The first wave of the BRITISH INVASION: The arrival of THE BEATLES.
What ELVIS did for our older brothers and sisters, a newer group did it for us younger folks. The Beatles on Ed Sullivan changed everything.
Ask anyone who remembers seeing/hearing/experiencing “it”. Overnight the vocal groups, the Doo Wop street corner guys, the girl groups, the lounge acts, virtually disappeared as they were no longer en vogue.
From that fateful February Sunday evening, we, the youngsters of ‘64 had The British Invasion groups bombarding our radio airwaves and appearing on all the variety shows, whether their hosts wanted the bands or not. Teens, mostly those who had little if any understanding of ELVIS, had something to stick “our” teeth into. Within a few weeks, The Beatles three appearances on The Sullivan Show had changed the course of our world. No longer were “we” revolving around the Sun (records) but rather on a NEW path, a new orbit, one we had chosen and that orbit was The Fab Four.
As the weeks progressed we discovered other “planets”; The Rolling Stones (on The Hollywood Palace), The Animals, The KinKs and more, oh, so much more. Radio playlists changed immediately as The Beatles and those other BRITISH INVADERS took over the POP charts.
Some say it was the Assassination of our beloved President JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY which surrounded the Nation in a national funk that somehow brought THE BEATLES to stardom in the U.S.
Some say we needed an escape, a diversion, and these four lads from Liverpool were the escape. Yet, I’m not buying it. My reasoning is simple. First,we, the American record buying public came many months late to the BEATLES party, having not accepted their first few records, these same records which were huge hits across the pond.
Secondly, the time was ripe for a new (television) hero for the “youngsters” as Ed Sullivan would call us. The biggest show on TV at that time was the BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, a preposterous show which made a ratings killing week after week, and that show having their biggest week just prior to The Beatles first appearance. Americans were enamored with television. And Ed Sullivan was considered a religious experience every Sunday night. Like Sunday morning mass in a Catholic household, one couldn’t miss Sullivan on Sunday nights, it would be sinful.
So here goes my thesis:
Prior to Sullivan (one year before) The BEATLES had 3 releases in States, all which were misses, that is NO HITS, no charting…zero.
Those records were
PLEASE PLEASE ME- February 1963(VEEJAY RECORDS)
FROM ME TO YOU-May 1963(VEEJAY RECORDS)
SHE LOVES YOU-September 1963(SWAN RECORDS)which had limited if any airplay.
In early November 1963 after Sullivan witnessed the impact of the lads in their home turf England, and how their audiences responded, BRIAN EPSTEIN,The BEATLES manager, persuades Mr. Sunday Night Television ED SULLIVAN to have THE BEATLES do three consecutive weekly performance on Sullivan’s top rated American CBS television show.
Never before had any act accomplished three consecutive appearance on Sullivan, let alone an “unknown” act. CAPITOL RECORDS (US) smelling something good is happening picks up the BEATLES EMI option just as The CBS Morning News (Sullivan’s network) aired a segment on BEATLEMANIA, the morning of November 22, 1963, which they have ready to repeat it on their nationally syndicated CBS NIGHTLY NEWS.
However, regular programming was cancelled as JFK was assassinated that day and THE BEATLES piece did NOT air that evening.
THE BEATLES and their manager become very anxious as they await their coming to America in a few months for three consecutive weeks no less without a hit record. This could mean a disaster for the band. Some in The Beatles camp and a few others considered canceling their performances.
The BEATLEMANIA segment was finally re-broadcast on CBS NIGHTLY NEWS the evening of December 10, 1963. Immediately airplay for THE BEATLES was requested on radio stations across the nation and CAPITOL RECORDS rushed out I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND, the boys newest single on December 26, 1963. That record sold one million copies in the first ten days, selling with one and a half million copies by three weeks time, AND….just in time for the SULLIVAN appearance.
THE BEATLES have the Number 1 hit in the land AND are appearing on one of the top rated television shows, for three consecutive weeks. BEATLEMANIA has arrived.
April 5,1964 BILLBOARD Magazine
#1: Can’t Buy Me Love (jumped 27 spots):THE BEATLES
#2: Twist And Shout:THE BEATLES
#3:She Loves You:THE BEATLES
#4:I Want To Hold Your Hand:THE BEATLES
#5:Please Please Me:THE BEATLES
See you next time…..Chapter 10:THE BRITISH ARE COMING 1964-1966 . Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org