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10th February, 2021

The Beatles in Asia: never fading charms

The Beatles first arrived in Asia in the 1960s, a territory that they had never toured before. 

When their plane landed, hundreds of fans waited at the airport and hotel for a glimpse of the Fab Four. All they wanted was to greet The Beatles, and when they finally arrived, there was lots of crying, screaming and some teenagers even fainted! There were also lots of police around to try and maintain order.

People from Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines loved the mop-topped Englishmen from Liverpool in the 1960s. In Japan, a Beatles fan described their show as a 'social phenomenon' which led to the birth of a real Japanese rock music scene.

The band is widely recognised as one of the most influential in history. Even though the closest The Beatles came to performing in China was a visit to Hong Kong in 1964, still, millions of Chinese have heard about The Beatles nowadays. The Beatles exhibitions and documentaries became a massive success in China in the last five years. In 2018, 28 famous Beatles albums were made available on a Chinese music streaming service, connecting younger listeners to the world's greatest band. 

The younger Chinese generation even follows the fashion from the 60s; teenagers love wearing John Lennon 'granny' style glasses. They think they are the most iconic glasses in rock and roll history. When you search the keyword 'John Lennon glasses' on one of the Chinese online shopping websites, you can find hundreds of products to suit your 'John Lennon outfit.'

'Beatlemania' took the world by storm, and the Fab Four remain a pop culture phenomenon in China and the other Asian countries. The Beatles have also been an excellent inspiration for Asian singers and songwriters. Hundreds of Asian artists covered the Beatles’ famous songs on their albums, and in their shows or concerts, making a significant impact on their fans. They started to listen to The Beatles' songs, films, and books, they are well known as 'idols of idols'. 

One very impressive example is that the king of Korean-Pop, boy band BTS, channelled the British pop legends during their first appearance on the Late Show; they recreated the Beatles' performance of 'Twist & Shout' on The Ed Sullivan Show from 1964. 

The modern super band, BTS, have many similarities with the Beatles, the media also describe their impact as 'BTS-mania'. 

50 years after 'Beatlesmania' swept the globe, BTS successfully invaded the US, fans from all around the world also cry, scream and sing along at concerts. In 2019, BTS became the first band since The Beatles to have three Billboard No.1 albums in a single year. 

However, it is hard to compare two popular bands from very different eras. One thing we can prove is that The Beatles and BTS both enjoy playing music and their fans love them so much. The Beatles still influence the modern music style, marketing, and the way they engage with their fans. Musically, the Asian artists put lots of effort into breaking through the language barrier, making them grow rapidly to expand into the world, just like The Beatles.

Learn more about the lives and careers of The Beatles, from their early days in Hamburg to worldwide Beatlemania at The Beatles Story, the worlds largest permanent exhibition dedicated to the loves of the Fab Four from Liverpool.

Phoebe Choi

Phoebe is the Sales and Marketing Assistant – Asia Pacific Markets at The Beatles Story

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