On this day in 1964, tickets for The Beatles' first, live Ed Sullivan Show broadcast in New York City sold out. The next day, the band would fly across the Atlantic in hopes of cracking the USA - something no British band had yet managed to do. By the time the third and final Beatles Ed Sullivan broadcast aired a little more than two weeks later, the boys would be back home, their first US visit a phenomenal and unprecedented success.
From now until 23rd February, we'll be posting here about the significant events that led to Beatlemania spreading across the States. Check-in daily for photos and video from the tour, and the story of how The Beatles managed to accomplish what then had seemed impossible to do - making it in the USA.
Today, read here about the story behind the tour and click through to the US Albums site to see pics and read more: http://gnikn.us/Mv28wS
In Autumn 1963, Ed Sullivan had landed at Heathrow Airport at the same time as the boys were arriving back from Sweden. He saw all the fans that had gathered for The Beatles' arrival and booked the boys on the spot. Up till then, the Beatles had put out records in the States under a few different labels. Now, Capitol Records wanted them exclusively. Brian Epstein told them that they could have The Beatles - so long as they spent $50,000 on advertising them:
Paul: "I think the money was mainly spent in LA getting people like Janet Leigh to wear Beatle wigs and be photographed in them, which started it all. Once a film star did that, it could get syndicated all across America. (...) And so the whole 'moptop' thing started there, and it did get us noticed."
Still, despite their efforts, the boys were circumspect about their chances of cracking the U.S.. No British band before them had managed it and their own prior attempts had failed, too:
Ringo: "George was the only one of us who'd been (to the U.S.) before and he'd been into record shops there and asked, 'Have you got The Beatles records?' We had three out, on Vee-Jay and Swan, but nobody had them, or had even heard of us. He came back and said, 'They don't know us. It's going to be hard.' We were used to being famous by then, so we were worried about that."
Paul: "'From Me To You' was released - a flop in America. 'She Loves You' - a big hit in England, big Number One in England - a flop in the USA. 'Please Please Me' released over there - flop. Nothing until 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'."
With this in mind, they decided they'd enjoy the trip, no matter what happened...
John: "When we came over the first time, we were only coming over to buy LPs. I know our manager had plans for Ed Sullivan shows but we thought at least we could hear the sounds when we came over. It was just out of the dark. That's the truth, it was so out of the dark, we were knocked out."
Later on, John said that it wasn't purely lack of confidence that kept their expectations low. It wasn't themselves they didn't believe in - it was the logistics of cracking the American market...
John: "The thing is, in America, it just seemed ridiculous - I mean, the idea of having a hit record over there. It was just something you could never do. That's what I thought, anyhow. But then I realised that kids everywhere all go for the same stuff; and seeing we'd done it in England, there's no reason why we couldn't do it in America, too. But the American disc jockeys didn't know about British records; they didn't play them, nobody promoted them, so you didn't have hits."
So, they boarded their Kennedy Airport-bound plane at Heathrow with the attitude of just giving it a go.
Click through to the US Albums site to see pics and read more: http://gnikn.us/Mv28wS