On This Day: Beatlemania arrives in America as Fab Four land in New York after becoming first British band to conquer U.S. charts

Julian Gavaghan

FEB 7, 1964: Beatlemania hit the U.S. after the Fab Four arrived in New York on this day in 1964 and were greeted by pandemonium.

The Beatles – the first British band to conquer the American charts - were met by 3,000 screaming fans as they touched down at John F Kennedy Airport.

A British Pathé newsreel showed the hysteric crowd of mostly teenage schoolgirls carrying placards with messages such as 'I love you, please stay'.

At a press conference, which was delayed by half an hour due to the continuing din of noise, a reporter asked if they would sing.

Band members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr collectively cried: 'No!'

Lennon, who had always been the most provocative and at odds with pop stardom, then jokingly retorted: 'No, we need money first.'

The U.S. press clearly did not know what to make of the wisecracking Liverpudlians and were bewildered by their cool detachment and mop-like hair.











But American teens, who had just sent I Want to Hold Your Hand to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, were clearly in awe of this new wave of rock and roll and style.

That evening, a CBS Evening News correspondent made two new phrases popular by saying: 'The British Invasion this time goes by the code name Beatlemania.'

Two days later, The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, which was watched by a then record 73million Americans.


[On This Day: Beatles’ first Cavern Club slot]


So many people tuned in that it caused crime that evening to tumble to a 50-year low – and the programme still has the second highest ratings in history

As predicted by CBS, the Beatles’ first American tour did indeed launch a British invasion – a cultural one at any rate.

The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who – bands that had once been ignored by U.S. radio stations - became popular in the country that gave the world rock and roll.

On top of that British movies also turned trendy – with UK films scooping four Oscars during the 1960s.

So too did Britain’s fashion, with The Beatles’ destinictive 'Mod' outfits, mini skirts and other styles from 'Swinging London' challenging American conventions.

The band’s success ensured they were awarded MBEs by the Queen at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace the following year.

[On This Day: The Beatles release hit song, ‘Yesterday’]


By then, though, they were used to the customary gridlock that followed their appearances as thousands of fans tried to catch a glimpse.

The pop sensations went on to become the biggest-selling artists of all time.

Incredibly, though, their biggest hit, Yesterday, was not released in Britain until after the band split because the members thought the McCartney song was too 'different'.

Some experts have credited the success of the Fab Four, who formed in 1960, to the record 10,000 hours they spent performing during their first four years.

This included stints in Hamburg when they would play for eight hours a night for seven days a week in small, dingy clubs.

After 1964, the Beatles routinely performed to sell-out stadium crowds of screaming girls, who often drowned out their singing.

The effect made the band decide to stop touring and they performed their last commercial concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 29, 1966.

[On This Day: Beatles receive gongs at Buckingham Palace]


From then on they concentrated on making music and it was during this era that they produced their most critically acclaimed albums.

In 1967, they released Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is widely considered to be the best collection of songs of all time.

In 1969 they gave an impromtu performance on the rooftop of Apple Studios in London’s Savile Row.

They produced five more albums – Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be – before they broke up in April 1970.

Lennon had been unhappiest in the Beatles and – encouraged by his Japanese wife Yoko Ono - wanted to go on and produce edgier, more political music.

He moved to New York City in 1971, which led to U.S. President Richard Nixon trying to deport the rebellious singer over his anti-Vietnam War activism.

His first solo album – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – of 1970 embodied his personality and views.

It included the tracks Working Class Hero and God, in which, as well as deriding religion as 'a concept by which we measure our pain', he proclaimed 'I don’t believe in Beatles.'

[On This Day: IRA launch mortar attack on Downing Street]


McCartney, Harrison and Starr also went on to have solo careers – and they never performed together again.

Lennon was shot dead on the street in New York in December 1980, wile Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001.

McCartney and Starr remain musically active.