「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


The Beatles in Japan

By Kip A. Cates


This year marks a key date in music history — the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' 1966 concert tour of Japan. Everyone knows the Beatles, the British band that burst onto the scene in the 1960s, captivated a generation and began a cultural revolution. The group consisted of four young men — John, Paul, George and Ringo — who developed their unique sound in the working-class city of Liverpool, then took it global to fans around the world.

I still remember their American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. I was 11 years old. My family had gathered in front of the TV to see this new band that everyone was talking about. Suddenly, there they were: four young guys with strange accents, long hair, electric guitars and an amazing sound. My brother, my sisters and I were instantly captivated.

Not my father! He took one look and knew instinctively that these long-haired singers with their evil rock 'n' roll were an existential danger to his innocent young children. He quickly turned off the TV! Of course, it was too late. The disapproval of my parents' generation only added to the Beatles' appeal.

Beatlemania came to Japan on June 29, 1966, when the Beatles flew into Tokyo for a whirlwind three-day tour. The authorities had taken strict countermeasures to control fan hysteria. An amazing 35,000 police were called out, including 3,000 guards stationed indoors at the band's first concert.

Their debut was at Tokyo's Budokan, the spiritual home of Japan's traditional martial arts. The decision to allow Western singers to hold a pop concert in this holy place led to angry protests by nationalists, including death threats and shouts of "Beatles, go home!" Several schools threatened to expel any students who attended. It was no use.

Thousands of Japanese fans, mostly teenage girls, thronged their concerts to get a glimpse of the Fab Four. Teenage boys across the nation picked up guitars, grew their hair long and began their own rock 'n' roll groups. Japan would never be the same.

Every generation strives to create its own slang, music and fashion. For those of us who came of age in the 1960s, the Beatles provided the soundtrack for the rest of our lives. There was something electrifying in their music, their style and their enthusiasm that spoke to teenagers worldwide in a language only young people could understand.

Looking back, it's ironic how the "dangerous" Beatles songs that our parents warned us about have now become background music for offices, elevators and shopping malls. It's hard to understand how the innocent themes that the Beatles first sang about — love, kissing, holding hands — led to a moral panic.

Are the Beatles still relevant today? Do their songs still have value? Should young people listen to their music? The only answer I can give to these three questions is: "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!"



The Japan Times ST: June 10, 2016

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版