Rock & roll’s influence on Russian youth culture was big, bold, and brash from the very beginning, and it only grew as the impact of pop music and 1960s counter-culture grew in the West – led in large part by the Fab Four.
This monument to the Beatles in the city of Yekaterinburg in central Russia may seem out of place, but they were so popular in the underground music scene of the USSR, and their cultural impact so great, the monument – comprised of a wall sculpture and accompanying mural – seems right where it should be.
The Beatles’ place in Soviet hearts and musical souls was hard won. Ever ingenious in finding ways to subvert Communist rule, if teenagers couldn’t buy Beatles jackets or boots, they’d make their own by refashioning the government-issued bulky coats and chunky boots they did have. When they couldn’t get their hands on actual albums or 45s, they’d bootleg their own versions by scratching the grooves into discarded X-ray plates, creating what became known as “bone music.” It could be risky to exchange Western music in the USSR, but for those who loved and revered the lads from Liverpool, it was worth the risk.
It’s been argued that Western pop musicians in general were instrumental in triggering a shift in the allegiance of young people away from Soviet influence. Exactly how politically important they were is tough to say for sure, but the Beatles and Russia have long held each other close, and this small monument, sitting smack in the middle of two continents, is a reminder of the place they hold in the hearts of many Russians.
Know Before You Go
If you get the tourist map of Yekaterinburg this will be on the Red line of tourist sites. The Beatles monument is at a lower elevation than Gorkogo street so look toward the river.