding the Beatles; a simply amazing band that said the right thing the right way at the right time. Their downfall was their success, which had to be too much for any band, let alone individual, to deal with. Had they enjoyed (?) a longer run, what would they have done? I wonder whether they would have put out disappointments that would be remembered right along with their giant hits, and brought them back among mere mortals. Or maybe we would have seen genius even more singular.

 

Whether they are or aren't, they're certainly like Babe Ruth...always brought up in discussions of greatness. Which perhaps is the criteria we seek for our judgments.

 

I don't see your response as an attempt to quash the conversation. I see it as good and reasoned thought. As with Ruth vs Aaron vs fill in the blank......motivation is the key and remains the focus of my investigation.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Beatles included Paul McCartney who, in my opinion, is a pop music genius. Not only could he use his gift of melody to write infectious pop tunes, he could sing lead and harmonies that embellished the songs of his bandmates as well as those of his own. Add to that, his ability to play piano, guitar, drums and, most notably, bass in a most creative manor.

 

I belive McCarney's lot in life was to bring the songs of John Lennon and George Harrison to the masses. I think all of the Beatles played equally important roles in the band but it was McCartney's contributions that made them instantly popular.

 

I usually bought the albums because of the catchy tunes I heard on the radio but in between Paul's tunes were the sometimes weird (or at leas I thought so at the time) tunes by John and some contemplative and beautiful songs by George. I listened to them all and grew to love the music of John Lennon and especially George Harrison - even after the band broke up.

 

Ringo is not to be underestimated in what he brought to the band. I'm sure everyone here can appreciate what it is like to play with a good solid drummer who can really lay it down.

 

Let's not forget the influence of one of the only people who could live up to the "bigger than Elvis" promises and a producer that could… well, you know what I'm getting at.

 

The bottom line is that they created a lot of good music and a lot of people got to hear it - it doesn't really mater if they were the greatest. They wrote songs the world will sing for a long long long time.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by onelife
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

"Hope I die before I get old." The Who were a group with awesome power when they burst on the scene, and maintained it well. I can't blame them for soldiering on but after Keith Moon died, it wasn't the Who any more. That doesn't diminish what they did at the time, but what's the last Who song you remember?

 

Pink Floyd is another interesting case. I think I've played "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" more than any other recording. The level of creativity was off the hook. Granted, their biggest successes came later...but it was a version 2.0 Pink Floyd. There was nothing ever like version 1.0, and there has been nothing like it since.

 

RIP, Syd Barrett.

 

The "woulda shoulda coulda" factor in rock music is huge. There are so many bands that lost players or broke up at what we (selfishly?)consider to be premature times. As a bassist I'm mourning Chris Squire's recent passing, even at his relatively advanced age. But my "true inspiration" to play bass guitar was Dee Murray of Elton John's band. He had that knack for the perfect groove to every song. That's what McCartney has in spades as well, though I wasn't a fan of the Beatles until relatively late in the game. But Dee Murray passed quite young, and I often wonder if he would have received a bit more recognition than he did.

Edited by Craig Vecchione
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of people put down Ringo as a "simpleton" drummer (which IMHO is not a bad thing), but I attended a clinic put on by my good pal Gregg Bissonette where he broke down the grooves Ringo played in an audio and visual presentation, and to everyone's surprise what he played and how he played it was quite significant and complicated. It just amazingly came across as a simple groove.

Gregg further showed examples of other songs that were influenced by the grooves Ringo played. It changed my entire perspective on his influence on drums and drumming. (Not to mention what I referenced above about how it affected Ludwig.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...