The Pop History Dig

“Beatles in America”
1963-1964

The Beatles in a session with Ed Sullivan prior to their February 9th, 1964 show. From left: Paul McCartney, Ed Sullivan, George Harrison, John Lennon, and behind & above, Ringo Starr.
The Beatles in a session with Ed Sullivan prior to their February 9th, 1964 show. From left: Paul McCartney, Ed Sullivan, George Harrison, John Lennon, and behind & above, Ringo Starr.
     The Beatles became a sensation in the U.K. in 1962-63, about a year or more before anyone in the U. S. knew much about them.  However, before that, the Beatles had honed their craft playing in nightclubs and other gigs dating to the late 1950s.  Known by earlier names such as The Quarrymen, Johnny & the Moon- dogs, and the Silver Beatles, they played a variety of venues, with some alternating personnel during those early years.  In Hamburg, Germany, and Liverpool, Eng- land, from about 1960 on, they worked hard and steadily in nightclubs, putting in long hours, improving their stage act, increasing their range of music, and writing their own songs.  They were a cover band as well, as most English rock bands then were.  They offered their own versions of Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Larry Williams, and others.  By late 1961, they were playing to packed houses at the Cavern nightclub in Liverpool, England where they were discovered by their manager-to-be Brian Epstein in November 1961.  Epstein did a wardrobe and style make-over on them, cleaning them up for the music industry.  By May 1962, after being rejected by a number of U.K. record labels, they signed a deal with EMI, then the U.K.’s leading music company.

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“Please Please Me,”1963-64

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     During 1962, their songs began hitting the British Melody Maker music chart and others.  “Love Me Do,” a Lennon/McCartney compo- sition, reached No. 21 in the fall that year, and their first No. 1 hit came with “Please, Please Me” on February 22, 1963.  At about this point, what came to be known as “Beatlemania” began to take hold in the U.K.  Their first U.K. album was titled Please Please Me, released in April of 1963.  Within four weeks it would be the No.1 U.K. album, remaining in that position for 30 weeks, followed by their second U.K. album, With the Beatles.  From then on, there came a string of No. 1 Beatles’ hits and No. 1 albums until the group broke up in 1969-1970.

The Beatles as photographed upon their arrival at JFK Airport in New York, February 7, 1964, from top left: John, Paul, George & Ringo.
The Beatles as photographed upon their arrival at JFK Airport in New York, February 7, 1964, from top left: John, Paul, George & Ringo.
     In the American music industry, however, there was an initial hesitancy about the Beatles, as some record executives and DJs, especially in 1963, didn’t think that British acts generally would do well in America.  That perspective would soon change.

     What follows below is a timeline marking the rise of Beatles’ music and appearances in the U.S. during 1963 and 1964, along with a few photos, anecdotes, and sidebar stories.  It is not a complete and comprehensive treatment of the Beatles’ activities during these years, nor is it meant to be.  There are entire books and websites devoted to that topic, some of which are noted in “Sources & Additional Information” at the end of this article.  What is offered here, hopefully, is a representative sampling of activity in those first two “Beatles-in-America” years, mixing in music history, business developments, and news-of-the-times — plus one or two stories that may be new to many readers.

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“Beatles-in-America Timeline”
1963-1964


January 1963
George Martin of EMI in London sends a copy of “Please Please Me” to U.S. subsidiary Capitol Records, urging executives there to distribute Beatles’ songs in the U.S. They decline, saying: “We don’t think the Beatles will do anything in this market.”  Lesser known labels then begin picking up Beatles’1963 songs for U.S. release.

Vee-Jay single of Beatles’ “Please Please Me,” in Feb 1963, distinguished by ‘Beattles’ misspelling, later corrected.
Vee-Jay single of Beatles’ “Please Please Me,” in Feb 1963, distinguished by ‘Beattles’ misspelling, later corrected.

25 Jan 1963
Vee-Jay record label of Chicago obtains a contract to release limited number of Beatles records in the U.S. for a limited time period.

