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Battle of the Bands

The British are coming, the British are coming!

Satisfaction has performed some 3,000 times over the last decade-and-a-half. Photo credit: BvS Facebook page

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Inspired by American blues and rock of the 1950s, British musicians of the early 1960s developed hybrid styles called skiffle (an amateur form of jazz personified by singer Lonnie Donegan) and Merseybeat (a Liverpool movement that hit all four beats of common time on the snare drum equally). The first wave of a thundering, transatlantic juggernaut hit American shores in December 1962, when an instrumental piece, "Telstar," gave a London group called The Tornados a #1 smash on the Billboard charts. The Tornados are obscure now, here and overseas, but the second wave of the British Invasion current was anything but. Walter Cronkite first mentioned a wildly popular, Liverpudian quartet on the CBS Evening News in fall 1963, but that first report, Nov. 22, was overshadowed by grimmer tidings. Cronkite reran the story Dec. 10; then a week later, Washington, D.C. station WWDC added a four-track number by the group to its lineup. That's when Beatlemania, to the unforgettable tune of "I Want to Hold Your Hand," arrived in the U.S. of A. Four months later, the top five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 were "Please Please Me," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," "Twist and Shout" and "Can't Buy Me Love" -- a single-band sweep never duplicated since.

The Fab Four were quickly joined on stateside radio by Dusty Springfield, The Animals, The Dave Clark Five, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and Herman's Hermits. The Rolling Stones, essentially a blues-cover band that formed around London's Ealing Jazz Club in 1964, cracked the Billboard charts almost overnight with "Not Fade Away," the first of 57 Billboard Hot 100-charting singles to date. The Stones have hit #1 eight times, most recently in 1978 with "Miss You." That achievement qualifies them for pop-rock pantheon status alongside Elton, Elvis, Madonna and Stevie. Yet the battle rages on: Which was better, the Beatles or the Stones? When John, Paul, George and Ringo were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, they were introduced by Mick Jagger, who confessed, "We had a lot of rivalry in those early years and a little bit of friction, but we always ended up friends, and I'd like to think we still are."

That rivalry hits two local stages this week in the form of a traveling concert experience that stars tribute acts Abbey Road and Satisfaction. The former is familiar to local music fans thanks to a much-loved 2015-2016 traveling show, In My Life - A Musical Theatre Tribute to the Beatles. Satisfaction, aka "The International Rolling Stones Show," has performed some 3,000 times over the last decade-and-a-half. So who wins this historic, rock-and-roll showdown? Clearly, we all have.

Beatles vs. Stones -- A Musical Showdown, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 8, Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia, $38-$58, 360.753.8586, washingtoncenter.org

Beatles vs. Stones -- A Musical Showdown, 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 9, Rialto Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, $38-$68, 253.591.5890, broadwaycenter.org

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