Beatles scholar sheds light on the band’s 1950s influences

Beatles scholar sheds light on the band’s 1950s influences

A full house of Beatles fans sat in the Brentwood Library on Wednesday night to hear the only Beatles scholar in the U.S. talk about their early 1950s influences.

A full house of Beatles fans sat in the Brentwood Library on Wednesday night to hear the only Beatles scholar in the U.S. talk about the band’s early 1950s influences.

At just 30 years old, Aaron Krerowicz is a Beatles scholar who has studied at the University of Hartford, Boston University and Butler University, professionally researching the Beatles’ music, influences and lives.

He learned about the Beatles from his dad, and they spent most of his time growing up listening to the band together. In June 2015, he quit all of his other jobs and made the commitment to being a full-time Beatles scholar after receiving a grant in 2011 while at the University of Hartford.

Krerowicz has published three books and is working on a few more while speaking to audiences across the U.S.

On Wednesday night, he presented “The Influence of Rock & Roll on the Beatles,” a 90-minute illustration on the influence of 1950s musicians like Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley had on the Beatles.

The presentation was a Beatles and rock ‘n’ roll study, with side-by-side comparisons and musical analysis of Beatles covers and the original recordings of nine top influencers.

Krerowicz explained how Jerry Lee Lewis was a huge influence on the Beatles, citing they covered at least 11 of his songs including “When the Saints Go Marching In.” He also explained that in their early days, the Beatles often found their audiences were inebriated, and if they played timidly no one would pay them any attention.

“Lewis’ sense of stage presence was likely very influential on the Beatles’ own stage presence,” he said. “By 21st century standards, Lewis was really quite tame, but for 1950s standards, he was pretty wild.

“What they [Beatles] had to do is be ridiculous on stage, they had to channel that Jerry Lee Lewis sense of stage presence because then people would put down their beers and pay attention to them performing.”

The Beatles were also influenced by Gene Vincent and covered at least 14 of his songs. In 1956, Vincent released a cover of the 1927 song “Ain’t She Sweet,” and the Beatles later did a similar version based on his.

“Both ‘Saints’ and ‘Ain’t She Sweet,’ neither were conceived as rock ‘n’ roll songs,” Krerowicz said. “They predate rock ‘n’ roll by quite some time. Beatles covers of them are based on rock ‘n’ roll renditions of those older songs.”

Vincent also influenced the Beatles in their style and dress. Krerowicz noted Paul McCartney once said, “We wore leather pants, and we looked like four Gene Vincents.”

Buddy Holly was an influence to the Beatles, and they were inspired that he wrote his own songs. Kreowicz played an audio of Paul McCartney saying circa 1958 that, “We loved his vocal sound and we loved his guitar playing, but most of all the fact that he wrote the stuff himself. That’s what turned us on.”

Holly wrote his own lyrics and music, performed and recorded his own music, and was partially who inspired the Beatles to do likewise.

Before they were the Beatles, their band name was Quarry Men. They recorded Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day” then, learning it by ear by listening to the record.

“It’s clearly them imitating Holly’s styles and Holly’s songs,” Krerowicz said. “The biggest difference is that there are two people singing.”

By mid-1960 the Beatles decided they didn’t like the name Quarry Men. They tried new names, including Long John and the Silver Beatles. They eventually decided just the Beatles, a nod to Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets.

Krerowicz compared lyrics from Buddy Holly’s “Raining in My Heart” and the Beatles “Dear Prudence.” Holly’s say, “the sun is out, the sky is blue.” The Beatles’ say, “the sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are you.”

“Those lyrics are so standard and common that there’s no guarantee Lennon had Buddy Holly in mind when he penned those words,” Krerowicz said. “Intentional or not, they are practically identical.”

Elvis Presley was the single biggest influencer on the Beatles, according to Krerowicz. The Beatles covered at last 31 Elvis songs in their performances, but didn’t officially record or release any.

“Elvis was dominant,” Krerowicz said. “There were nearly twice as many Elvis covers as anybody else. The Quarry Men performed ‘Baby Let’s Play House’ on July 6, 1957, the day John and Paul met for the first time.”

In January of 1969, the Beatles would warm up singing Elvis songs like “All Shook Up” before they recorded their big songs like “Let It Be.” Krerowicz said they never recorded any Elvis songs because they weren’t as big of fans after he came back from the Army.

Krerowicz shared that McCartney once said, “I like him [Elvis] best around 1956, when he was young and gorgeous and had a twinkle in his eye, when he had a sense of humor, plus that great voice … I went off Elvis after he left the Army. I felt they tamed him too much. It was all wrong – GI Blues and Blue Hawaii … he went to Hollywood and the light had gone out of his eyes.”

Krerowicz has an A.D. from the University of Hartford, The Hartt School, an M.M. from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts and a B.M. form Butler University’s Jordan College of Fine Arts.

For more information about him, visit

Samantha Hearn reports for Home Page Media Group. She can be reached via email at or on Twitter @samanthahearn.

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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