On February 7, 1964, Pan Am Yankee Clipper flight 101 from London Heathrow lands at New York’s Kennedy Airport—and “Beatlemania” arrives. It was the first visit to the United States by the Beatles, a British rock-and-roll quartet that had just scored its first No. 1 U.S. hit six days before with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” At Kennedy, the “Fab Four”—dressed in mod suits and sporting their trademark pudding bowl haircuts—were greeted by 3,000 screaming fans who caused a near riot when the boys stepped off their plane and onto American soil.
Two days later, Paul McCartney, age 21, Ringo Starr, 23, John Lennon, 23, and George Harrison, 20, made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, a popular television variety show. Although it was difficult to hear the performance over the screams of teenage girls in the studio audience, an estimated 73 million U.S. television viewers, or about 40 percent of the U.S. population, tuned in to watch. Sullivan immediately booked the Beatles for two more appearances that month. The group made their first public concert appearance in the United States on February 11 at the Coliseum in Washington, D.C., and 20,000 fans attended. The next day, they gave two back-to-back performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall, and police were forced to close off the streets around the venerable music hall because of fan hysteria. On February 22, the Beatles returned to England.
The Beatles’ first American tour left a major imprint in the nation’s cultural memory. With American youth poised to break away from the culturally rigid landscape of the 1950s, the Beatles, with their exuberant music and good-natured rebellion, were the perfect catalyst for the shift. Their singles and albums sold millions of records, and at one point in April 1964 all five best-selling U.S. singles were Beatles songs. By the time the Beatles first feature-film, A Hard Day’s Night, was released in August, Beatlemania was epidemic the world over. Later that month, the four boys from Liverpool returned to the United States for their second tour and played to sold-out arenas across the country.
Later, the Beatles gave up touring to concentrate on their innovative studio recordings, such as 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, a psychedelic concept album that is regarded as a masterpiece of popular music. The Beatles’ music remained relevant to youth throughout the great cultural shifts of the 1960s, and critics of all ages acknowledged the songwriting genius of the Lennon-McCartney team. In 1970, the Beatles disbanded, leaving a legacy of 18 albums and 30 Top 10 U.S. singles.
During the next decade, all four Beatles pursued solo careers, with varying success. Lennon, the most outspoken and controversial Beatle, was shot to death by a deranged fan outside his New York apartment building in 1980. McCartney was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 for his contribution to British culture. In November 2001, George Harrison succumbed to cancer. Ringo Starr was knighted himself for "services to music" in 2018.
READ MORE: When Beatlemania Swept the United States
On This Day in NYC History, February 7, 1964: The Beatles Arrived at JFK Airport
On February 7th 1964, Paul, John, Ringo and George, four young men from Liverpool, England got off the Pan Am 101 flight, at the newly named John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens. These four young men, all wearing black suits, black ties and black shoes were greeted at the now demolished Worldport Terminal by three large groups: 100 members of the NYPD, 200 members of the press, and over 4,000 screaming fans (mostly female).
The U.S was still in mourning over John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas 77 days earlier. The nation was in need of a distraction, something to talk about besides war, assassination and riots. When Paul, John, George and Ringo first arrived in NYC 50 years ago for a performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, their first ever U.S. appearance, over 70 million people tuned in—a television record.
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center hosts a new exhibit showcasing Beatlemania and its conquest of American pop culture from 1964-1966. The exhibit titled “Ladies and Gentleman… The Beatles!” is a collaboration between the NYPL, the GRAMMY Museum® and Fab Four Exhibits. It goes in-depth with the pop culture phenomenon that was The Beatles.
The exhibit features numerous Beatles themed merchandise ranging from dolls to fashion items, and large installations showcasing how fans and businesses dealt with the arrival of the Fab Four.
If you want to know if the author truly lives in a “Yellow Submarine” contact him @TatteredFedora
When the Beatles Arrived in America, Reporters Ignored the Music and Obsessed Over Hair
February 9 marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' legendary first performance on the "Ed Sullivan Show." At the time, the band was already wildly successful in Britain—over the previous three years, they'd rapidly become the country's most popular group, and were met by hordes of screaming teenagers at every public appearance—but in the United States, they were known for only a few fast-selling singles released by Capitol Records, along with rumors of the Beatlemania that had struck the U.K.
An estimated 74 million people—a full 38 percent of the American population—tuned into CBS at 8 p.m. to see the band's American debut (they played "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand," among other songs). Today, music scholars look back at the performance as a watershed moment, a turning point in the history in American music that inextricably influenced a huge proportion of all the pop and rock that's come since.
The Beatles' Ed Sullivan Show performance. (Image via Library of Congress)
At the time, though, reporters and critics had a much more important concern: the Beatles' unconventional appearances, starting with their shaggy, untrimmed hair.
Shortly before they arrived, the New Yorker introduced the band thusly (subscription required): "Their appearance, to judge by photographs of them in the English press, is distinctive, their getup including identical haircuts in dishmop—or as one London newspaper put it, Ancient British—style, and lapelless suits patterned after a Pierre Cardin design."
After they landed, Time observed that "They look like shaggy Peter Pans, with their mushroom-haircuts and high white shirt collars." Identifying them as "four shrewdly goofy-looking lads" and running a full-page spread with their moptops atwirl, Life magazine reassured American moms and dads that "British parents do not mind their offspring's mania because Beatles lyrics are clean and happy. As one critic observed, 'Their hair is long and shaggy, but well-scrubbed.'" In conveying the Beatlemania phenomenon that had already engulfed Britain, Life informed us that 20,000 Beatle wigs had been sold and quoted the headmaster of an English school that had banned the haircut: "'This ridiculous style brings out the worst in boys,' he said. 'It makes them look like morons.'"
An estimated 4000 fans waited for the Beatles' flight to arrive at JFK. (Image via Library of Congress)
A few days after their "Ed Sullivan Show" performance, pop psychologist Joyce Brothers wrote a column "Why They Go Wild Over the Beatles," opining that the explanation couldn't possibly be the music alone. "The Beatles display a few mannerisms which almost seem a shade on the feminine side, such as tossing of their long manes of hair," she wrote. "These are exactly the mannerisms which very young female fans (in the 10-to-14 age group) appear to go wildest over."
The press spilled a lot of ink trying to explain the Beatles—commenting on how squadrons of police officers and the use of disguises were needed to protect the Beatles from mobs of teenage girls, and how impressed Queen Elizabeth had been with their Royal Command Performance concert—but paid curiously little attention to their music itself (Life dismissed it as "standard rock 'n' roll with a jackhammer beat"). This might have something to do with a sentiment that was quite common in 1964: that the era of rock 'n' roll was finished.
"By early 1964, in fact, America had mostly left rock & roll behind," Mikal Gilmore recently wrote in Rolling Stone. "Buddy Holly had died, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry had been blacklisted, Elvis had joined the Army, and pioneering rock DJ Alan Freed had been booted off the air—all these events neutered rock's early spirit and hindered its future." Many thought that rock was essentially dead, and the last thing they expected was that a rock band from Britain—which had recently been the recipient of American music culture, rather than a contributor to it—would make a mark on U.S. music. The Beatles, many music critics assumed, were a passing fad.
Of course, we're now well-aware that American rock was anything but dead, and that the Beatles' "Ed Sullivan Show" performance was just the start of a remarkable run that would see them top the charts for a full third of the time between 1964 and their break-up, in 1970. Ultimately, they'd become the best-selling artists of all time in the U.S., usher in the British Invasion—a pop music phenomenon that saw the Rolling Stones, the Who and other U.K. bands achieve successes stateside—and fundamentally influence the music industry for all the artists that followed. Among many other precedents, they staged the first concerts in large sports stadiums and filmed the predecessors of first music videos, A Hard Day's Night and Help!
