In this lesson, students practice writing and evaluating algebraic expressions to explain The Beatles’ and Little Richard’s concert schedules during the early years of their career.
To many, The Beatles seem to have been a big bang, bursting from obscurity to international stardom with their 1963 debut album, Please Please Me. Quite the opposite is true. In the years before the group had a recording contract, they worked constantly, primarily playing concerts.
Between 1960 and 1963, The Beatles maintained a rigorous concert schedule. Outside of their hometown of Liverpool, England, they performed lengthy concert residencies in Hamburg, Germany. One of their residencies included a stretch of 104 consecutive shows. During this time they worked on repertoire, learning dozens of “cover” songs spanning several genres. They worked on their group sound, playing several sets a night and fine tuning the skills that helped them “hold” an audience’s attention.
The work ethic The Beatles applied to their concert schedule wasn’t out of the norm for the music industry at that time. Grueling concert schedules were already an understood part of the work and lifestyle for touring musicians. Jazz big bands at the height of their popular success in the 1930s and 1940s were criss-crossing the U.S. year-round. Black American music artists like Little Richard who pioneered the sound of Rock and Roll rose to success via an arduous concert schedule. Little Richards’ chart-topping hits defined the sound of the new genre, and his dynamic live performances set the standard for an exhilarating Rock show. The Beatles knew this and learned from it, so much so that many of their shows featured them “covering” Little Richard songs.
The musicianship The Beatles developed and refined during these early years profoundly informed how they operated as a group for the rest of their career. When examining this period and aspect of the band’s history, using algebraic expressions to analyze performance data can provide a deeper understanding of how the group’s relentless early concert schedule paved the way for much of their later success.