On the 7th February 1964, thousands of screaming fans gathered at John F Kennedy International Airport. Rows upon rows of ecstatic Americans eagerly awaited the arrival of Pan Am Yankee Clipper Flight 101, which had departed from Heathrow Airport just hours before.
Finally, the moment arrived as the plane carrying The Beatles arrived in New York, to an almost riot-like ovation. Paul, Ringo, George and John took their first steps onto American soil, and Beatlemania truly swept across America.
The Beatles New York, 1964
This grand arrival occurred just six days after the ‘Fab Four’, who were dressed in mod suits and all embodied their signature ‘pudding bowl’ haircuts, had scored their first US number 1, with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” All aged between 20 and 23, The Beatles were there to make their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, although their performance was largely drowned out by the masses of adoring fans in the audience that night. It’s estimated that 73 million US television viewers tuned in to catch the Liverpool quartet perform – 40% of the population of the United States, an undeniably incredible statistic.
On the back of the success of the performance and The Beatles’ popularity, The Beatles would return to The Ed Sullivan Show twice later in the month. The band played their debut American concert on the 11th February at the Coliseum in the country’s capital, Washington DC, with 20,000 fans in attendance. The following day, The Beatles played a pair of back-to-back performances at Carnegie Hall in New York, forcing the police to close off the streets around the venue, due to what can only be described as ‘fan hysteria.’
The Beatles returned to the United Kingdom on the 22nd February after a spectacularly successful stint in the United States of America, leaving an unforgettable imprint in the country’s culture.