After playing three nights on the "Ed Sullivan Show" and public concerts in New York, Washington, DC, and Miami, the Beatles flew home to Britain on Feburary 22. The New Yorker's wrap up (again, subscription required), written in the voice of an imaginary teenage boy:
Conclusion: The Beatles' tour of New York was a success because they are nice guys and the girls think they look cute. Also, they are worth listening to, even if they aren't as good as the Everly Brothers, which they really aren't.
Feb. 11 1964, the Beatles' first concert in the United States
February 11th marks the 48th anniversary of the Beatles' first concert in America. Two days earlier, the group introduced themselves to the nation by performing on New York-based "The Ed Sullivan Show." The "Fab Four" from Liverpool were famously met by more than 3,000 hysterical and nearly riotous fans at JFK airport when they first arrived in the city.
After the concert, the Beatles headed south to Washington, D.C., to play a raucous set before thousands of ecstatic teenagers at the overbooked Washington Coliseum.
American "Beatle-Mania" was a relatively recent development. Devotion to the group came seemingly overnight, with their first song to hit the U.S. charts, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" rocketing to number one that previous December, selling more than 5 million copies in seven weeks. The Beatles then succeeded themselves at the number one spot with "She Loves You," already a hit in England.
Washingtonian Carroll James is the DJ credited with first playing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on U.S. airwaves. The Beatles' subsequent popularity in the nation's capital inspired the band's visit to the District after their Sullivan performance.
A ticket envelope from the Beatles' D.C. concert.
The concert at the now-defunct Washington Coliseum was nothing like the shows that would be staged by rock musicians just a few years later. Sub-par amplification coupled with incessant screaming from throngs of teens made the band hard to hear. The stage was placed in the center of the crowd, forcing members of the band to move their equipment around the stage during the performance in order to face each section of the audience. This was especially inconvenient to percussionist Ringo Starr, who was responsible for moving his large drum-kit about numerous times throughout the night.
None of this seemed deter the enjoyment of the hysterical crowd, whose screaming continued unabated throughout the entire performance. After sitting through opening acts The Caravelles, Tommy Roe, and the Chiffons, fans were given this set by the Beatles: "Roll Over Beethoven" "From Me to You" "I Saw Her Standing There" "This Boy" "All My Loving" "I Wanna Be Your Man" "Please Please Me" "Till There Was You" "She Loves You" "I Want to Hold Your Hand" "Twist and Shout" and "Long Tall Sally."
After the appearance, the Beatles went to a party at the British Embassy. They then returned to New York to play two half-hour sets at the famed Carnegie Hall. Their performance on the Ed Sullivan program made the group the talk of the music world, compelling a return trip to the States that summer where they traveled across the country and played larger venues.
Their fantastic success created a "British Invasion" of other English artists inspired by American rock and roll, such as the Rolling Stones and the Kinks, who also found enthusiastic audiences in the United States.
A ticket stub from the February 11 concert, donated by Patricia Mink.
A ticket stub from the Beatle's historic appearance in the Smithsonian's hometown was recently given to the National Museum of American History by long-time D.C. resident Patricia Mink, who attended the concert with her friends. Ms. Mink also included other materials from her youth, including concert programs, autographs, and sound recordings. We are thankful for these materials, as they help us tell the story of this exciting, transitional time in American popular culture.
Eric Jentsch is the deputy chair of the Division of Culture and the Arts at the National Museum of American History.
How the Beatles Took America: Inside the Biggest Explosion in Rock & Roll History
The Beatles: JOHN LENNON, GEORGE HARRISON, RINGO STARR, PAUL MCCARTNEY arrive in New York. February 2004 marked the 40th Anniversary of Beatlemania and thier first visit to the USA. The Fab 4 celebrates their Fab 40.
Keystone Press Agency/ZUMA
John Lennon began to fall silent as the flight wore on.
For that matter, Paul McCartney &ndash who said he had believed in the Beatles’ success from the moment in December 1962 when the band’s debut single, “Love Me Do,” first appeared on British charts &ndash also had some apprehensions, though he might deny it. It was Friday, February 7th, 1964, and only a few hours earlier the Beatles had left England, headed for their first American appearances, including a U.S. TV debut on Ed Sullivan’s massively popular Sunday-night variety show. It had taken about a year after their early U.K. successes for the Beatles’ music to win attention in the U.S., but matters had changed dramatically in recent weeks. On January 17th, while playing a three-week residency in Paris, Lennon and McCartney, along with the band’s lead guitarist, George Harrison, and drummer, Ringo Starr, were all gathered in their hotel suite after a show when manager Brian Epstein told them he’d received a telegram from Capitol Records: Their first single for the label, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” had just hit Number One on Cashbox, having sold a quarter-million copies in the U.S. within three days of its release. “The Beatles couldn’t even speak&hellip Just sat on the floor like kittens at Brian’s feet,” said the band’s photographer Dezo Hoffman. Arranger and producer Quincy Jones was also present in Paris, and he, Epstein and McCartney made a bet that the Beatles would take America by storm. Lennon (who founded the band and would, years later, be its undoing), Harrison and Starr bet against the Beatles’ fate. In September 1963, Harrison had visited his sister, Louise, in Benton, Illinois. “They don’t know us,” he later told his bandmates about America. “It’s going to be hard.”
Now, as the Beatles headed toward the U.S., “I Want to Hold Your Hand” also occupied the top position on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart, and their first Capitol Records LP, Meet the Beatles!, would head the albums list on February 15th. Lennon, Harrison, McCartney and Starr had been up and about on the plane, talking with friends and companions, including Epstein and producer Phil Spector. “Since America has always had everything,” McCartney said to Spector, “why should we be over there making money? They’ve got their own groups. What are we going to give them that they don’t already have?” Lennon, sitting with his wife, Cynthia, was &ndash as he was throughout his life &ndash a mix of anxiety and arrogance. “On the plane over, I was thinking, ‘Oh, we won’t make it’ &hellip but that’s that side of me,” he later told Rolling Stone‘s Jann S. Wenner. “We knew we would wipe you out if we could just get a grip.”
As the flight landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport &ndash renamed in honor of the recently slain U.S. president &ndash the pilot relayed to the group there was a crowd waiting. The Beatles were used to crowds. For more than a year in Britain, young people had been showing up at their shows screaming in November, London’s Daily Telegraph compared the fans’ intensity to that of Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg rallies. Yet as the plane neared the gate, those aboard grew confused by a massive sound. “We could hear this screaming,” Cynthia Lennon later said. “We thought it was the engines, but the screaming was that of the fans.” As the Beatles disembarked, McCartney glimpsed the tumult and asked, “Who is this for?” The Beatles stopped on the plane’s stairway and took in the sight &ndash 4,000 exhilarated young people, waving jubilantly, amassed behind plate-glass windows, hanging over airport terminal balconies, clustered atop buildings, holding large signs that welcomed the band, as policemen formed lines to hold back the surging crowd. Tom Wolfe &ndash who was covering the Beatles’ arrival for the New York Herald Tribune &ndash reported that “some of the girls tried to throw themselves over a retaining wall.”
McCartney &ndash who had a matchless talent for controlling and timing his facial expressions for effect &ndash looked dazed. “On a scale of one to 10,” he later said of the scene at JFK, “that was about a hundred in terms of the shock of it.”
The Beatles’ momentous American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show two nights later, on February 9th, 1964, blew wide open the doors of the 1960s and drew new borderlines of era and generation across this country. Elvis Presley had shown us something about using rebellious style as a means of change the Beatles would help incite something stronger in American youth that night &ndash something that started as a consensus, as a shared joy, but that in time would seem like the prospect of power. Their impact was about something more than fad or celebrity it was about laying claim to a brand-new kind of youth mandate.
