1962: The year the music changed

The year 1962 did not seem to portend great things in the world of pop music.

The brightest lights of '50s music -- including Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley -- were either inactive, in jail, or not making the kind ofrock 'n' roll that made them famous.

The charts were filled with songs like Chubby Checker's "The Twist" and the Four Seasons' "Big Girls Don't Cry" -- hardly the kind of music that electrified teenagers and frightened parents just a few short years before.

But beneath the surface, a youth-quake was bubbling:

On Jan. 1, 1962, four young men from Liverpool, who called themselves the Beatles, auditioned for Decca Records. They failed that test, but passed one months later with EMI and entered the recording studio for the first time.

In March, a scruffy, 20-year-old singer named Bob Dylan released his first album, consisting mostly of his versions of folk standards.

In July of that year, a new group called the Rollin' Stones played their first gig. The lineup included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones.

And in October, a clean-cut vocal group from Hawthorne, Calif., called the Beach Boys, released their first album, "Surfin' Safari."

Though their early accomplishments were little noted at the time, the artists went on to revolutionize music and popular culture.

"It was a change in a generation and a style," said Dave "Stoney" Stone, program director of 96.5 BOB FM in Fayetteville.

Stone noted that artists such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys were able to take advantage of studio techniques that were not available just a few years before. Even stereo was a novelty.

"It was an experimental time in recording, and a lot of new things were coming around," Stone said. "Suddenly, we were layering tracks."

For local musician Bob Steele, the music of acts such as the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan is "embedded in our society."

Steele noted that most of those artists who debuted in 1962 were born while World War II was raging. Their music, he said, represented the more affluent and optimistic post-war world.

"They're celebrating a lot more than rock 'n' roll," Steele said. "They're celebrating a world that came back from an apocalyptic war. Rock 'n' roll brought us back."

Bill Joyner is part of the popular local band Joyner, Young and Marie and hosts the "Down Home Blues" program Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on public radio station WFSS.

Joyner said the artists' music has persisted in popularity because all four acts were innovators in their own way. And each pushed the others on to greater creative heights.

"It's why you're still hearing their stuff on the radio," Joyner said. "There's no substitute for good."

Behind the Music

Here's a look at the legendary artists and where they were 50 years ago.