55 Years Ago Today The Beatles Make Their First US Chart Appearance
The Beatles pose for a portrait in front of an American Flag, New York City, 1964. Clockwise from top: John Lennon (1940 - 1980), George Harrison (1943 - 2001), Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Clever US Radio DJs
Capitol Records is synonymous with the success of the early Beatles performances. Oddly though, they didn’t release some of the band’s hits in the US until months after their introductions in the UK. Over the pond in England, Parlophone (Capitol Records sister label) had been urging the state side company to release the Beatles’ singles to their eager fans. Yet, Capitol refused.
Then, with a stroke of luck, the US label started to cave. They had planned for The Beatles single to drop in mid January of 1964. Radio DJs in the United States got access to the single and had other plans. The hit was just way too catchy to keep secret. The DJs noticed how successful the song had been in the UK and knew this would be the perfect opportunity for The Beatles to make a US splash.
The Launch of The British Invasion
The US DJs started broadcasting The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” on January 18, 1964. The track had already been released in the UK, on November 29, 1963. It was an injustice to keep it from America for so long! It had been at #1 for 5 weeks and in the top 50 chart for 21 weeks, over seas.
In America, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” was debuted at #45 on the Billboard 100. On February 1st of the same year the song rose to #1. It would be The Beatles’ first #1 single in the US of a following seven #1 singles to chart in the states– that same year. The catchy hit sold over 450,000 copies of the 45 within days. The band performed “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. This was the introduction to Beatlemania and The British Invasion.