America, though, had not paid attention to the Beatles until almost the last minute. By early 1964, in fact, America had mostly left rock & roll behind. Buddy Holly had died, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry had been blacklisted, Elvis had joined the Army, and pioneering rock DJ Alan Freed had been booted off the air &ndash all these events neutered rock’s early spirit and hindered its future.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney had come of age as rock & roll first exploded. In the summer of 1957, Lennon’s band, the Quarry Men, performed at a church garden party in Liverpool, and McCartney happened to be there. Sixteen-year-old Lennon was introduced to 15-year-old McCartney, who later that day got to show off his own musical prowess: He played Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent songs on guitar, and pulled out his stunning Little Richard impression. John and Paul shared a passion to perform rock & roll, but they were also bonded by tragedy: McCartney’s mother, Mary, died of breast cancer in October 1956, and Lennon’s mother, Julia, was hit by a car and killed in July 1958. Working together, John and Paul found a new place in the world. They wrote songs together, shooting melodic and lyrical ideas back and forth, and even after they began writing apart, each still counted on the other to help finish or improve a song. “Imagine two people pulling on a rope, smiling at each other and pulling all the time with all their might,” producer George Martin told Ray Coleman in Lennon: The Definitive Biography. “The tension between the two of them made for the bond.”
When Brian Epstein &ndash a Liverpool record-store supervisor who was aspiring to a more eventful life &ndash became the group’s manager, he cleaned up the Beatles’ punkness. But he didn’t deny the group its spirit or musical instincts, and his faith soon paid off. At the end of 1962, the Beatles were still something of an obscure, seemingly upstart beat band who, with Epstein’s devotion and the keen instincts of George Martin, had just broken into Britain’s Top 20 with “Love Me Do.” It was catchy but rather monotone Lennon and McCartney weren’t yet distinguished songwriters. That changed rapidly, though, as the Beatles’ next few recordings began a momentum that would forever shatter the American grip on the U.K. pop charts.
Two of these songs, “Please Please Me” and “She Loves You,” were audacious enough to be radical, full of wild, imaginative leaps. Lennon and McCartney borrowed from the music they’d heard through their lives &ndash including British music-hall songs, show-tune ballads, a great deal of country & western, ribald and tough R&B and blues, and whorehouse jazz. The two songwriters &ndash who, Lennon later said, often worked “eyeball to eyeball” &ndash weren’t afraid to set down an almost flat-line melody (often a Lennon feature) and then spread it out into the sort of mellifluous arcs that came naturally to McCartney. They also liked to play despondent and hopeful moments, or major and minor keys, off each other in ways that could be thrilling or evocative, or both in succession.
Then there were the Beatles themselves. They looked like an outsider but elegant band of brothers, dressed in European-cut mod suits, and sporting longer hair &ndash bangs combed forward over the forehead, the back grazing their collars. Everything about their music and attitude bespoke something new: In his book Stoned: A Memoir of London in the 1960s, former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham recalled seeing a gig in the early days of Beatlemania: “The noise they made was the sound of the future,” Oldham wrote. “Even though I hadn’t seen the world, I heard the whole world screaming. I didn’t see it &ndash I heard and felt it.”
By the end of 1963, the Beatles had five singles in Britain’s Top 20, three of which hit Number One. Their debut album, Please Please Me, had held the Number One spot on Britain’s album charts for 30 weeks &ndash to be displaced by the band’s second album, With the Beatles. The band was seen by some of the largest TV audiences the nation had known, played a command performance for the British royal family and was front-page news almost every day in one or another of Britain’s major newspapers. At the end of the year, the London’s Evening Standard newspaper declared, “An examination of the heart of the nation at this moment would reveal the name ‘Beatles’ engraved upon it.”
George Martin &ndash a classically trained musician with an ear for the unconventional &ndash also headed EMI’s Parlophone label. As 1963 progressed, Martin knew he was in the midst of something singular. He saw no reason the Beatles’ compelling success couldn’t be repeated in the U.S., and he and EMI repeatedly tried to persuade its American licensee, Capitol Records, to issue the band’s singles.
But Capitol had no interest. It saw the Beatles as a British curiosity that could not translate to American tastes. Dave Dexter, in charge of international A&R for Capitol, rejected “Love Me Do” after EMI sent it to him in late 1962. “In sum,” wrote Capitol insider Charles Tillinghast in How Capitol Got the Beatles, “[Dexter] found it a generally amateurish and unappealing rendition&hellip He classified it in his mind as a dog, a description he conveyed to any company executive who inquired.” Dexter continued to reject Beatles hits that EMI sent him, including “Please Please Me” and “She Loves You.” Author Jonathan Gould believes that Dexter might have been speaking for Capitol’s “institutionalized distaste for rock & roll.”
Capitol’s ongoing resistance became increasingly frustrating to Martin and Epstein. EMI instead licensed the group’s early singles to independent labels Vee Jay and Swan. Nothing, though, came of those releases. Epstein grew more puzzled and impatient &ndash especially after he received a bid from Sid Bernstein, a New York concert promoter, to book the Beatles in New York’s Carnegie Hall. “I could see what they were,” Bernstein later said, “and they were going to be monsters here.”
Days after the Beatles’ celebrated November 4th, 1963, London appearance at the Royal Command Performance, Epstein left for Manhattan to meet with Ed Sullivan, whose show had run on CBS since 1948. Sullivan &ndash according to his own, possibly apocryphal account &ndash had been at London’s Heathrow Airport on October 31st, when the Beatles returned from Sweden and were met by clamorous fans. Sullivan told his producer: Find out who the Beatles are. By the time Sullivan and Epstein met, the TV impresario knew the band’s legend, but he was surprised by the deal Epstein bargained for. Epstein was willing to accept much less money than Sullivan generally paid acts. What Epstein secured, instead, was an agreement that Sullivan would feature the Beatles &ndash in top billing &ndash on three consecutive Sunday nights in February 1964. To Epstein, the benefits of such exposure far outweighed the importance of immediate money. (Sullivan ended up paying the Beatles $10,000 for two live appearances and a taped rehearsal that was broadcast following the band’s return to England. Years earlier, he had paid Elvis Presley $50,000 for three shows.)
Despite the Ed Sullivan and Carnegie Hall bookings, Capitol still had misgivings. It probably didn’t hearten Capitol when the label began to see the tenor of the American press’s advance coverage. Newsweek and Time regarded the Beatles cynically, as an irksome novelty. In its November 15th article “The New Madness,” Time wrote, “They look like shaggy Peter Pans&hellip The precise nature of their charm remains mysterious even to their manager.” CBS Morning News, on November 22nd, broadcast a vitriolic commentary by journalist Alexander Kendrick, who dismissed the band as “merely the latest objects of adolescent adulation and culturally the modern manifestation of compulsive tribal singing and dancing&hellip They symbolize the 20th century non-hero as they make non-music, wear non-haircuts, give no ‘Mersey.’ Meanwhile, yeah, yeah, yeah, the fan mail keeps rolling in and so does the money.”
But nobody in the American press &ndash nobody in the American public &ndash had any room to think about the Beatles that day. Hours after the report aired, the entire nation’s attention turned to a horrific loss: President John F. Kennedy had been shot to death in Dallas. Kennedy’s presidency had both its triumphs and its troubles, but the impact of having a young man in the presidency &ndash at 43, the youngest ever elected &ndash was immensely galvanizing. His manner and presence symbolized new possibilities and inspired numerous young Americans to more open-minded ideals and to political initiative. “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans,” Kennedy had said in his 1961 in- augural address. Now, that likelihood seemed suddenly and brutally cut down, along with the man who had articulated it. The Beatles’ second album, With the Beatles, had been released in England the same day &ndash a much anticipated event. Two years later, McCartney told reporter Larry Kane, “From my point of view, and a lot of people in England’s point of view, he was the best president that America had had for an awful long time. And he was creating a great image for America, and he seemed to be doing great things.”
