Paul Popper/Getty Images
The Shadows on stage in the 1960s. The British rock act, formed as a backing band for singer Cliff Richard (center), was among the U.K. acts who stayed behind as The Beatles and others were cresting in America.
The Shadows on stage in the 1960s. The British rock act, formed as a backing band for singer Cliff Richard (center), was among the U.K. acts who stayed behind as The Beatles and others were cresting in America. Paul Popper/Getty Images
By this day in 1964, a few acts from the U.K. had already cracked the American charts. When the The Beatles made their U.S. television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, the door was symbolically kicked wide open. The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, Herman's Hermits — they all sold millions here. But for whatever reason, a few great British bands from that era did not make the trip across the pond.
Lenny Kaye was a teenager at the time. Best known as the guitarist for the Patti Smith Group, he's also a great collector of rock 'n' roll obscurities, who curated a now-legendary box set of '60's rock music, 1972's Nuggets.
"I was perfectly positioned to be swept up in the hysteria," Kaye says. "The summer before, I'd learned my first chords on the guitar, hoping to be a lonely folk singer in the backyard. And then, all of a sudden, an entirely new role model and aspirational ideal came before me on television."
Kaye spoke with NPR's Arun Rath about five of his favorite Brit bands from the era who simply never made the trans-Atlantic trip. Listen to their conversation at the audio link, and browse the music below.