The Beatles Arrive in America 1964
The Beatles Arrive in America 1964 – “Ladies and Gentleman… The Beatles!” Ed Sullivan introduced The Beatles for the first time on February 9, 1964 for their first live performance in America.
It seems impossible to remember a time when the Beatles weren’t part of Americans’ lives. 50 years ago, on Feb. 7, 1964, as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr boarded Pan Am Flight 101 in London for their first U.S. go to, they had little idea what lay in store for them. The British Invasion had begun.
John calculated the Beatles’ odds as the airplane started its descent. He gazed dolefully at the seat back in front of him, clutching the hand of his spouse Cynthia. There were many variables that would determine their success whether “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” released in late December, would sustain its preliminary impact in the United States; how tickets there were selling for their upcoming shows; whether their looks on The Ed Sullivan Show would capture the imagination of American teens.
Sure Beatlemania had currently clutched Britain, however would anybody in the U.S. even care? Minutes before landing, information filtered from the cockpit with the airplane that assisted to put their minds at ease. As Paul remembered it: “The pilot had called ahead and stated, ‘Tell the boys there are huge crowds waiting for them.
From the air, the terminals looked tense and alive. A swarm of locusts? No. Wall-to-wall screaming fans, who had actually scrambled over barricades and fences to obtain a take there first look at the Beatles. Applause and cheers broke out inside the aircraft. Just before 1:30 p.m., Flight 101 taxied to a stop outside the terminal and the airplane door popped open. A surge of cheers and screams rang out as the crowd stormed forward.
“We heard that our records were selling well in America,” George noted (Capitol revealed that they were the fastest-selling in the label’s history), “however it wasn’t until we stepped off the airplane … that we understood exactly what was going on. Seeing countless fans at the airport to greet us made us understand simply how popular we really are in the USA.”
Reporters were everywhere and had been awaiting hours to cover these British chaps. More than 200 reporters were crammed into Pan Am’s smoke-filled lounge, fussing about their lousy assignment, when the Beatles finally paraded into the room. Like a cavalry charge, the reporters opened fire, question after question without letup, until the press room simply merged into babble. Brian Sommerville, the band’s new press officer, attempted desperately to enforce some order but ultimately succumbed yelling back. “All right then. Shut up!” he insisted. “Just stopped talking!”
It went on like that for practically an hour, a spontaneous Abbott and Costello– type regimen, with the cynical press corps as prepared straight men. Whatever the press had gotten out of these Brits, it was totally unprepared for what they got. The Beatles were irresistible; they made fantastic copy.
As everyone prepared to moving towards the exits, Paul commandeered the mike. “We have a message,” he announced with excellent importance. The reporters flipped their note pads back open, as photographers pressed in to get the crucial shot. “Our message is: Buy more Beatles records!”
“We were so overawed by American radio,” John admitted. In England there was only one station the stodgy BBC, which generally overlooked the type of music the Beatles yearned for. Unexpectedly it was all at their fingertips, a continuous jukebox of those American R&B hits they ‘d been listening too like Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, the Shirelles, the Ronettes and sandwiched in between each 2 a Beatles record!
By the time the Beatles’ vehicle made its means from JFK to Manhattan, word was out and screaming fans had begun to mob the posh Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue, where the boys were revealed to a large 10-room suite on the 12th floor with commanding views of Central Park. To the Beatles, it was heaven, a TV in every room, a completely equipped bar, no end of luxuries and absolutely no place to go. The fans outside had actually blocked the boys in, making any adventure simply foolhardy. The walkways in front of the building was a solid block of humanity. Chants of “We want the Beatles! We want the Beatles!” screamed their adoring fans.