Lads arrived in New York on Pan Am Flight 101 from London on February 7, 1964
57 years ago today four lads from Liverpool were taking America by storm. In the process John, Paul, George and Ringo became the biggest band in the world as everyone clamoured for a piece of The Beatles .
The lads arrived in New York on Pan Am Flight 101 from London on February 7, 1964.
As well as the Fab Four, there was an entourage of photographers and journalists.
“There were fantastic scenes at London Airport today as Liverpool’s Beatles left, all set to conquer America. As they settled in their seats on a Boeing jet, bound for New York, there was a momentary silence. Then in a torrent, came wails and sobs. Hands screwed up handkerchiefs in anguish. And hundreds of girls trooped miserably home.As the Beatles walked to the aircraft hundreds of love letters, badges, photographs, jelly babies, and loads of fan mail rained down from the spectators’ gallery on the roof of the transatlantic departure terminal building.”
Estimated that 300 people were on the roof waving off the Fab Four.
“Screams drowned the noise of the huge jets taking off nearby,” read the report. “Don’t go Paul!’ and ‘We want Ringo’ the teenagers screamed.”
“The four Liverpool lads arrived at the airport with a strong police guard. They were taken to the conference room and given refreshments. Nearly 300 fans were directed on to the roof by a strong force of police. Before they boarded their aircraft, the boys posed for photographers, nervously twiddled fingers, smoked cigarettes and signed autographs for airport and airline staff.”
The report also said: “Travelling with the group and their manager is John´s wife, Cynthia. She hung in the background, shyly talking to friends. ‘I’m nervous and excited at the same time,’ was her only comment.”
“We are a bit nervous,” said Paul. “We are not worried about the crowds – we just hope that we go down well over there.”
A few minutes before they left a message was flashed from New York to manager Brian Epstein at London Airport. It read: “Congratulations, The records She Loves You and I Wanna Hold Your Hand have to-day reached joint number one position.”
The Beatles had arrived and popular music had changed forever.
Arrival in America
When the group arrived at New York’s newly renamed John F. Kennedy Airport, they were greeted by a large crowd, with 4,000 fans and 200 journalists. A few people were injured by the crush and the airport had not previously experienced such a large crowd.
The Police have made special arrangements to deal with demonstrations by teenagers, who have been whipped to a frenzy of anticipation by repeated playing of their records by America’s disc jockeys.
“The New York World-Telegram has called the Beatles ‘England’s Hair-apparents to the rock-and-roll crown’ and prophesied that the Beatle wigs may become the hottest selling item since hula hoops.
“Ed Sullivan, a leading TV personality, was photographed wearing a Beatle wig and swore he would wear it on his show on Sunday, when the Liverpool boys make their first live performance on US screens.”
The scenes when the Beatles arrived at the newly named John Kennedy International Airport (which used to be Idlewild), were the first big shock for New Yorkers.
More than a hundred police has been specially brought in to control crowds, but had a tough job.
George’s report said: “One perspiring sergeant told me ‘In ten years of duty on arrivals of important visitors, I have never seen anything like this. Nobody – not even the President of the United States – ever had a reception to beat these Beatles.”
An official of the airport commented: “Until today our biggest crowd was for Fidel Castro’s visit, but this is far bigger.”
After a press conference, where they first met disc jockey Murray the K, the Beatles were put into limousines – one per Beatle – and driven to New York.
On the way, Paul turned on a radio and listened to a running commentary, which said: “They have just left the airport and are coming to New York City…”
BEATLEMANIA was in full force when the Fab Four got to the Plaza Hotel. The band were besieged by fans and reporters. The Journal American carried a poster front page of John, Paul, George and Ringo waving to squealing, yelling youngsters at Kennedy International Airport with the headline: “It’s Beatletown USA.”
“This staggered city is still wondering exactly what hit it when four shaggy-maned lads from Liverpool, the Beatles, arrived to whip up a teenage tornado such as it had never before experienced.”
The four shell-shocked Beatles made their way around town seeing the sights and getting over their jetlag.
“Already, the kids are grouping again for a second day’s affectionate offensive outside our Plaza hotel in plush Fifth Avenue. But the Beatles are still sleeping after last night’s sightseeing on Broadway.
“Today they face rehearsals for tomorrow night’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan television show, which is the top guest programme in the United States, watched by millions.