25 Feb 1963
“Please Please Me”/ “Ask Me Why” released as single on Vee-Jay label.  The song is played on Chicago’s WLS radio station where it reaches No. 35 on WLS music survey in March, but does not chart nationally; not on Billboard.

27 May 1963
“From Me To You” / “Thank You Girl” released as a single by Vee-Jay, but is barely visible; No. 116 on August Billboard chart, drops off thereafter.

Record sleeve for ‘She Loves You’ / 'I’ll Get You’ single issued by Swan Records in Sept. 1963, which went ‘virtually unnoticed.’
Record sleeve for ‘She Loves You’ / 'I’ll Get You’ single issued by Swan Records in Sept. 1963, which went ‘virtually unnoticed.’



16 Sept 1963
“She Loves You” / “I’ll Get You” released in U.S. by Swan Records, a Philadelphia label, but does not chart on Billboard.

31 Oct 1963
American TV variety show host, Ed Sullivan, traveling to London, has his arrival delayed at London Heathrow Airport by a screaming crowd of teens welcoming the Beatles home from a tour of Sweden.  Sullivan has his first thoughts of booking these rising British music stars with strange haircuts — perhaps as novelty act.

11-12 Nov 1963
Beatles manager Brian Epstein travels to New York and persuades Ed Sullivan to book the Beatles for an unprecedented three consecutive appearances on Sullivan’s much-watched Sunday evening variety show — February 9th, 16th and 23rd, 1964.  CBS-TV gets one year’s exclusive rights to the Beatles’ U.S. television appearances.

Brian Epstein, who discovered the Beatles and became their manager, also negotiated early business deals and arranged for publicity.
Brian Epstein, who discovered the Beatles and became their manager, also negotiated early business deals and arranged for publicity.
15 Nov 1963
Time magazine take notice of the “Beatlemania” craze sweeping England and the Beatles’ command performance for British royalty in London.

16 Nov1963
CBS News bureau London — at the suggestion of Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein — sends a news crew to the British seaside resort of Bournemouth where they film a Beatles concert, thousands of screaming fans, and a few Beatles’ comments on camera.  This film clip is later sent to New York.

Mid-late Nov 1963
Brian Epstein phones Capitol Records president Alan Livingston over label’s refusal to distribute Beatles songs in America.  Epstein urges Livingston to listen to the U.K. single, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” while mentioning the Beatles’ upcoming 1964 Ed Sullivan Show appearances as a big opportunity for Capitol.  Livingston later agrees to spend $40,000 for Beatles promotion, equal to about $250,000 in today’s money.

Beatles’ ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand' song that Brian Epstein urged Capitol Records Alan Livingston to listen to, Nov 1963.
Beatles’ ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand' song that Brian Epstein urged Capitol Records Alan Livingston to listen to, Nov 1963.

18 Nov 1963
NBC’s evening news program, The Huntley-Brinkley Report, airs a four-minute segment on the Beatles.

22 Nov 1963
U.K. album, With The Beatles, is released in the U.K., rising to No. 1 on the British album charts and remaining there for 21 weeks.  With The Beatles becomes the Beatles’ first million-selling album in Britain, and the second album of any kind in Britain to sell one million copies, the first being the South Pacific soundtrack.

22 Nov 1963
The “CBS Morning News With Mike Wallace” runs a story on the Beatles for the network’s morning news show.  CBS planned to repeat the segment that evening on Walter Cronkite’s newscast.  However, that day, in mid afternoon, Walter Cronkite was breaking the tragic news to a shocked nation that their President, John F. Kennedy, had been shot and killed while visiting Dallas, Texas.

29 Nov 1963
The Beatles’ single “I Want To Hold Your Hand” is released in the U.K. and immediately hits No. 1 on the British pop charts.


