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The Beatles

Image and the Media

Publication Year: 2007

The Beatles: Image and the Media charts the transformation of the Beatles from teen idols to leaders of the youth movement and powerful cultural agents. Drawing upon American mainstream print media, broadcasts, albums, films, and videos, the study covers the band's career in the United States. Michael R. Frontani explores how the Beatles' media image evolved and how this transformation related to cultural and historical events. Upon their arrival in the U.S., the Beatles wore sharply tailored suits and cast themselves as adorable, accessible teen heartthrobs. By the end of the decade, they had absorbed the fashion and consciousness of the burgeoning counterculture and were using their interviews, media events, and music to comment on issues such as the Vietnam War, drug culture, and civil rights. Frontani traces the steps that led to this change and comments on how the band's mantra of essential optimism never wavered despite the evolution of its media profile. Michael R. Frontani is associate professor of communications at Elon University. His work has appeared in American Journalism, Journal of American Culture, Journalism History, and African Studies Review.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

On the night of December 8, 1980, as John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono returned to their New York City home from a recording session, a voice from the shadows called, “Mr. Lennon.” As Lennon turned to face the speaker, Mark David Chapman pumped four bullets from his Charter Arms .38 caliber revolver into the musician’s back and shoulder. “I’m shot!” gasped...

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ONE: “The Twentieth Century’s Greatest Romance”: Imagining the Beatles

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pp. 1-19

Many baby boomers could recite the facts of how a group of working class kids lived their own rags-to-riches story, rising from the tough northern English port city of Liverpool to enjoy the greatest commercial success ever witnessed in the history of popular music. They could tell how these four lads—John, Paul, George, and Ringo—affected everything from hairstyles...

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TWO: “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles!”: Introducing the Image

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pp. 20-69

As John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr crossed the Atlantic on Pan Am flight 101, there was a sense of excitement, for success in America would solidify the position of the Beatles as Britain’s greatest exponents of pop music; yet the Beatles were apprehensive. McCartney confided to Phil Spector, the American record producer accompanying...

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THREE: “Preparing Our Teenagers for Riot and Ultimate Revolution”: The Touring Years, 1964–66

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pp. 70-125

On February 18, 1964, a week prior to the Beatles’ departure from the United States, the New York Times noted that the Beatles had signed with United Artists Corporation to star in a movie (“Beatles Signed” 28). Riding high on their success in Great Britain, the Beatles inked a three-picture deal with United...

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FOUR: “The Mood of the Sixties”: The Beatles as Artists, 1966–68

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pp. 126-177

In the post-Beatlemania period following the end of touring, the Beatles attempted to leave behind their show-business image and to make their public image more authentic and consistent with their perceptions of themselves. The Beatles’ new image broke with the “Fab Four” of the Beatlemania years and instead presented...

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FIVE: “Beatlepeople”: Rolling Stone, 1967–70

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pp. 178-214

Writing in late 1968, Jann Wenner, the young founder and editor of Rolling Stone, made no bones about the importance of the Beatles to the youth culture of the 1960s: “In considering the Beatles, . . . we are actually considering several much bigger things: we are, of course, considering the Beatles as individuals; we are considering their impact on the world; we are considering...

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SIX: “Beautiful People”: The Beatles’ Idealized Past

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pp. 215-236

This book began with the death of John Lennon. As we have seen, the Beatles’ image embodied, reflected, and sometimes was a catalyst for, much of the change that occurred during the 1960s. Small wonder, then, that Lennon’s death unleashed such a torrent of comment both celebrating and condemning the accomplishments of that decade. The airwaves and newsstands...


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pp. 237-253


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pp. 255-273


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pp. 275-286

E-ISBN-13: 9781604731569
E-ISBN-10: 1604731567
Print-ISBN-13: 9781578069668
Print-ISBN-10: 1578069661

Publication Year: 2007