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eatlemania: a word that has defined the world and made massive changes within not only the music industry but the western society. This word represents the phenomenon created by the popular music band named Beatles, considered to this day even the most popular and acclaimed group in the history of entertainment.

Everywhere they would go, fans would follow. Any trends they would create, fans would adopt and religiously follow. The unprecedented success of the Beatles is unmatched and their best year without a doubt was 1964. On February 9, 1964, the group performed live on “The Ed Sullivan Show” a very popular television show where 73 million people tuned in at the same time to watch and listen to their songs.

Biggest Controversies in Music History

The massive success could not come without any controversy, and soon newspapers would soon promote the idea of the Beatles becoming more popular than what was considered at the time the most popular religion in the world. Things however are a bit more complicated than that.

All the band members were adoring the success, especially at their young age and their egos soon started to show. Seeing that the media was comparing the band’s popularity to Christianity, it was inevitable for one of the members to make a comment on this topic which would be enough to start a domino effect.

Sightseeing in Paris, on January 15, 1964, the day before their opening at the Olympia Theatre in Paris, three of Britain’s four Beatles pause for a look around on the Champs Elysees. From left John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison. In the background is the Arc de Triomphe. (Source: RareHistoricalPhotos)

John Lennon, the guitarist who later on left the band and found his own path commented:

“Christianity will go…”

His comment was soon reprinted in popular magazines and that is where the heat of the controversy began. The first print of the comment was in a July issue of Datebook, a teen magazine from the US. Alabama, radio hosts Tommy Charles and Doug Layton derided the comment on-air as “blasphemous” and proposed a “Ban the Beatles” campaign, refusing to play the band’s music in response.

Beginning of a Cultural Crusade

This was taking place in 1964, so it was not long until the Ku Klux Klan became involved in this matter, nailing the Beatles’ records to a cross before setting it on fire. At the time the KKK still had quite a lot of influence within the American Christian community. The KKK was taken very seriously at the time, especially due to the large number of members they had all across America.

There was even an interview in 1965 where a KKK leader commented on Lennon’s statement about Christianity and went as far as threatening the band on live television.

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The Christian community itself was not associated with any racist group and was also not happy with the comments made by the group. The major issue here is that the Beatles were mostly appealing to teenagers and this worried the Christian community as they thought that children would be driven to become Atheists or even reach a point where they would hate Christianity just because their idols neglect it.

Beatles records were burned by the Christian community in 1966 (Source: RareHistoricalPhotos)

It was not long until the Christian community started associating the Beatles with Satan or the devil despite their music having no evil connotation. Christians did what they were best at and sold lies to children and Beatles fans in general by stating that those who listened to the blasphemous melodies would end up going to Hell.

Protestors that supported the Anti-Beatles movement in 1966 (Source: RareHistoricalPhotos)

It did not help that Lennon showed his support for religious books such as “The Passover Plot”, which outlined the controversial theory that Jesus Christ was a mortal man who faked his miracles with the unwitting help of his disciples. This reinforced the indirect statement brought by the Beatles which stated that Christianity was just an outdated lie.

Christianity may be an outdated political system used in medieval times, but what the two parties had been fighting for was which group would have a bigger influence on the masses, and from a capitalistic viewpoint, who would proceed to make the biggest sum of cash out of this whole scandal.

It is yet a controversial argument, but some say that it was the Christian community that set flame to the controversy as they were worried that their influence was actually being beaten by a group since its creation a couple of centuries ago.

One interesting aspect is that the Christian community from England, the country where the Beatles originated from never had an issue with their success. It was in 1964 when the Beatles had their first trip to the US when the trouble started. In other words, it was only the American Christian community that seemed to have an issue with the Beatles, at least until the hate was spread.

Christianity wins again

Things started to calm down in 1969 as John Lennon left the Beatles. Contemporary journalists say that the breakup of the band occurred due to the death of Brian Epstein, their manager who controlled their finance as well as egos. John Lennon left as he had other views and saw a more promising niche within the music industry.

The Christian community, on the other hand, seeing that they accomplished their scope of destroying the fanbase of the Beatles, stopped all the protests as their influential power was safe once again, at least for a couple of decades until the appearance of social media.

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