“Dick Clark & The Beatles”
Aug-Dec 1963

Dick Clark, of 'American Bandstand' fame, was a partner for a time in Swan Records.
Dick Clark, of 'American Bandstand' fame, was a partner for a time in Swan Records.
     Swan Records was a Philadelphia, PA record label founded in 1957 by Bernie Binnick, Tony Mamma- rella, and Dick Clark. Clark was then host of American Bandstand, a popular dance and pop music TV show.  Binnick, an accountant, had worked with Clark on earlier music projects, and Marmmarella was a producer at Bandstand. Initially, Clark held 50 percent of Swan Records, with Binnick and Mammarella each holding a 25 percent share.  After the 1959-60 payola scandal that had implicated music DJs in “play-for-pay” music deals, Dick Clark — though never found guilty of any wrong-doing — divested his music holdings, including Swan, which he sold to Binnick and Mammarella.  By 1963, Clark was still at American Bandstand, and very much a recognized leader in the business of rock ‘n roll music.

     The Beatles in England by this time were already a sensation, with hit after hit, setting music sales records.  On August 23, 1963, the Beatles released the song “She Loves You” in the U.K. on EMI’s Parlophone record label.  “She Loves You” hit No. 1 in the U.K. on August 29, 1963.  However, in the U.S., Capitol Records, a subsidiary of EMI, declined to issue “She Loves You” in America.  They had also not issued other Beatles’ U.K hits — “Love Me Do”, “Please Please Me” and “From Me To You.”  That left the door open to other smaller companies to obtain the U.S. distribution rights for Beatles’ songs.

Swan Records released the Beatles’ ‘She Loves You’ in Sept 1963, but it went nowhere. Re-issued in early 1964 after Beatles’ music soared, it hit No. 1 in March.
Swan Records released the Beatles’ ‘She Loves You’ in Sept 1963, but it went nowhere. Re-issued in early 1964 after Beatles’ music soared, it hit No. 1 in March.

     According to John Jackson’s excellent book, American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock ‘n Roll Empire, Bernie Binnick acquired the American rights for “She Loves You” for his Swan Record label while on vacation in England in the summer of 1963.  When he returned, he pressed his old friend Dick Clark about the song, obviously hoping for some American Bandstand attention.  “What do you think?” he reportedly asked Clark, who replied that the song sounded like “Buddy Holly and the Crickets and Chuck Berry and a lot of other early American songs sort of mixed together.”  Clark was not reassuring, though Binnick tried to interest Clark in the new group’s novel look.  But after glancing at a picture of the Beatles, Clark noticed their long hair and reportedly told Binnick, “you’re absolutely insane….It’ll never fly.” 

     Still, Binnick’s Swan label released “She Loves You” to the American market in mid-September 1963.  But nothing happened.  Clark, meanwhile, appears to have given the record a review on American Bandstand’s “rate-a-record” segment — probably in the Oct-Nov period.  Bandstand’s “rate-a-record” consisted of a selected group of teenagers reviewing several new records that were played, then rated on a numeric scale by the teens who were interviewed by Clark.  “She Loves You” reportedly did poorly on the rate-a-record segment, earning a seventy-one out of a possible ninety-eight points — not an impressive showing.  According to another account, Clark would later explain that the Beatles’ disc rated “just fair.”  He also added, “then I pulled a picture of the group out, and the audience just giggled.  I figured these guys were going nowhere.”  But as Clark would later acknowledge, “We all found out the truth soon enough.”

New songs were rated by teens on Bandstand, who reportedly gave the Beatles’ ‘She Loves You’ a poor rating in 1963.
New songs were rated by teens on Bandstand, who reportedly gave the Beatles’ ‘She Loves You’ a poor rating in 1963.

     Binnick, meanwhile, had a pile of newly pressed Swan recordings of “She Loves You” going nowhere.  Then in late 1963 he got a telephone call from Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, who was then in New York arranging an American television appearance for the Beatles.  Epstein wanted to know how “She Loves You” was doing in America.  Binnick replied that the record was “a stiff.”  Epstein shot back that it might soon become a huge hit, explaining that the Beatles were going to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show.  Binnick, unimpressed, told Epstein he “blew it,” saying he should have had the Beatles appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand rather than The Ed Sullivan Show, suggesting that Clark’s show was more popular.

