The Beatles Have Come
The Beatles had significant influence on the birth and growth of China’s rock music in the 1980s and 1990s.
On March 22, 2018, all albums by The Beatles, the most influential and successful British band of all time, were released in China in digital form, available on the country’s major online music platforms. At the same time, their final album Abbeyroad went on sale in physical shops in China, which will be followed by many others. Abbey Road sold over 20,000 copies on one digital platform in a single day.
The exhibition titled “The Beatles, Tomorrow” has been on display at the Today Art Museum in Beijing since March 24. The exhibition features classic music as well as hundreds of precious photos, videos, memorabilia and personal items once owned by members of the band.
Formed in the early 1960s, The Beatles exerted direct influence on the evolution of rock music in the 1960s and later. The band was also tremendously influential on the birth and growth of China’s rock music in the 1980s and 1990s.
Cao Jun was once guitarist for the Chinese band The Breathing. His experience absorbing The Beatles speaks volumes. In 1980, he chanced upon a cassette tape of The Beatles. At first he didn’t understand the lyrics, but still remembered the song “Yesterday.” “It was so wonderful that I continued to listen to it despite not understanding the lyrics,” he recalls. “Probably the biggest single influence on my career was The Beatles.”
Xu Wei, born in 1968, is another famous Chinese rock singer who pursued a music career because of passion for The Beatles. “British rock culture influenced my composing most,” he says.
Renowned rock singer Wang Feng, born in 1971, regards The Beatles as a significant part of his life. “When I feel helpless I listen to their songs and think,” he says. “They make me feel hope.”
In the early 1980s, soon after China implemented the reform and opening-up policy, few on the Chinese mainland had access to music from the West. Pop music from Hong Kong and Taiwan, which imitated its peers in Europe and America, became the window for the Chinese mainland to learn. Cui Jian, considered the “founding father” of Chinese rock music after releasing China’s first rock song “Nothing to My Name” in 1986, once said: “In the 1980s, hardly anyone knew anything about Western pop music.” However, those who became familiar with Western pop music have been leading China’s music scene and helping the rise
The Beatles are hailed as the most influential and successful British band of all time. In the summer of 1968, The Beatles are pictured here at Old Street Station in London. From left to right: Paul Mccartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. IC