Hundreds of teenagers have come long distances to be there,” “Two to whom I talked had travelled 300 miles from a town in Vermont, and others had hitch-hiked from the neighbouring states of Connecticut, New Jersey and New Hampshire. Police informed me that the first arrivals reached the airport at four o’clock in the morning, although our plane was not due until the early afternoon, local time.
“Fifteen-years-old Regina Kaye, of Brooklyn, and her sister Helene, aged 14, said they didn’t go to bed, but left home at three o’clock on a pilgrimage to the airport.
When I asked why Regina replied: ‘These Beatles are wonderful. They tear us apart, and we had to see them’.”
The fans were mad for the band and screamed day and night at them – even at John, who was accompanied by his wife.
“The Beatles face a hectic time while here. There is a television show tomorrow night and a tele-recording of another one beforehand for broadcasting in three weeks time. There is a concert in Washington on Tuesday, with the possibility of meeting President Johnson afterwards, and two evening performances on Wednesday at Carnegie Hall. Then they leave on Thursday for Miami Beach Florida to rest awhile, rehearse still more, and prepare for another Sullivan television show from Miami on the following Sunday.”
But George, the youngest Beatle, was taken ill. He had tonsillitis and was ordered to stay in bed, so Neil Aspinall, the band’s personal assistant, replaced him on guitar during the first rehearsal for The Ed Sullivan Show.
Outside the hotel, police clashed with fans and photographers who tried to catch a glimpse of the boys. They tried every trick to get into the hotel and try to reach The Beatles in their £1,000 a week suite on the 12th floor. Inside the hotel, a dozen security guards were on watch day and night.
Outside, angry cameramen protested when officers stopped them taking pictures of The Beatles on Fifth Avenue and Broadway against a background of Manhattan skyscrapers.
Eventually the picture location was fixed for Central Park, which was almost deserted under a thin mantle of snow, and there, free from police interference, The Beatles posed for the cameras.
But, as Ringo put it: “We could have got pictures like this in Sefton Park instead of coming all this way.”
With The Beatles it’s the Beat that counts: A New York teenage fan explains
It’s hard to explain what makes the Beatles so wonderful because I don’t completely understand why I think they are Anti-Beatleites (believe it or not, there are a few) simply cannot understand why other people are crazy about the Beatles.
“Good heavens!” they exclaim. ‘They’re not even good looking.’ As if that should explain everything.Well, maybe they’re not really good looking in the conventional sense of the word, but looks aren’t everything. A friend of mine, a rabid Beatle fan, got so disgusted when people kept telling her they weren’t good looking that she screamed: “I don’t care if they’re four dogs! Their music is fantastic and that’s all I care about.”
And their music is fantastic. To the average adult it would sound like nothing more than a conglomeration of assorted noises, screams, howls and other unclassified sounds.
To the ecstatic teenager lying in front of her hi-fi it’s sheer heaven.
Its insistent beat (which is how the Beatles got their name) is great to dance all the latest dances to including the new one called The Beatle.
Perhaps most important of all, the songs are about subjects the teenagers can identify.
What teenagers, feeling depressed and unhappy wouldn’t be comforted by hearing the glorious voices of the Beatles sympathise with them in Misery?
The mere title of one of their records, Boys, is enough to send millions of teenage girls to the record stores. With a title like that, it has to be good!
The Beatles have such magnetic personalities that it is impossible for any girl to resist them.
Whether they’re good looking or not, they’re certainly different. They have wild senses of humour. Then asked why he wore four rings on his fingers, Ringo replied, “Because I can’t fit them all through my nose.”
I don’t know exactly why girls fall in love with the Beatles.
All I know is, when John growls during a song, “Okay, George – Give it to ‘em,” a chill runs down the spine of every girl listening.
They were watched by about two-fifths of the total American population
On February 9 1964, The Beatles made their first live US television appearance. A staggering 73 million viewers – about two-fifths of the total American population – watched the group perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.
According to the Nielsen ratings audience measurement system, the show had the largest number of viewers that had ever been recorded for a US television program.
Before the show, the Beatles were thrilled to receive a cable from Elvis Presley, wishing them luck. As they waited to go on air, offers of extraordinary money were already being phoned in for them to go to Canada, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Chicago to perform there too.
Paul said in the 1995 documentary series, Anthology: “Seventy-three million people were reported to have watched the first show. It is still supposed to be one of the largest viewing audiences ever in the States.