     About a month or so later, Jack Paar, who hosted a Friday evening variety TV show on NBC, had just returned from England that December, marveled to his viewing audience over the “Beatlemania” that he had observed overseas. Paar was also able to get a film clip of the Beatles performing “She Loves You” in an English town, and he aired it on his show Friday, January 3, 1964, showing the Beatles performing the song as their teenage fans went wild.  According to Binnick, “the record exploded [in sales] the following Monday.”  Binnick and Swan, re-issued “She Loves You” to meet demand.  By March 21st it would become the No. 1 hit in the land.  “She Loves You,” in fact, would sell 1 million copies, creating a temporary windfall for Binnick and Swan Records.  However, Swan’s option on future Beatles songs had been lost since it stipulated that ‘She Loves You” had to sell 50,000 copies in its first year, 1963, which it did not.  Swan also had the rights to the German version of “She Loves You,” which did reasonably well too, but not enough to save Swan from its troubles.  The company went out of business in 1967.


29 Nov 1963
Radio station KIOA in Des Moines, Iowa begins playing “I Saw Her Standing There” from a Drake University student’s copy of Beatle’s U.K. album, Please Please Me, and a few days later, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” from a U.K. Beatles’ single  (see sidebar story below).

1 Dec 1963
The New York Times Sunday Magazine, runs a story on “Beatlemania” in the U.K.


4 Dec 1963
Capitol Records issues a press release announcing that it will begin selling the Beatles’ first U.S. 45 rpm single, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” on Monday, January 13th, 1964.

10 Dec 1963
A four-minute CBS film segment on The Beatles that had been pre-empted by the JFK tragedy is aired on Walter Cronkite’s  CBS Evening News

Capitol Records issues a "Beatles' Campaign" memo to its staff, Dec 23rd, 1964.
Capitol Records issues a "Beatles' Campaign" memo to its staff, Dec 23rd, 1964.
17 Dec 1963
Radio disc jockey Carroll James at Washington. D.C. station WWDC, plays rare U.K. copy of  “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on the radio after 15-year-old girl from Silver Spring, MD wrote to him  requesting Beatles music after seeing the CBS-news segment.  James arranged to have an airline stewardess buy a U.K. copy of the Beatles’ latest single in London.  Listeners phone in repeatedly to request the song.

18-19 Dec 1963
Capitol Records threatens to sue WWDC to stop playing song, but then reverses itself and decides to rush-release “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” previously scheduled for  January 13, 1964.  Christmas leave is canceled at Capitol Records, as pressing plants and staff gear up for rush release.

23 Dec 1963
Capitol Records issues a memo to its sales people and regional managers across the country, outlining an extensive “Beatles Campaign” using various promotional items — from major music magazine trade ads and a fake tabloid Beatles newspaper (reprinted in the thousands), to Beatle buttons, Beatle stickers, Beatle wigs, and a battery-powered, “Beatles-in-motion,” bobble-head-like, window display for music stores.


“Beatles’ Iowa Breakout”
29 November 1963

 

On the evening of Nov 29, 1963, a Drake University student showed up at this Iowa radio station waving a copy of a new U.K. Beatles’ album at the DJ through the window.
On the evening of Nov 29, 1963, a Drake University student showed up at this Iowa radio station waving a copy of a new U.K. Beatles’ album at the DJ through the window.
     Stu Adams was a disc jockey at Des Moines, Iowa radio station KIOA — one of the “KIOA Good Guys,” as that station’s DJs were known locally.  It was late November 1963, the Friday after Thanksgiving.  In fact, it was exactly a week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  The programming at the station was gradually getting back to normal.  Adams was working the 6:00 to 9:00 pm shift on that cold November night.  He was situated at his radio post behind a huge storefront plate glass window in the studio at 803 Keo Way in Des Moines.  While working, he was interrupted by an urgent rap on the window.  Outside was a young man trying to get his attention.  He was holding up a copy of a Beatles LP from England, Please Please Me, their first album, unavailable in the U.S.