A little more than a week after Kennedy’s funeral, the Beatles’ fates in America began to change. According to Jonathan Gould in Can’t Buy Me Love, Capitol Records’ Eastern head, Brown Meggs, was surprised to find an article in The New York Times Magazine, on December 1st, previewing the Beatles and their sensational popularity in Britain. A few days later, another article &ndash this time in show-business weekly Variety &ndash caught Meggs and Capitol Records executives even more off guard. Variety reported that the Beatles most recent single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” had become the first British record to sell a million copies before its release. The band’s previous single, “She Loves You” &ndash which had been rejected by Dexter on behalf of Capitol &ndash had also surpassed a million sales, and the group’s second album, With the Beatles, sold 500,000 copies a week after its release. “This meant,” writes Gould, “that in a market one-third the size of the United States, the Beatles had released as many million-selling singles in 1963 as the entire American recording industry… With a kind of idiot’s delight, it dawned on the men who ran Capitol Records that the rights to sell it in the United States were theirs for the asking.” Capitol now intended to issue “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in mid-January 1964, to be followed within weeks by a version of With the Beatles &ndash to be retitled Meet the Beatles!
But the curiosity of Marsha Albert, a 15-year-old in Silver Spring, Maryland, revised those plans. On December 10th, she saw a rebroadcast of the CBS Morning News report from November 22nd disparaging the Beatles and the frenzy they inspired in England. Albert wanted to hear more of the music. She wrote to a local station, WWDC the disc jockey there, Carroll James, located a flight attendant for a British airline, who brought a copy of the 45 rpm “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on her flight to Washington, D.C.
After the record arrived, James invited Albert to WWDC’s studio. In the early evening of December 17th, Albert announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in America, here are the Beatles, singing ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand.'” “The switchboard just went totally wild,” James later told Bob Spitz in The Beatles: The Biography. Callers &ndash apparently not all of them teenagers, since WWDC was an MOR station &ndash wanted to hear the song again, and again. James told Spitz he “played it again in the next hour, which is something I’d never, ever done before.” After that, he played “I Want to Hold Your Hand” every night that week. The single found its way to other U.S. stations, where it met with similar responses. Capitol pushed the song’s release up to December 26th &ndash requiring pressing plants to work 24 hours a day to meet the demand. The company told receptionists to answer phone calls with the greeting “Capitol Records &ndash the Beatles are coming!” Sales staff had to wear Beatles wigs &ndash being manufactured by the thousands &ndash during workdays in January. Gould reports that the label sent a memo to its regional sales managers: “You’ll find you’re helping to start the Beatle Hair-Do Craze that should be sweeping the country soon.”
By February 1st, the song appeared at Number One on Billboard’s U.S. charts. As described by David Hajdu in his book Positively 4th Street, Bob Dylan was driving on California’s coast when he first heard “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on his car radio. “Did you hear that?” Dylan said to a friend. “Fuck! Man, that was fuckin’ great! Oh, man &ndash fuck!” Dylan later told biographer Anthony Scaduto that, as he continued to hear the Beatles on the radio in early 1964, his admiration grew: “They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid… But I just kept it to myself that I really dug them. Everybody else thought they were for the teeny-boppers, that they were gonna pass right away. But it was obvious to me that they had staying power. I knew they were pointing the direction of where music had to go.”
Here, after America’s long winter of death and shock, was a song offering love, comfort, joy. It opened up a vista of freedom that hadn’t been dreamt before, in a land that had always dreamed of new ways to freedom.
On January 3rd, talk-show host Jack Paar had mildly scooped Ed Sullivan. “I’d seen them in London and had them filmed,” Paar said later. “I never knew these boys would change the history of the world’s music, which they did. I thought it was funny.” The clip &ndash of the Beatles performing “She Loves You” on a London stage &ndash was short and grainy, like something glimpsed in a dream’s haze, which made the moment all the more startling. Sullivan was furious over Paar’s small feat. “Pay them off and get rid of them,” he told a producer, but he soon reconsidered.
Brian Epstein knew that, given both the anticipation and unfamiliarity surrounding the Beatles, first impressions upon their arrival would be crucial. Epstein has sometimes been seen &ndash even by the Beatles &ndash as a naif who left them vulnerable, before his death from a drug overdose in the summer of 1967. Epstein was indeed a sometimes tortured man &ndash Lennon often played on Epstein’s insecurities about his sexuality and his religion, once suggesting Epstein title his autobiography Queer Jew. But the band knew Epstein had done a great deal that was right: He’d found the route to George Martin and EMI, he had pressed tirelessly for Capitol’s advocacy, and he had conceived and won an imaginative and effective deal with Ed Sullivan.
Now, after the Beatles disembarked from their overseas flight, Epstein agreed to their first U.S. press conference, in the Pan Am terminal. Some reporters likely came with the view that the group was a superficial sensation, to be questioned and maybe skewered. But the Beatles liked talking to people &ndash they had a group wit that was quick and that couldn’t be shaken. (Mick Jagger, noting how collectively intimidating the Beatles could be, described them as “the four-headed monster.”) In this first encounter with the Beatles, a few reporters asked questions implying that there was something hyperbolic or fraudulent about the band and its fame &ndash but the suggestion never got a foothold that afternoon. “Are you a little embarrassed by the lunacy you cause?” went the first question. “We like lunatics,” Lennon replied. “You’re in favor of lunacy?”
Moments later, another innuendo: “There’s some doubt that you can sing.”
Lennon, casually examining his shirt’s cuffs, said, “No, we need money first.” Another reporter: “How many are bald, that you have to wear those wigs?”
“Do you know American slang? Are you ‘for real’?”
John: “Come and have a feel.”
Wrote Beatles photographer Dezo Hoffman, “Two hundred hard-boiled reporters who’d come to destroy the Beatles ended up adoring them.” But many in the press remained unconvinced. NBC’s famed anchorman Chet Huntley said, “Like a good little news organization, we sent three cameramen out to Kennedy Airport today to cover the arrival of a group from England known as the Beatles. However, after surveying the film our men returned with, and the subject of that film, I feel there is absolutely no need to show any of that film.”
It wasn’t until after they left the airport that the Beatles allowed themselves to feel any of the wonder of what was happening. In the Maysles brothers’ TV film The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit, McCartney, Starr and Lennon sit in the back seat of a limousine, en route to their Manhattan hotel, with McCartney holding a transistor radio to his ear, listening to a live narrative of their entry into American providence. Horses, carrying mounted policemen, rode alongside their car, like escorts shepherding the Beatles from one age and culture to another. “We thought, ‘Wow! God, we have really made it,'” McCartney recalled. “I remember … the great moment of getting into the limo and putting on the radio, and hearing a running commentary on us: ‘They have just left the airport and are coming towards New York City…’ It was like a dream. The greatest fantasy ever.”
Two nights later, on February 9th, 1964, the Beatles made their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance. Sullivan introduced them in the hour’s opening minutes: “Tonight, the whole country is waiting to hear England’s Beatles.” A camera cut first to the euphoric audience &ndash the show had received 50,000 ticket requests for a theater that held 728 &ndash then to the band. McCartney counted off to “All My Loving,” and the camera pulled in on him: He was beaming, talking to the viewer as much as he was singing &ndash “Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you” &ndash his head wagging back and forth, as Harrison played sharp, thrifty guitar fills.
