The Fab Four from Liverpool with their mop tops and love songs took teenybopper America by absolute storm when 48 years ago, Feb. 7, 1964, John, Paul, George and Ringo landed in JFK airport in New York to begin their first US tour in what has gone down in music history as “The British Invasion.”
Originally the group was formed in the late 50s by John Lennon (then only a teenager) but the band would under go some serious changes before it would become the sensation we know today as The Beatles. Paul McCartney joined Lennon in ’57 and George Harrison came along shortly after. At that time they were called The Quarrymen. Lennon’s friend and other member of the band, Stu Sutcliffe, was the one to suggest they call themselves The Beetles. The name itself went through a few variations before becoming The Beatles in 1960. The group was a five piece band still and didn’t have a fulltime drummer. After a musical residency inHamburg,Germany, where they played all night long at clubs, Sutcliffe decided to leave the band and pursue art school inGermany. The Beatles were now a four piece band. In ’62 Ringo Starr came on as drummer and The Fab Four were finally united.
After a successfulUnited Kingdomtour in ’63, The Beatles planned to jump the pond and try their wings over here in the states. After some issues with releases of their songs, the boys’ manager, Brian Epstein, went all out on a $40,000 marketing campaign and got DJ Carrol James to play their songs in December ‘63. From there they spread like wild fire and, to the surprise of theUSindustry, the nation’s youth couldn’t get enough.
So February 7 1964 found Liverpool’s own waving goodbye to their UK fans and boarding a plane bound for new territory where they weren’t sure still how they would be received. To their delight they were greeted much the same as they had been wished well when they departed theUK, with thunderous applause from roughly 3,000 fans! And so began their firstUStour! Only two days later they performed on the Ed Sullivan Show and were seen by about 74 million viewers. Though critics were still not convinced, the young people of the day were swept into Beatlemania. Before the end of the month they would have several hugely successful concerts, in such venues as Carnegie Hall in NYC, and return to the Ed Sullivan show for another live television performance.
It was clear that theUSAloved The Beatles.
By this point in the timeline only two albums had been released, Please Please Me and With The Beatles, but the end of ’64 would see two more albums, A Hard Day’s Night and Beatles for Sale. ’65 would bring Help! and Rubber Soul, and ’66 was the year of Revolver. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band followed in ’67 and ’68 saw the classic White Album. 1969, that iconic and infamous year was the year of both Yellow Submarine and Abbey Road and the last album that The Beatles did together was the Let It Be album in 1970.
Each Beatles member found individual success after they went their separate ways and remain to this day social and musical icons. Sir John Lennon cause quite the ruckus over here and became a driving force in many social movements, peace rallies, schools of thought and music till his death in December 1980 when he was shot and killed just outside his home in NYC. George Harrison passed away from lung cancer in 2001 and still holds the 11th spot in Rolling Stone Magazine’s“100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” Harrison’s legacy of humanitarian aid is also still present and strong in his estate contributions to the United Nations Children’s Fund. Sir Paul is still a prolific song writer and performer. He is listed in The Guinness Book of World records as the “most successful musician and composer in popular music history.” Ringo Starr has achieved success not only with his solo music career but also as an actor and voice actor. (Fun Fact: Ringo Starr narrated the first two series of the children’s show Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends and portrayed “Mr. Conductor” during the first season of PBS’s Shining Time Station.) In 1988 The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone in our culture who has not been influenced or even just exposed to The Beatles in some capacity. I mean, the first song I learned on the guitar was “Yesterday” and I thought everyone danced around their house to “Twist and Shout” when they were 5 years old. And I have to admit, when Sir Paul played that halftime show on Feb 7, 2005 (oh hey, look at that!) and the entire stadium was joined in that beautiful chorus of na-na-na’s from Hey Jude, I believed that world peace was not only possible, but I could help make it happen. Whether you’re the go-to person for Beatles trivia, or you saw Across The Universe one time or you’ve been lucky enough to experience Cirque du Soleil’s Love, I think we can all agree that The Beatles have left a lasting and meaningful impression on each of us and on the World.
In loving memory of Stephen E. Saunders (1990-2012)
Who did the best Liverpool accent and loved The Beatles.
“Here Comes The Sun”
Logo photo by Justine Impressions http://www.justineimpressions.com/