     At first, Adams tried to ignore the young man.  But he persisted, holding up the album and pointing to it emphatically.  So Adams finally let him in out of the cold.  The young man was a Drake University student who had recently returned from a trip to England.  He insisted that the station play the Beatles’ new music.

On the evening of Nov 29, 1963, a Drake University student showed up at Iowa radio station KIOA with this Beatles’ U.K. album.
On the evening of Nov 29, 1963, a Drake University student showed up at Iowa radio station KIOA with this Beatles’ U.K. album.
      Adams, as music director at the station, was aware of the Beatles.  In fact, the station had tried playing “She Loves You” back in September 1963 when it was released in the U.S. by Swan Records.  But the song received little interest.  In fact, a teen record panel that met weekly at the station to rate songs had also given it a thumbs down.  Adams was also hearing talk in the music industry that English records were a hard sell in the U.S., and that the Beatles wouldn’t make it here either.  But Adams was more open-minded on that score, since a late summer song by England’s Cliff Richard, “Lucky Lips,” had been a Top Ten KIOA hit.

     The Drake student, meanwhile, insisted the Beatles album he had was better than previous Beatles recordings, and that “I Saw Her Standing There,” on the album, was one of the songs that was then very popular in England.  Adams, having been playing a steady parade of “car tunes and surfing music,” decided to give the new Beatles album a whirl.  He “slapped the Parlophone labeled Please Please Me LP on a turntable” and asked his listeners to call in and let the phone ring just once if they liked it.  “Instantly, all the lines lighted up and stayed that way until well after the song ended,” recalled Adams in a later account of the playing.  “With that,” said Adams, “Beatlemania was not only born in Iowa, but throughout the Midwest.”

This was the U.K. Beatles’ LP that Iowa radio station DJ Stu Adams began playing on Nov 29, 1963.
This was the U.K. Beatles’ LP that Iowa radio station DJ Stu Adams began playing on Nov 29, 1963.
     Requests continued for the Beatles music the next day.  Adams had no choice but to add “I Saw Her Standing There” to the station’s playlist, using a dubbed version taken from the student’s album.  It became the most requested song at the station, but it didn’t make the station’s top tunes survey because that survey was based on local record sales, and at the time, there were no copies of that record in stores.  No sales meant no chart position.  But according to Adams, “the requests just kept on coming in.”  Several days later, the Drake University student returned with the new UK Beatles single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” backed with “This Boy.”  Said Adams: “sales in England were phenomenal and as soon as we put it on the air we could see why.”  But as Adams and KIOA continued playing these U.K. Beatles releases, local record shop owners in Des Moines weren’t too happy, as they had none to sell.  Soon, Capitol Records, which held the rights to the Beatles records in the U.S., ultimately was forced to move up the release date for “I Want to Hold Your Hand” — the first scheduled U.S. Beatle’ single from Capitol — from January 13th, 1964, to December 26th, 1963.  Once released, the single, with “I Saw Her Standing There” on the B side, hit No. 1 in record sales in Des Moines and made it to No. 1 on the KIOA survey — as it soon did throughout the rest of the U.S.


The Beatles’ single ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand,’ issued by Capitol Records, went on sale in the U.S. in late December 1963.
The Beatles’ single ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand,’ issued by Capitol Records, went on sale in the U.S. in late December 1963.
26 Dec 1963
Capitol Records begins distributing “I Want To Hold Your Hand” to radio stations in major U.S. cities where it is played regularly.  With teens home for Christmas-New Years break, radios get full-time use, and the record begins selling like crazy.  In New York City, 10,000 copies are sold every hour.  In the first three days, 250,000 copies are  sold.  Capitol was so overloaded it contracted Columbia Records and RCA to help with the pressings.

28 Dec 1963
The New Yorker magazine publishes a Brian Epstein interview; regarded as first serious article in U.S. about the Beatles and their manager.

