Why have McCartney and chums survived?

Unless you live entirely in the world of politics and economics, in which case you’re a little boring, you can’t fail to have noticed that last week’s entertainment news was dominated by some very familiar acts indeed. Paul McCartney (b1942) headlined Glastonbury. The equally venerable Diana Ross was there too. While the surviving Rolling Stones were selling out in London, albeit with a line up much changed from their early years. Even we can remember these performers topping the popular musical hit parade charts in 1964. We’ll leave you to add your own memories in the space below, but we calculate that as being 58 years.

Fifty eight years! The same distance going backwards from 1964 takes you to 1906. How many megastars from 1906 would be selling out tours in 1964? How many were even remembered. And how many today? Our researchers came up with a rather short list of names from 1906, including Dan Leno, Little Tich and Vesta Tilley. The brevity alone suggests that Edwardian artistes had little staying power or much to say to future generations. Or is that patronising-is there a different reason?

McCartney and his peers were children of the first true global markets. When musicians, using new recording and distribution technologies like film and vinyl could build huge global followings across many countries. Such technologies were in their infancies in the Edwardian period. so American or Chinese fans were unlikely to be exposed to Little Tich in any great numbers. Some performers like Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin did indeed make it on both sides of the Atlantic, but this was largely due to the maturing film technologies of the decades after Edward VII. They paved the way for the first true international stars like Laurence Olivier and Humphrey Bogart.

It’s not McCartney and co aren’t talented-they are. But it’s also likely that they were born at the right time, and knew how to use their opportunities. A fortunate combination indeed.

#globalisation #technology #entertainment #paul mccartney #rolling stones #diana ross #glastonbury

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