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Popular Music

'Pop' songs are pieces of music which have popular appeal.

At the start of the 1960s, Harry Webb (using the stage name Cliff Richard) was a popular singer along with his backing group The Shadows. He was marketed as being the British equivalent to Elvis Presley.

Sir Cliff Richard Allan Warren

The Beatles were a band consisting of: John Lennon (rhythm guitar, keyboards), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, keyboards), George Harrison (lead guitar, sitar) and Ringo Starr (drums, percussion). They leapt to fame in 1963 with the song 'Please, Please Me' and soon became so popular that they would be attacked by screaming fans everywhere they went around the world - an effect which became known as 'Beatlemania'. Almost all of their music was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. By the time they broke up in 1970 due to the pressures of fame and each member wanting to become more independent in their music, they had produced 11 number-one original albums in Britain including 'A Hard Day's Night', 'Yellow Submarine' and 'Help!'.

The Beatles in America

After the success of The Beatles, 'beat music' or 'Merseybeat' (for bands from Liverpool beside the River Mersey) began to grow in popularity and a number of other groups were able to follow them into the charts, such as: Gerry and The Pacemakers and The SearchersBeat groups often had simple guitar-dominated line-ups, with vocal harmonies and catchy tunes.

The music programme Top of the Pops was first broadcast on television on New Year's Day 1964. Its early episodes were shot live in Manchester in a converted church, with its first edition being presented by Jimmy Savile and featuring: The Rolling StonesDusty SpringfieldThe Dave Clark FiveThe Hollies and The Beatles. Initially acts performing on the show would mime to their songs, but this was banned in July 1966 when production moved to London.

Peace-loving, young people who wanted to look to the future enjoyed listening to 'hippie' music during the 1960s and made summer pilgrimages in camper vans to free music festivals at places like Stonehenge. 

Woodstock redmond hair

Most music would be sold on LPs (large plastic discs which would be played on a turntable). 


Radio also expanded in the 1960s to provide another medium for popular music, with BBC Radio 1 launching in 1967. This led to the rise of DJs (Disk Jockeys) who would select music to play to their audiences.