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Book: The Beatles in Perspective

Chapter: 13. The American Beetles: How a Fake Beatles Band Defined a Movement, Changed a Culture, and Beat the Beatles at Their Own Game

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.43626


In this piece the author explores the remarkable story of ‘The American Beetles’, arguably the first ever Beatles tribute act, equally possibly a huge confidence trick played on audiences, promoters and broadcasters in mid 1960s South America – but also one which speaks of the way the music business worked in the mid 1960s and how to some extent it still does. An American entrepreneur put together an act which was purported to be The Beatles without ever actually promising that they were the real thing. Issues of identity, authenticity and audience are all brought to the table in this extraordinary tale which starts with glimpses of unimagined success for the musicians involved and ends with disappointment for band, promoters and audience. The fevered politics of South America in the period also add much to the mix, while a blend of personal reminiscence, contemporary comment and historical perspective allows the details of this little known story to shine through for perhaps the first time.

Chapter Contributors

  • Ed Prideaux ( - eprideaux)