Throughout most of the evening’s five songs &ndash “All My Loving,” Meredith Willson’s “Till There Was You” (from Broadway’s The Music Man) and “She Loves You” in the first set, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in the second &ndash it was Paul’s show. He was full of cute looks and charming poise. And because Lennon’s microphone was barely audible, it might have seemed to TV viewers that McCartney was the band’s lead vocalist, even during shared vocals with John. For that matter, Paul played to the camera &ndash his winks and smiles knew where the lens was, no matter the camera’s location &ndash whereas John and George played to the theater. The band’s final song of the night, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” was a blockbuster performance &ndash a manifesto of a new creed of confidence and openness. The first time one hears the song, it’s impossible to gauge where the melodic line, harmonic construction, vocal revelation and rhythmic impetus are headed: from colloquial opening, to blues turnaround, through a meditative interim that explodes in an outrageous, soaring exclamation &ndash “I can’t hide! I can’t hide!” &ndash in three-part harmony, Ringo slamming away, until it all detonates again.
The Sullivan appearance drew 73 million viewers &ndash the largest TV audience ever at that time. Virtually overnight, the Beatles announced that not only the music and times were changing, but that we were changing as well. Several critics, though, saw it as a premonition of something worse. New York’s Herald Tribune headlined: BEATLES BOMB ON TV. Newsweek said, “Visually they are a nightmare: tight, dandified Edwardian beatnik suits and great pudding-bowls of hair. Musically they are a near disaster, guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat that does away with secondary rhythms, harmony and melody. Their lyrics (punctuated by nutty shouts of ‘yeah, yeah, yeah!’) are a catastrophe, a preposterous farrago of Valentine-card romantic sentiments.”
On Tuesday, February 11th, the Beatles played for an audience of 8,000 at Washington D.C.’s Washington Coliseum. Despite what might have been an impediment &ndash the band played in a boxing-ring-style stage in the center of the arena’s floor, and had to pause occasionally to move microphones and equipment to different sides of the stage, to be seen and heard by the entire audience &ndash the performance was remarkable. They played with a force, and with a risk, that would not have worked in Sullivan’s domestic-minded environment Starr, in particular, played with a precision and abandon that made plain his centrality in the Beatles’ sound and spirit. In many live shows in these years, Starr was a cymbals man &ndash the sheets of sound cut through the audience’s screams and made it easier for the others in the band to know exactly where they should be in the music.
After the concert, the Beatles attended a charity ball at the British Embassy. It was not the sort of event they relished &ndash kowtowing to the upper crust and power holders &ndash and they began to get edgy from how they were stared at and touched, “like something in a zoo,” said Starr. At one point, somebody walked up to the drummer and snipped his hair. Starr wheeled around on the interloper. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he snapped. Lennon, enraged and swearing, abruptly pulled the Beatles out of the event, and the group warned Epstein never to put it in a similar position again. Years later, the residue of such moments still ate at Lennon. “All that business was awful it was a fuckin’ humiliation,” he told Rolling Stone in 1971. “One has to completely humiliate oneself to be what the Beatles were, and that’s what I resent.” The band’s two shows at Carnegie Hall also left Lennon disillusioned: Even at that distinguished venue, Lennon thought, the audience couldn’t hear the Beatles’ performance because of the fans’ constant yowling. The problem had been building for some time. “The music was dead before we even went out on the theater tour of Britain,” he said in the same 1971 interview. “That’s why we never improved as musicians. We killed ourselves then to make it. And that was the end of it.”
The next day, the Beatles visited Miami Beach (5,000 fans greeted them at the airport) to tape their final live 1964 appearance for Sullivan, at the Deauville Hotel. The audience was more staid, but the sound was much improved. Lennon came through prominently this time as a forefront figure in the band, and for his formidable and taut vocals. (McCartney often had greater range, but in many of the band’s live shows, Lennon was steadier at holding pitch.) More significant, in some ways, than that performance was something else the Beatles did while in town. Heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston and challenger Cassius Clay were preparing for a fight at Miami Beach’s Convention Hall. Liston &ndash a foreboding, seemingly indomitable man &ndash was heavily favored, while Clay, who was loud-talking and disrespectful of his opponent, was expected to be brutally overpowered. Photographer Harry Benson arranged for the Beatles to meet Clay at his training gym &ndash an atypical kind of summit, except that both the Beatles and Clay were regarded as flaming comets of the moment, renowned as anomalies. According to sportswriter Robert Lipsyte, Liston had been given a chance to take a photo with the British group but demurred. “I’m not posing with those sissies,” he said.
Clay was late for the meeting, and the Beatles grew irritated. “Suddenly,” wrote Lipsyte, “the door bursts open and there is the most beautiful creature any of us had ever seen. Muhammad Ali. Cassius Clay. He glowed… he was perfect… And then &ndash if I hadn’t known better I would have sworn it was choreographed &ndash he turned and the Beatles followed him … out to the ring and they began capering around the room. They lined up. He tapped Ringo. They all went down like dominoes. It was a marvelous, antic set piece.” Clay and the Beatles reveled in the joy of their irreverent ascendancy. Benson’s photos capture an early moment of a new history and its new heroes.
Days after returning to England, the Beatles began the filming of their first major movie, A Hard Day’s Night, which would open in 500 theaters in America on August 13th. Many reviewers were astounded at how good the film was. Newsweek, which had earlier viewed the Beatles with contempt, now wrote, “With all the ill will in the world, one sits there, watching and listening &ndash and feels one’s intelligence dissolving in a pool of approbation and participation.” Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and social critic Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who had been a special assistant to President Kennedy, characterized A Hard Day’s Night as a “conspiracy of delinquency against pomposity.” The U.K. version of the soundtrack &ndash the first and only Beatles album composed entirely of Lennon-McCartney songs &ndash showed a new range of artistry. The title track, by Lennon (who dominates the album), bursts open with a startling and unusual chord thrum, then pushes ahead with unrelenting desire. The band was starting to consider more sober themes of longing, absence and bitter regret.
The Beatles certainly had reason to proclaim “A Hard Day’s Night”‘s dead-tired message. In the summer of 1964, they toured seven countries before returning to the U.S., and lived fully &ndash for better or worse &ndash the moments that were given them, as their fame soared. On June 3rd, just before the start of the tour, Ringo Starr collapsed from tonsillitis, and drummer Jimmy Nicol played the first 10 dates, from Copenhagen to Melbourne, Australia. Nicol had a unique vantage: He saw the hidden side. “Paul,” he later said, “is not the clean chap he wants the world to see. His love of blond women and his general dislike of the crowds are not told. John, on the other hand, enjoyed the people, but used his sense of humor to ward off any he didn’t care for. He also drank in excess. In Denmark, for instance, his head was a balloon. He had drunk so much the night before that he was onstage sweating like a pig. George was not shy at all, as the press has tried to paint him. He was into sex as well as partying all night with the rest of us&hellip I thought I could drink and lay women with the best of them, until I caught up with these guys.”
Lennon, the most candid member in the group, affirmed Nicol’s view. “The Beatles tours were like the Fellini film Satyricon,” Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1971. “If we couldn’t get groupies, we would have whores and everything, whatever was going.” He also said, “When we hit town, we hit it. There was no pissing about. There’s photographs of me crawling about in Amsterdam on my knees coming out of whorehouses and things like that. The police escorted me to the places because they never wanted a big scandal.” The Beatles were the first band to live rock & roll bacchanalia on a large scale.
Though Harrison said in February, before departing the U.S., “They’ll never see us again,” the Beatles returned to North America in August for a tour of 24 cities and 32 shows in 34 days. Broadcast reporter Larry Kane published a breathtaking account of the experience, Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles’ 1964 Tour That Changed the World. In Kane’s book, the story is high drama, on the verge of violent and deadly chaos: Crowds awaiting the Beatles surge out of control, a fan gets shoved through plate-glass windows. In Quebec, an anti-British faction threatened the band. “One group of extreme separatists,” reports Kane, “had apparently complained about Ringo Starr, whom they called the ‘English Jew’… Ringo replied with a chuckle to a newspaper reporter, ‘I’m not Jewish. But I am British&hellip'” Kane asked Lennon how the tour’s opening show, at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, felt. “Not safe,” said Lennon. “Can’t sing when you’re scared for your life.”
