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Fans Mark 50th Anniversary of Beatlemania in US

Sunday is the 50th anniversary of a British invasion of the United States -- when the Beatles made their American television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show kicking off what became known as "Beatlemania."

Sullivan's weekly TV variety show was known for starring the hottest acts in show business. He spotted the Beatles being mobbed by British music fans at a London airport and immediately signed them for three consecutive appearances even while they were not well known in the United States.

Rock and roll radio stations across the U.S. fueled Beatlemania with non-stop publicity. Fans swamped Sullivan's show with 50,000 ticket requests in a New York City theater that seated just 700.

A TV audience of 70 million tuned in at eight o'clock and heard John, Paul, George, and Ringo sing three numbers while the studio audience, packed with teenage girls, screamed.

Americans are marking the 50th anniversary of that first show with Beatles tributes across the country - from Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles to JFK Airport in New York, where the band first landed on American soil.

A CBS TV special late Sunday will pay tribute to the Beatles with a rare treat -- a reunion of the two surviving Beatles -- Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

John Lennon was murdered by a deranged fan in 1980. George Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001.

The Beatles were formed in Liverpool in 1960 and is best-selling band in history, with estimated sales of over 600 million records worldwide.

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