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This Day in History: America Catches ‘Beatlemania’ Just Over 50 Years Ago

  • VOA News

This Feb. 7, 1964 file photo shows The Beatles, from left, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, arriving in New York at John F. Kennedy airport.

On a cold day in February 1964, thousands of teenagers stood waiting at New York’s JFK International Airport for The Beatles — nicknamed the “Fab Four” — to arrive for their first tour of America.

As their heads poked out of a Pam Am airplane and they descended down a slim stairwell onto the tarmac, they were greeting by screaming fans, and by all accounts, near pandemonium.

Escorted by policemen, The Beatles then fielded questions from the press, many of them about their hair.

When asked by one reporter if they were “going to get a haircut at all,” George Harrison famously answered, “I had one yesterday.”

That same day, Chet Huntley of NBC News, who was among America’s most elite television journalists, noted “Beatlemania” in his evening newscast.

Two days later, The Beatles sang live on national television on the Ed Sullivan show, one of three appearances during their American tour.

This first official tour of North America saw The Beatles play a total 32 shows at 26 venues in 24 cities in just 33 days.

The Beatles are shown on stage with Ed Sullivan before their live television appearance on the The Ed Sullivan Show at CBS' Studio 50 in New York City, Feb. 9, 1964.
The Beatles are shown on stage with Ed Sullivan before their live television appearance on the The Ed Sullivan Show at CBS' Studio 50 in New York City, Feb. 9, 1964.

During the tour, drummer Ringo Starr was quoted as saying:

“So this is America…They all seem to be out of their minds.”

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