One year that started with the release of The Beatles first U.S single “Please Please Me” and their arrival at JFK Airport in New York
On this day in 1963 and 1964 The Beatles changed the American musical and cultural landscape forever
Originally a John Lennon composition (credited to Lennon–McCartney), the single “Please Please Me” was released in the UK on 11 January 1963 and reached No. 1 on the New Musical Express and Melody Maker charts. Looking back at composing the song, Lennon recalled: “I remember the day I wrote it, I heard Roy Orbison doing ‘Only the Lonely’, or something. And I was also always intrigued by the words to a Bing Crosby song that went, ‘Please lend a little ear to my pleas’. The double use of the word ‘please’. So it was a combination of Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby”. The song was played during the recording sessions for their first album, and in the opinion of producer George Martin, “At that stage ‘Please Please Me’ was a very dreary song. It was like a Roy Orbison number, very slow, bluesy vocals. It was obvious to me that it badly needed pepping up. I told them to bring it in next time and we’d have another go at it.” He asked the Beatles to consider making major changes to it, including increasing its tempo. By the time it was brought back into the studio on 26 November 1962, its arrangement had been radically altered, and it took 18 takes to record what George Martin immediately predicted would be their first major hit, that was also one of the reasons the album was titled after the song. The single was finally released in the U.S on February 7, 1963, by small label Vee-Jay after being refused by Capitol and Atlantic, and it failed to make an impact in the American market that back then wasn’t open to foreign or European bands. Coincidentally, exactly one year after the single was released in the U.S, on February 7, 1964, The Beatles landed on the JFK Airport in New York for the first time, and waiting for them was a crowd of over 5,000 hysterical fans, the Beatlemania had started in America and was about to reach it’s pinnacle when the band later performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. The band had just scored its first No. 1 U.S. hit six days before with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” 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 English band were at the time the perfect catalyst for an American youth who wanted to break free from the strict and conservative 1950’s, in a historical context, they opened a door that would impact the whole 1960’s decade, musically and culturally and would cause ripples worldwide. Soon after, the American market started to open for other English bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Animals among others, in what was named “The British Invasion”
Look back at this archive footage showing some highlights of The Beatles arriving to America in 1964
Look back at The Beatles performing “Please Please Me” live in Washington, 1964
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