Popular Music History, Vol 5, No 2 (2010)

The role and significance of storytelling in the creation of the ‘post-Sixties’ Beatles, 1970–1980

Holly Tessler
Issued Date: 21 Nov 2011

Abstract


This article considers the relationship between the cultural and commercial elements of popular music storytelling. Using The Beatles as a case study, the article takes a cross-section of the kinds of (hi)stories circulating about the group in the period immediately following their breakup, 1970–1980. This kind of analysis will show that despite this era being one in which
the former Beatles sought to distance themselves from their own musical and cultural ‘legacies’, other stakeholders tapped into the power of popular and collective memory of the group for profit (where profit need not be classed in purely financial terms). The final section of the article maintains that while the ‘facts’ of Beatles history seldom change, the social and cultural contexts which frame those facts can, and indeed, must change in order to remain relevant to successive
generations of popular music and culture fans and consumers. The article concludes that the ongoing origination, promotion and amending of certain elements of Beatles history can
be read as ‘commercialized storytelling’, where some historians and narrators, through distinct entrepreneurial practices, seek to transform expert or ‘insider’ knowledge of The Beatles into commodities that are simultaneously materially and/or culturally valuable.

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DOI: 10.1558/pomh.v5i2.169

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