Personalities | The Beatles | The Beatlemania Era (1964) | Key Events


First US No. 1

When ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ shot to No. 1 in the Cashbox chart on 18 January, having leapt from No. 43 to the top slot, The Beatles were in Paris on a three-week run at the Olympia, staying at the grandiose George V Hotel where they were also writing songs for their forthcoming feature film. A telegram from Capitol Records announcing the triumph was initially greeted with stunned silence and disbelief … and then a party that started with a pillow fight and got a lot wilder. The impeccably attired Brian Epstein even allowed himself to be photographed with a chamber pot on his head. Paul McCartney: ‘We didn’t come down for a week.’


Arrival in New York

Pan Am flight 101 to New York carrying The Beatles and their entourage, including Cynthia Lennon making her first ‘official’ engagement as John’s wife, left Heathrow Airport on 7 February with radio stations across America broadcasting regular bulletins on its progress. When they emerged from the plane at JFK Airport they were greeted by 5,000 fans, 200 journalists waiting to ask questions and a group of photographers dangling off a fork-lift truck. At the Plaza Hotel they were trapped on the twelfth floor listening to non-stop Beatles music on their transistor radios and watching their arrival on TV. Later, Paul McCartney slipped out to the Playboy Club while Ringo Starr and Mr and Mrs Lennon were taken to the Peppermint Lounge which was not the ‘Home of the Twist’ as they’d been promised but home to a Beatles tribute band.

The Ed Sullivan Show

The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on 9 February was a defining moment in American rock’n’roll history. It drew a TV audience of over 70 million, including Alice Cooper, Billy Joel, Joey Ramone, Tom Petty and Joe Walsh who have all remembered how it changed their lives. The ‘Fab Four’ opened the show with ‘All My Loving’, ‘Till There Was You’ and ‘She Loves You’, returning later to play ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. They didn’t close the show, though. That honour went to ‘acrobatic physical comedy’ act Wells & The Four Fays.

First American Concerts

Between their two Ed Sullivan shows, The Beatles played their first American concerts, at the 10,000 capacity Washington Coliseum and the prestigious New York Carnegie Hall. The only sour note of their US visit came when they attended a reception at the British Embassy in Washington and were jostled boorishly by Embassy staff for autographs. One woman even tried to cut off a lock of Ringo’s hair.

American Hits Pile Up

The success of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, selling five million copies during its seven-week stay at No. 1, provoked a feeding frenzy among the labels that had previously released Beatles singles without success. Swan Records reissued ‘She Loves You’ that promptly went to No. 1 for two...

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