29 Dec 1963
New York city radio station WMCA joins others  broadcasting “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”  Back in London, meanwhile, Sunday Times critic Richard Buckle praises the Beatles as the greatest composers since Beethoven.

A Beatles' film clip was shown on Jack Paar's TV show in early January 1964.
A Beatles' film clip was shown on Jack Paar's TV show in early January 1964.
30 Dec 1963
A two-page ad from Capitol Records pitching the Beatles’ recordings runs in Billboard and Cash Box music industry magazines.  Bulk reprints of these ads have already been distributed to Capitol’s sales agents for use with radio stations and in enlarged, easel-scale size for use in music store displays across the country.

3 Jan 1964
Jack Paar, host of the late night U.S. TV talk show, “The Jack Paar Show,” airs a filmed Beatles’ performance of “She Loves You” from England.  It is the first complete Beatles song shown on American TV, and for many in America, the first time they see the Beatles.

V-J’s promotional cover sleeve for Beatles’ ‘Please Please Me’ single following Jack Paar show, Jan 1964.
V-J’s promotional cover sleeve for Beatles’ ‘Please Please Me’ single following Jack Paar show, Jan 1964.

10 Jan 1964
Vee-Jay Records releases the first Beatles album in the U.S., Introducing…The Beatles.  Legal and business issues plague the album, but by late fall, it would sell more than 1.3 million copies.

10 Jan 1964
Two weeks after the Capitol Records release of “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” sales hit 1 million copies — a staggering number at that time for an unknown music group from overseas.

mid-Jan 1964
Vee-Jay Records’ issues special record sleeves for promoting “Please Please Me” to radio DJs,  noting Beatles’ clip on Jack Paar’s show, upcoming Ed Sullivan Show dates, and national news coverage in Time, LifeNewsweek magazines.

'Meet the Beatles,' their first U.S. Capitol album.
'Meet the Beatles,' their first U.S. Capitol album.


17 Jan 1964
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles is the No. 1 single in America.

20 Jan 1964
Capitol Records issues Meet the Beatles, the Beatles’ first Capitol album in the U.S.

20 Jan 1964
To promote the Meet The Beatles album and their upcoming first American visit, Capitol Records distributes pre-recorded interview with the Beatles to American radio stations.

29 Jan 1964
Capitol Records announced in a press releases, that Meet the Beatles had already sold 400,000 copies by January 27th.

Vee-Jay's "Please Please Me," released a 2nd time, late Jan 1964.
Vee-Jay's "Please Please Me," released a 2nd time, late Jan 1964.




30 Jan 1964
Vee-Jay Records releases, for the second time, the single “Please Please Me” / “From Me to You,”  entering the Billboard chart at No. 69.  It would later reach No. 3, and Vee-Jay would sell at least 1.1 million copies.

7 Feb 1964
At about 1:20 p.m. the Beatles arrive at Kennedy International Airport in New York where they are greeted by 3,000 screaming teenagers, 200 reporters and photographers, and more than 100 New York police officers.  At a televised press conference the Beatles come off as witty, charming and playful.

Beatles at press conference after landing in New York, February 7, 1964.
Beatles at press conference after landing in New York, February 7, 1964.

9 Feb 1964
Elvis Presley sends The Beatles a telegram wishing them well in their upcoming Ed Sullivan Show appearance later that evening.

9 Feb 1964
Beatles perform live on The Ed Sullivan Show, reaching a record-breaking audience of 73 million, or according to A.C. Nielsen, 23.2 million households.  One estimate at 40% of population.  They perform five songs: “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

Beatles performing on ‘Ed Sullivan Show,’ Feb 9, 1964, before estimated TV audience of 73 million.
Beatles performing on ‘Ed Sullivan Show,’ Feb 9, 1964, before estimated TV audience of 73 million.


11 Feb 1964
The Beatles give their first live concert performance in the U.S. at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C.

