Top 7 British Invasion Hits from the 1960s

American music changed in 1964, when British rock bands “invaded” the U.S. charts. The so-called British Invasion was led by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and The Hollies, among others. The cultural impact of bands from another country was unprecedented for young Americans. Brits had taken inherently American music—blues, R&B, rock ’n’ roll—and reflected it back on the country they once ruled. 

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New trends in fashion and hair took hold quickly in the States. Anglophilia was everywhere, all at once. Depending on the state, Black music wasn’t allowed on some radio stations. But the radio business changed its tune as soon as young, white rock bands with mod hairdos and British accents reintroduced the public to the rich history—and commercial viability—of American music.

Here’s one take on the Top 7 British Invasion hits from the ’60s. What’s yours?

1. “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks

In Nick Hasted’s biography of The Kinks, guitarist Dave Davies described “You Really Got Me” as a “love song for street kids.” Lead singer Ray Davies wrote the garage-rock anthem on piano, and when younger brother Dave heard the plinking version he knew right away the riff would be more powerful on guitar. Inspired by American music from the past, “You Really Got Me” would then influence future American music like punk rock. 

Girl, you really got me now
You got me so I don’t know what I’m doin’
Yeah, you really got me now
You got me so I can’t sleep at night

2. “She Loves You” by The Beatles

The Beatles released “She Loves You” in 1963 and soon set a U.S. chart record for occupying each of the Top 5 songs in the country. Paul McCartney said the tune was inspired by the call-and-response hook of “Forget Him” by Bobby Rydell. According to Bill Harry’s The Beatles Encyclopedia, McCartney finished the song with John Lennon in a hotel room while on tour with Roy Orbison. 

She says she loves you
And you know that can’t be bad
Yes, she loves you
And you know you should be glad

3. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones

Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” inspired Mick Jagger to write this critique of commercialism. And Keith Richards wrote the iconic guitar riff, quite literally, in his sleep. He woke up briefly to capture it on a cassette recorder before nodding off again. “Satisfaction” was The Rolling Stones’ first No. 1 single in the U.S. 

When I’m driving in my car
When a man come on the radio
He’s telling me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination

4. “She’s Not There” by The Zombies

“She’s Not There” was the first single from The Zombies. It peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The opening lyric—Well no one told me about her—was taken from the John Lee Hooker song “No One Told Me.” While other British rock bands were mining American blues and folk music, The Zombies built “She’s Not There” around a jazz-inspired riff. 

But it’s too late to say you’re sorry
How would I know, why should I care?
Please don’t bother tryin’ to find her
She’s not there

[RELATED: Who Wrote The Zombies’ “She’s Not There”]

5. “My Generation” by The Who

Pete Townshend credits the Mose Allison song “Young Man’s Blues” as inspiration for writing “My Generation,” and indeed, The Who’s garage rock anthem does break in similar ways to “Young Man’s Blues.” Though “My Generation” only reached No. 74 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, Townshend’s song’s sneering wish—I hope I die before I get old!—captured the hearts of American youth in 1965. 

People try to put us d-down (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we get around (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

6. “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals

“House of the Rising Sun” was the first non-Beatles British Invasion song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Animals’ cover of this traditional folk song is on their U.S. self-titled debut, released in 1964. In the U.S., the single was edited from its original length of four and half minutes. The song’s opening A-minor guitar arpeggio is one of the most recognizable guitar riffs in rock history. 

There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God, I know I’m one

7. “Bus Stop” by The Hollies

“Bus Stop” was The Hollies’ first Top 10 hit in the U.S., reaching No. 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song was written by Graham Gouldman, who wrote songs for fellow British Invaders The Yardbirds and Herman’s Hermits. In 1966, the influence of Indian raga on British rock musicians like George Harrison began a trend heard also on The Hollies’ “Bus Stop.”

That’s the way the whole thing started
Silly but it’s true
Thinkin’ of a sweet romance
Beginning in a queue

Photo by David Redfern/Redferns

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