Hard to imagine but Capitol Records, which is essentially synonymous with the rise of The Beatles in America, had turned down their sister U.K. label Parlophone’s efforts to release the group’s singles stateside.
That all changed with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” The single was released in the U.K. on November 29, 1963, though it took two weeks to hit #1 there where the group’s “She Loves You” was ensconced.
Capitol scheduled it for a mid-January 1964 release but clever U.S. radio DJs that were privy to the song’s overseas success arranged to get copies shipped to them and began playing the import early. This forced Capitol’s hand and the single’s release date was moved up to December 26 to “Capitol”-ize on the demand. With the floodgates opened, the 45 is reported to have sold 250,000 copies within days.
The Beatles’ impact in America cannot be overstated: When “I Want To Hold Your Hand” hit #1 on February 1,1964, it became the first of seven #1 singles they achieved in a one-year period, launching both Beatlemania and the British Invasion.