Prior popular-music idols Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley had also provoked intense reactions, but clamor for the Beatles was much more ardent. “For the girls who participated in Beatlemania,” feminist thinkers Barbara Ehrenreich, Elizabeth Hess and Gloria Jacobs wrote in 1992, “sex was an obvious part of the excitement … It was rebellious (especially for the very young fans) to lay claim to sexual feelings. It was even more rebellious to lay claim to the active, desiring side of a sexual attraction: The Beatles were objects the girls were their pursuers … To assert an active, powerful sexuality by the tens of thousands and to do so in a way calculated to attract maximum attention was more than rebellious. It was, in its own unformulated, dizzy way, revolutionary.”
The same night as their Forest Hills Tennis Stadium show in New York, the Beatles met Dylan. “I’ve never been so excited about meeting any other musician before,” Lennon later said. The Beatles had been fascinated with Dylan since first listening to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan during their January stay in Paris. The artists met in the Beatles’ suite at Manhattan’s Hotel Delmonico. They were, at first, shy with one another. Epstein asked Dylan if he wanted a drink: Dylan asked for cheap wine, and Epstein had to send an assistant out to a local liquor store. Dylan wondered if the Beatles smoked marijuana, and was surprised to learn they had little experience with the drug. Then why, he asked, were they singing “I get high! I get high!” in “I Want to Hold Your Hand”? Lennon embarrassedly explained that they were in fact singing “I can’t hide! I can’t hide!” Dylan had marijuana with him and offered to share it. The band stuffed wet towels at the bottom of the room’s doors, so the drug’s pungent odor couldn’t be detected. Lennon made Starr try the first marijuana cigarette. What did Ringo think, his bandmates wondered. “The ceiling’s coming down on me,” the drummer replied. After that, the rest of the Beatles and Brian Epstein indulged themselves. Soon, McCartney decided, he was “really thinking” in a way he’d never done before. He told the Beatles’ road manager, Mal Evans, that he had found the meaning of life, and instructed Evans to transcribe everything McCartney said that night. (The meaning of life turned out to be “There are seven levels.”) “Till then,” McCartney recalled later, “we’d been hard scotch-and-Coke men.” Marijuana would have bearing on how they heard and made sounds and conveyed ideas, evident by the time of 1965’s Rubber Soul. “We believed in cannabis as a way of life,” said Derek Taylor, the Beatles’ press officer. McCartney later said, “We were kind of proud to have been introduced to pot by Dylan.”
Dylan’s other effect on the Beatles was to help politicize them and broaden their themes and lyrical language. By the time of their final 1964 LP, Beatles for Sale, the group’s music started losing its naiveté and facade of effervescence.
A ll these things happened within eight months after the Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. By the end of 1964, the band placed 28 records in Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart, 11 of them in the Top 10. They also saw 10 albums released worldwide, five of them on Capitol.
It was a fast and matchless epic, though by year’s end strains would begin to set in. After returning to London in late September, Harrison said, “I’m a bit fed up of touring. Not so much in England, but particularly in America, for instance. I feel sure we won’t do another tour of the States for as long as five weeks ever again. It’s so exhausting and not really satisfying.” The relentless pace of travel and recording worked on nerves within the band. In The Beat­les: Off the Record, John Badman relates an incident witnessed by British journalist Ray Coleman in mid-October, backstage in Edinburgh, Scotland, when McCartney tired of hearing his partner’s complaints about the demands on the Beatles’ lives:
Paul (glancing from a TV set in the dressing room): “Hey, I’ve had enough of you blasting off, John.”
John (immediately retorting): “You say what you want to say and I’ll say what I want to say, OK?”
Paul: “You’re bad for my image!”
John: “You’re soft! Shurrup and watch the telly, like a good boy!”
But the affinity between all the Beatles stayed strong for years, nobody could disturb that fraternity. George Martin later wrote, “No one else had gone through what they had no one else understood. They seemed to find a tremendous inspiration from each other’s presence. There was a kind of love between the four of them, some feeling that gave them strength&hellip Although the world had accepted them with open arms, it could also, in many ways, be their enemy.”
No matter what, in 1964 the Beatles weren’t near ready to let go. Perhaps the one question they were most commonly asked in interviews during that year was: How long could it last? Reporters were generally implying that the Beatles’ fame was a fool’s paradise that would vanish almost any day.
The Beatles never answered in a defensive way. They usually said that it would end when it would end &ndash they didn’t expect it to last forever. Discussing the matter with author Michael Braun in the days of Beatlemania, Lennon knew how remarkable their story was he knew what was at stake.
“This isn’t show business. This is something else,” he said. “This is different from anything that anybody imagines. You don’t go on from this. You do this and then you finish.”
Kane, who attended that show, was struck by how well they played. "In person they were astounding," he says. "They could sound just like the records."
By Feb. 22nd, the band was back in the U.K., not to return to the U.S. until August. No matter. They had already insured their legend. During the week of April 4, 1964, the Beatles held the first five slots on the Billboard Singles chart. Their impact created such a demand for music from their homeland, that, by the summer of '64, the British Invasion was in full bloom. One third of all U.S. Top Ten hits of the year were by British acts, from The Dave Clark Five to Billy J. Kramer to Gerry & The Pacemakers. Later came The Animals, The Rolling Stones, Petula Clark, The Troggs, Freddie and the Dreamers and more. For the next six years, The Beatles dominated pop culture, dictating new styles and sounds, innovating until the end. Even their break-up with the new decade, in 1970, hardly diminished their impact. Their approach to melody, production, and to style kept influencing and inspiring new generations to come. It still does.
Never was that more clear than this past October 9th, during a Beatles-related encounter in another part of Queens, mere miles from their initial JFK touchdown. To promote his latest album, Paul McCartney made an appearance at the Frank Sinatra High School of Music. He performed before several hundred teenagers, five decades removed from the ones that gaped and swooned for those Sullivan shows. Their reaction mirrored their forebears exactly, screaming with abandon as McCartney played songs from "Eight Days A Week" to "Hey Jude," with amazing verisimilitude.
15-year-old Alexus Getzelman of College Point told the News she first knew The Beatles' music from her parents. She has since downloaded much of it herself from iTunes. "We all know the songs," Getzelman said of her generation. "And we all love them just as much."
The Beatles arrive in New York for their first U.S. visit (February 7th 1964) [3064 x 2095]
When the plane pulled up and they saw the throngs of people, they actually wondered who the famous person was on the plane, because they didn't realize it was for them!
No English band had ever made it across the pond before. They even had an American musician tour with them, who tried and tried to convince them theyɽ be a big hit in the USA. He even offered to be their American manager.
By the time they decided to do it, scheduling prevented him from being their manager.
Albert Einstein Roy Orbison.
Who are these guys? some indie band?
Kanye discovered McCartney a few years back, I'm not sure who the rest of them are though.
They were originally known as the Quarry Men, then they changed the name and just sort of disappeared. Sad really, lot of potential.
I liked McCartney in Wings. But, what was his band before that?
Interesting story about the beatles bags actually (source)
In 1963 The Beatles arranged a publicity deal with British European Airways (BEA) it was agreed that they would carry BEA(tles) flight bags and were photographed holding them as part of the contract. The Beatles (and their companions) then received three weeks of unlimited air travel between Paris and London. In late August of 1963, John flew with Cynthia Lennon to Paris (on BEA) for a 3-day belated honeymoon.
