Family, Factory, and…Rock and Roll?

The four flagship members of the rock band “The Beatles” portrayed on nesting dolls.


When you think popular music of the Soviet Union, the Beatles might not spring to mind. But in the relatively liberated time after the death of Stalin, and Khrushchev’s opening of some cultural borders, the young people of the Soviet Union soon found themselves in love with the Beatles, much like their western counterparts. Many elements of western youth culture filtered into soviet youth culture. Long hair, loud music, and drugs became the hallmark of a new counterculture movement.×682.png


Of course, much like their American brethren, Russian Beatlemaniacs and hippies were looked down upon by society for a time. “The Beatles led these young people into a filthy morass of moral dissipation,” reads one news article; “They are the so-called “hippies,” our half-baked imitators of the American and British good-for-nothings who call themselves by this name and think they are “independent,” says another. Despite this initial dislike and condemnation, the counterculture eventually becomes mainstream. “That damned music” becomes “Classic Rock,” and the world keeps turning. Eventually music schools open their curriculum to rock, and begin to encourage growth, and innovation, instead of imitation of western works. An article in a Russian newspaper lauds a folk band in 1973 that combined the instruments and lyrical style of the Beatles with Belorussian Folk Music. So when you dust off an old vinyl, remember an old babushka has the same record in her cottage.

Source for Periodicals

Guardian Article



5 thoughts on “Family, Factory, and…Rock and Roll?”

  1. Very interesting! I had no idea that the Beatles were that popular in Russia. This just goes to show the impact that Western influence had on the Russian people and how the culture was evolving there. It also makes sense that society there looked down on this aspect of the culture because it went going against the morals of the society at the time: working as a whole and being productive went against the concept of the “individual” and the “half-baked” attitude that the “Rock and Roll” culture took on. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Really interesting how well known the Beatles were in the Soviet Union. I also think it was cool how they attracted the same type of listener as in the US and UK.

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