12 Feb 1964
The Beatles perform two shows at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

16 Feb1964
Second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, live from the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. Approximately 70 million people tune in, or 22.4 million households. Songs performed: “She Loves You,” “All My Loving,” “This Boy,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “From Me to You,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

Beatles clowning with boxer Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) during visit to Miami, FL, Feb 1964.  Photo, Harry Benson.
Beatles clowning with boxer Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) during visit to Miami, FL, Feb 1964. Photo, Harry Benson.



22 Feb 1964
The Beatles return to London, U.K.;  at Heathrow Airport at 7 a.m. they are met by an estimated 10,000 fans.

23 Feb 1964
Beatles appear for 3rd time on Ed Sullivan Show, a performance that was taped earlier in New York — performing three songs: “Twist and Shout”, “Please Please Me” and “I Want to Hold your Hand.”

13 Mar 1964
Meet the Beatles LP by this date is reported to have sold 3,600,000 copies. “Can’t Buy Me Love” their next single, has advance orders of 1,700,000 copies in the U.S.

The Beatles, 'Saturday Evening Post' cover, 21 March 1964.
The Beatles, 'Saturday Evening Post' cover, 21 March 1964.


14 Mar 1964
“Please Please Me” is a massive hit, rising to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart by this date.

16 Mar 1964
“Can’t Buy Me Love/You Can’t Do That” is released as single by Capitol Records; sells 940,225 copies first day, 2.1 million by March 19th.

21 Mar 1964
Beatles appear on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, one of America’s mainstream magazines at the time.  Post’s cover story — “The Secrets of The Beatles” — promises “an intimate account of their American tour and a probing analysis of their incredible power to excite frenzied emotions among the young.”

23 Mar 1964
“Do You Want to Know a Secret” / “Thank You Girl” released as a Vee-Jay single.

28 Mar 1964
Capitol Records reports sales of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in excess of 3.4 million copies.

Beatles' 2nd album from Capitol, released April 10th, 1964.
Beatles' 2nd album from Capitol, released April 10th, 1964.

31 Mar 1964
The Beatles hold the top five slots on Billboard: (1) Can’t Buy Me Love, (2) Twist and Shout, (3) She Loves You, (4) I Want To Hold Your Hand (5) Please Please Me — a musical first.

10 Apr 1964
The Beatles’ Second Album is released by Capitol Records, which replaces the Beatles first Capitol album, Meet The Beatles, at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart from May 5th to June 2nd.

11 Apr 1964
The Beatles hold 14 slots on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

14 Apr 1964
The Beatles’ Second Album reaches $1 million in sales by this date.

Beatles’ Hot 14
Chart #s on Billboard
April 11, 1964

1.      Can’t Buy Me Love
2.      Twist & Shout
4.      She Loves You
7.      I Want To Hold Your Hand
9.      Please Please Me
14.    …Want to Know a Secret
38.    …Saw Her Standing There
48.    You Can’t Do That
50.    All My Loving
52.    From Me To You
61.    Thank You Girl
74.    There’s A Place
78.    Roll Over Beethoven
81.    Love Me Do
___________________
               Billboard Hot 100, 1964.

27 April 1964
“Love Me Do”/ “P.S I Love You” released as single by Tollie Records, a Vee-Jay subsidiary.

1 June 1964
“Sweet Georgia Brown” / “Take Some Insurance Out on Me” released as Atco Records single.

‘A Hard Day’s Night’ became one of the fastest-selling soundtrack albums of the 1960s.
‘A Hard Day’s Night’ became one of the fastest-selling soundtrack albums of the 1960s.

June 1964
Advance orders for the soundtrack album from the Beatles’ forthcoming film, A Hard Day’s Night, are 250,000 in the U.K. and 1 million in the U.S.; album would sell 2 million copies in the U.S. by October, and 600,000 in the U.K. by year’s end.  American version, with somewhat different songs, was released on June 26, 1964 by United Artists Records.


June 1964
The Beatles fly to Hong Kong, June 8-10, perform two concerts there and then go to Austrailia, June 12-14.  In Adelaide, Australia they are greeted by an estimated crowd of 300,000 along their motorcade route.