"The Charbor Chronicles"
Once again, it should be reiterated, that this does not pretend to be a very extensive history of what happened on this day (nor is it the most original - the links can be found down below). If you know something that I am missing, by all means, shoot me an email or leave a comment, and let me know!
Feb 7, 1964: Beatles arrive in New York
On February 7, 1964, Pan Am Yankee Clipper flight 101 from London Heathrow lands at New York's Kennedy Airport--and "Beatlemania" arrives. It was the first visit to the United States by the Beatles, a British rock-and-roll quartet that had just scored its first No. 1 U.S. hit six days before with "I Want to Hold Your Hand." At Kennedy, the "Fab Four"--dressed in mod suits and sporting their trademark pudding bowl haircuts--were greeted by 3,000 screaming fans who caused a near riot when the boys stepped off their plane and onto American soil.
Two days later, Paul McCartney, age 21, Ringo Starr, 23, John Lennon, 23, and George Harrison, 20, made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, a popular television variety show. Although it was difficult to hear the performance over the screams of teenage girls in the studio audience, an estimated 73 million U.S. television viewers, or about 40 percent of the U.S. population, tuned in to watch. Sullivan immediately booked the Beatles for two more appearances that month. The group made their first public concert appearance in the United States on February 11 at the Coliseum in Washington, D.C., and 20,000 fans attended. The next day, they gave two back-to-back performances at New York's Carnegie Hall, and police were forced to close off the streets around the venerable music hall because of fan hysteria. On February 22, the Beatles returned to England.
The Beatles' first American tour left a major imprint in the nation's cultural memory. With American youth poised to break away from the culturally rigid landscape of the 1950s, the Beatles, with their exuberant music and good-natured rebellion, were the perfect catalyst for the shift. Their singles and albums sold millions of records, and at one point in April 1964 all five best-selling U.S. singles were Beatles songs. By the time the Beatles first feature-film, A Hard Day's Night, was released in August, Beatlemania was epidemic the world over. Later that month, the four boys from Liverpool returned to the United States for their second tour and played to sold-out arenas across the country.
Later, the Beatles gave up touring to concentrate on their innovative studio recordings, such as 1967's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, a psychedelic concept album that is regarded as a masterpiece of popular music. The Beatles' music remained relevant to youth throughout the great cultural shifts of the 1960s, and critics of all ages acknowledged the songwriting genius of the Lennon-McCartney team. In 1970, the Beatles disbanded, leaving a legacy of 18 albums and 30 Top 10 U.S. singles.
During the next decade, all four Beatles pursued solo careers, with varying success. Lennon, the most outspoken and controversial Beatle, was shot to death by a deranged fan outside his New York apartment building in 1980. McCartney was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 for his contribution to British culture. In November 2001, George Harrison succumbed to cancer.
Feb 7, 1992: European Union treaty signed
After suffering through centuries of bloody conflict, the nations of Western Europe finally unite in the spirit of economic cooperation with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty of European Union. The treaty, signed by ministers of the European Community, called for greater economic integration, common foreign and security policies, and cooperation between police and other authorities on crime, terrorism, and immigration issues. The agreement also laid the groundwork for the establishment of a single European currency, to be known as the "euro." By the time the Maastricht Treaty took effect in 1993, it had been ratified by 12 nations: Great Britain, France, Germany, the Irish Republic, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Since then, Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Sweden, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia have also joined the union. The euro was introduced into circulation on January 1, 2002.
Feb 7, 1990: Soviet Communist Party gives up monopoly on political power
The Central Committee of the Soviet Union's Communist Party agrees to endorse President Mikhail Gorbachev's recommendation that the party give up its 70-year long monopoly of political power. The Committee's decision to allow political challenges to the party's dominance in Russia was yet another signal of the impending collapse of the Soviet system.
At the end of three days of extremely stormy meetings dealing with economic and political reforms in the Soviet Union, the Central Committee announced that it was endorsing the idea that the Soviet Communist Party should make "no claim for any particular role to be encoded in the Constitution" that was currently being rewritten. The proposal was but one of many made by President Gorbachev during the meetings. Critics of Gorbachev's plan charged that dissipating the Communist Party's power would erode the gains made since the Bolshevik Revolution and would weaken the international stature of the Soviet Union. Supporters, however, carried the day--they noted the impatience of the Soviet people with the slow pace of change and the general pessimism about the crumbling economy under communist rule. As one Communist Party official noted, "Society itself will decide whether it wishes to adopt our politics." However, he was also quick to add that the move by the Central Committee did not mean that the Communist Party was removing itself from public affairs. Many foreign observers stressed that even in a new pluralistic political system in Russia, the well-established party would have immense advantages over any challengers.
The response from the United States was surprise and cautious optimism. One State Department official commented that, "The whole Soviet world is going down the drainpipe with astonishing speed. It's mind-boggling." Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger indicated that he was "personally gratified and astonished that anyone would have the chance to say such things in Moscow without being shot." President George Bush was more circumspect, merely congratulating President Gorbachev for his "restraint and finesse."
Ironically, the fact that the Communist Party was willing to accept political challenges to its authority indicated how desperately it was trying to maintain its weakening power over the country. The measures were little help, however--President Gorbachev resigned on December 25, 1991 and the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist on December 31, 1991.
Feb 7, 1775: Benjamin Franklin publishes "An Imaginary Speech"
In London on this day in 1775, Benjamin Franklin publishes An Imaginary Speech in defense of American courage.
Franklin's speech was intended to counter an unnamed officer's comments to Parliament that the British need not fear the colonial rebels, because "Americans are unequal to the People of this Country [Britain] in Devotion to Women, and in Courage, and worse than all, they are religious."
Franklin responded to the three-pronged critique with his usual wit and acuity. Noting that the colonial population had increased while the British population had declined, Franklin concluded that American men must therefore be more "effectually devoted to the Fair Sex" than their British brethren.
As for American courage, Franklin relayed a history of the Seven Years' War in which the colonial militia forever saved blundering British regulars from strategic error and cowardice. With poetic flare, Franklin declared, "Indiscriminate Accusations against the Absent are cowardly Calumnies." In truth, the colonial militias were notoriously undisciplined and ineffective at the beginning of the Seven Years' War. New Englanders, unused to taking orders and unfamiliar with the necessary elements of military life, brought illness upon themselves when they refused to build latrines and were sickened by their own sewage. During the American Revolution, Washington repeated many of the same complaints spoken by British officers when he attempted to organize American farmers into an effective army.
With regard to religion, Franklin overcame his own distaste for the devout and reminded his readers that it was zealous Puritans that had rid Britain of the despised King Charles I. Franklin surmised that his critic was a Stuart [i.e. Catholic] sympathizer, and therefore disliked American Protestants, "who inherit from those Ancestors, not only the same Religion, but the same Love of Liberty and Spirit."
Feb 7, 1898: Zola is brought to trial
On this day in 1898, French writer Emile Zola is brought to trial for libel for "J'Accuse," his newspaper editorial attacking the French army over the Dreyfus affair.
On January 13, Zola had published his editorial in the newspaper L'Aurore. The letter exposed a military cover-up regarding Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus, a French army captain, had been accused of espionage in 1894 and sentenced in a secret military court-martial to imprisonment in a South American penal colony. Two years later, evidence of Dreyfus' innocence surfaced, but the army suppressed the information. Zola's letter exposed the military's mistaken conviction.
Zola was a well-known writer who had published his first story collection more than three decades earlier. A high school dropout, he had worked in the sales department of a major French publisher, who encouraged his writing and published his first book. He became one of the most famous writers in France with the publication of his 1877 hit, The Drunkard, part of his 20-novel cycle exploring the lives of two families.
