Published On: Sat, Feb 7th, 2015

This Day in History: Beatles arrives in America, ‘Beatlemania’ begins

A flight from London just over fifty years ago today changed America and the world as we know. It was Feb. 7, 1964 when the Pan Am Yankee Clipper landed from Heathrow to Kennedy Airport in New York that launched “Beatlemania.”

The 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.” The “Fab Four,” dressed in mod suits and sporting their trademark bowl haircuts were greeted by 3,000 screaming fans who caused a near riot when the boys stepped off their plane

The Beatles wave to fans after arriving at Kennedy Airport on February 7, 1964

The Beatles wave to fans after arriving at Kennedy Airport on February 7, 1964

By 1965, the unprecedented demand for the Beatles’ live performances led to the birth of stadium rock, which debuted with their summer concert at Shea Stadium.

Paul McCartney, age 21, Ringo Starr, 23, John Lennon, 23, and George Harrison, 20, made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show two days later.

Screaming girls in the audience drowned out some of the performance, but approximately 73 million U.S. televisions (about 40 percent of the U.S. population) tuned in to watch.

Sullivan immediately booked the Beatles for two more appearances that month.

Photograph of The Beatles as they arrive in New York City in 1964   photo/Library of Congress

Photograph of The Beatles as they arrive in New York City in 1964
photo/Library of Congress

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.

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.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

Displaying 2 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. John Thomson says:

    Indeed a great day when they arrived in the US. But of course, Beatlemania started a bit before that. This piece reads kind of like ‘Beatle History For Dummies’.

  2. Laura Salovitch says:

    What is there about which to comment, really? They changed history and I, for one, am grateful.

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