Zola's letter provoked national outrage on both sides of the issue, among political parties, religious organizations, and others. Supporters of the military sued Zola for libel. He was convicted and sentenced to one year's imprisonment, but he fled France. In 1899, Dreyfus was pardoned, but for political reasons he was not exonerated until 1906. Shortly after Dreyfus' pardon, Zola returned to France, where he died in 1902.
Here's a more detailed look at events that transpired on this date throughout history:
The Beatles in 1964
In February 1964, the Beatles took America by storm, and rock 'n' roll was never the same. AP reporters covering the band's Feb. 7 arrival at New York's Kennedy Airport and their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" two days later never failed to mention John, Paul, George and Ringo's long hair, or the screaming teenage girls who followed them wherever they went.
Beatles Arrive In NYC
The Beatles arrive at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (formerly Idlewild), in New York, Feb. 7, 1964. From left: John Lennon (waving), Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. (AP Photo)
In covering the airport arrival, AP reporter Arthur Everett goes to great lengths to use contemporary slang like "way out" and "fab." And he quotes female fans as shouting "We want beatniks!" Might it have been "We want Beatles!"? The story on the Sullivan show appearance focuses on the scene, making scant mention of the band's music. In a separate review, AP television-radio writer Cynthia Lowry allows that the boys "sing close harmony." But she is put off by their hairdos, and declares that the appeal of the Liverpudlians remains a mystery to an "elderly viewer." (Lowry was in her early 50s at the time.)
Fifty-one years after their original publication, these reports appear below alongside photos from the Associated Press photo archive.
BEATLES LAND IN NEW YORK
Briatin Paul McCartney
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 1964, file photo, three members of the Beatles pose on a stack of rowboats in New York's Central Park. From the top are: Ringo Starr, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. McCartney turned 70 Monday June 18, 2012. (AP Photo)
The Beatles leave London airport in 1964. From left: John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. (AP Photo)
Police hold back London fans of the Beatles, 1964. (AP Photo)
Greet The Beatles 1964
Fans of the British rock band The Beatles scream from behind police barricades at New York's Kennedy Airport, Feb. 7, 1964. (AP Photo)
New York Beatles Fans
Police man the barricades outside New Yorkís Plaza Hotel, on Feb. 7, 1964, as Beatle maniacs push forward in hopes of a view of Britainís singing sensations after their arrival for an American tour. (AP Photo)
NEW YORK, Feb. 7 (AP) — Britain's way out Beatles, equipped with rag mop hairdos and guitars, invaded the colonies today. Thousands of delirious teen-aged native girls paid them wild tribal homage when they landed at Kennedy airport.
"I love them, I love them," shrieked one junior miss, teetering on the verge of emotional collapse. A singing quartet of British youth, the Beatles are all the rage - or rather "fab" for fabulous - on the tight little isle, and their fame has spread to America via best-selling recordings. Now they are here in person for a series of sold-out public appearances.
The Beatles collectively are sort of a sheep dog version of Elvis Presley — the adulation they arouse in reminiscent of the grip the American star once held on the juvenile population.
However, when a newsman described them to their faces — or the visible portions thereof — as "four Elvis Presleys," they replied in unison: "Not True."
As the Beatles left their transatlantic airliner shortly after noon, 5,000 school-skipping American fans stormed police barricades, pelted the quartet with jelly beans and candy kisses, and screamed: "We want beatniks! We want beatniks!"
Behind them, with their departure from London, the Beatles left a pack of British teen-age girls, awash in tears, keening forlornly and twisting sodden hankies in anguished farewell.
But accustomed as they are to the weird worship rites attending their every appearance, the Beatles were shocked into momentary immobility as they left their plane to face the American horde. They recovered enough to wave, mug and dance a small jig for their panting audience.
"It's marvelous," Beatle Paul McCartney, 21, later told a news conference. "It's fantastic! We've never seen or had anything like this before. It's the best ever."
There was some small measure of mild dissent amid the joyous welcoming uproar that kept 100 policemen on edge at the airport. One sign on display read: "Beatles go home!" and another proclaimed: "We love Beethoven."
At the news conference the Beatles were informed that a "stamp out the Beatles" movement is under way in Detroit.
"We're going to start a campaign to stamp out Detroit," was their rejoinder.
As for Beethoven, Beatle Ringo Starr, 23, conceded that "he's beat - especially his poems."
The Beatles’ American invasion begins
7 February 1964 was the day The Beatles’ American invasion began. The band’s Boeing 707, Pan Am flight 101, left London Airport early on the morning of 7 February 1964, bound for New York City.
Also on the flight were The Beatles, Brian Epstein, Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans, plus dozens of journalists and photographers.All we knew was that a couple of the records had done well in the States. We believed there was still a huge mountain to climb if The Beatles were really to make it there.
At Heathrow there was pandemonium. Thousands of fans had arrived from all over Britain and any ordinary passengers hoping to travel that day had to give up. Screaming, sobbing girls held up ‘We Love You, Beatles’ banners and hordes of police, linking arms in long chains, held them back. We were ushered into a massive press conference, where journalists, spotting me at the side of the room, demanded a picture of John and me together. To my surprise John agreed. He was usually careful to keep Julian and me away from publicity, but this time, carried along by the momentum of the whole thing, he agreed.
Minutes later we were ushered to the plane. At the top of the steps the boys waved to the packed airport terraces as the screams crescendoed.
The aeroplane touched down at JFK Airport at 1.20pm to scenes never seen before.
At first The Beatles found it hard to believe the reception at JFK was for them.
Five thousand fans, mostly young girls, were crowded onto the upper balcony of the airport’s arrivals building, waving placards and banners to welcome the group. A further 200 reporters, photographers and cameramen from radio, television and the press were also clamoring for The Beatles’ attention.
The promotion was actually due to Seltaeb, The Beatles’ US merchandising organisation run by Nicky Byrne, which had been approved by Brian Epstein to oversee and collect the royalties for the group’s non-musical products in America.
Byrne had struck a deal with the WMCA and WINS radio stations, in which every fan who turned up at JFK would be given one dollar and a free Beatles t-shirt. Unbeknown to Byrne, Capitol had also arranged for posters and car stickers, bearing the legend ‘The Beatles are coming’, to be distributed throughout New York City.
Murray the K, a DJ at the 1010 WINS radio station, had announced the details of The Beatles’ flight number and time of arrival. The information was repeated by rival stations WABC and WMCA, which only increased the already feverish anticipation.
It Was Fifty Years Ago Today - The Day Beatlemania Went Stateside
Paul: "There were millions of kids at the airport, which nobody had expected. We heard about it in mid-air. There were journalists on the plane, and the pilot had rang ahead and said, 'Tell the boys there's a big crowd waiting for them.' We thought, 'Wow! God, we really have made it.' "
Today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' US debut. On this date in 1964, The Beatles flew together across the Atlantic for the first time, in hopes of cracking the USA - something no British band had yet managed to do. By the time the third and last of their first Beatles Ed Sullivan broadcasts aired - a little more than two weeks after their arrival - the band would be back home, having made broadcasting history and their trip as a whole a phenomenal and unprecedented success.
To commemorate The Beatles' seminal first US visit, from now until 23rd February we'll be posting on Facebook each day about the significant events that led to Beatlemania spreading across the States. Check-in daily for photos and video from the tour, and the story of how The Beatles managed to accomplish what then had seemed impossible to do - making it in the USA. Today, we've posted some original news footage covering their arrival, and yesterday we posted the backstory behind their visit. Check back tomorrow to read about their second day in New York City and the Ed Sullivan rehearsals they had to do without George - who had came down with flu the night before: https://www.facebook.com/thebeatles
You can also take a tour through the bands' whole 1964 journey from obscurity to record-breaking success in the USA via our commemorative website. There, you can get the inside story of each major event from the visit. We've uploaded photos and original film footage, too, and will be uploading more throughout the next couple of weeks: usalbums.thebeatles.com