Beatles’ single, ‘And I Love Her’/ ‘If I Fell’ released July 20th, 1964.
Beatles’ single, ‘And I Love Her’/ ‘If I Fell’ released July 20th, 1964.

 13 July 1964
“A Hard Day’s Night” / “I Should Have Known Better” released as single by Capitol Records.

20 July 1964
“I’ll Cry Instead”/ “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You” released as single by Capitol Records.

20 July 1964
“And I Love Her”/ “If I Fell” released as single by Capitol Records, as well as a new Beatles’ album, Something New.

Beatles' film poster, 1964.
Beatles' film poster, 1964.

11 Aug 1964
Beatles first film, A Hard Day’s Night, opens in America and is a huge hit.  Shown in 500 theaters across U.S., it earns $1.3 million in the first week.  Some 15,000 prints made for world-wide distribution — historical first in film industry.

12 Aug 1964
Variety magazine reports that by August 1964, the Beatles had sold approximately 80 million records globally.

19 Aug 1964
The Beatles perform at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California, in the first concert of their USA/Canada tour, which lasts a month through August and September.

24 Aug 1964
“Matchbox” / “Slow Down” is released as a single by Capitol Records.

Beatles, 'Life' magazine, August 1964.
Beatles, 'Life' magazine, August 1964.

August 1964
The Beatles received a request from the White House press office to be photographed with President Lyndon B. Johnson, laying a wreath on the grave of John F. Kennedy.  The request was politely declined by their manager, Brian Epstein, saying it was not the group’s policy to accept “official” invitations.

25 Aug 1964
The Beatles’ single, “A Hard Day’s Night,” is certified gold for exceeding sales of more than 1 million copies.

26 Aug 1964
Beatles’ North American tour plays Denver, Colorado.

27 Aug 1964
Beatles’ North American tour plays Cincinnati, Ohio.

28 Aug 1964
Life magazine article reports that the Beatles’ 33-day tour of 23 American cities is a sell out at every location and is expected to gross millions. Beatles pandemonium at the time is such that some hotels along the tour route refused to house the Beatles, and Los Angeles’ Lockheed Airport forbad any Beatles plane from landing there for fear of screaming fans running on to the tarmac.


“Charlie O & The Beatles”
17 September 1964


Ticket stub, Beatles' Sept 17,1964 concert in Kansas City, MO.
Ticket stub, Beatles' Sept 17,1964 concert in Kansas City, MO.
     Charles O. Finley (b.1918 – d.1996) was an American businessman who made his fortune in medical insurance.  In December 1960, he became the owner the Kansas City Athletics professional baseball team in Kansas City, Missouri.  He later moved this team to Oakland, California where they became the Oakland Athletics.  However, in Kansas City, “Charlie O” as he was sometimes called — remembered for his promotional antics and not always winning teams — was also responsible for bringing the Beatles to Kansas City in 1964.  The Athletics played their games at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium then, and Finley promised the city’s people he would bring the Beatles to Kansas City during the group’s first American tour that summer.  But Kansas City was not on the list of cities where the Beatles had arranged to perform.

Finely on ticket back.
Finely on ticket back.
     Finley went to San Francisco on August 19, 1964, where the Beatles were playing their first date.  There he met with the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein.  He told Epstein that he was disappointed that Kansas City was not on the Beatles’ itinerary.  He then offered Epstein $50,000 and then $100,000 if the Beatles would schedule a concert for Kansas City.  Epstein refused, pointing out that on the only free date available, September 17, the band was scheduled for a day of rest in New Orleans.  Finley left disappointed, but again encountered Epstein in Los Angeles a week later.  Epstein again rejected Finley’s offer of $100,000, noting that the band wanted to use their only day off to “explore the traditional home of jazz.”  Undetered, Finley tore up the $100,000 check and wrote a new one for $150,000 (equal to about $1 million in today’s money).  Astonished, Epstein excused himself to talk to the group.  John Lennon speaking for his bandmates replied, “We’ll do whatever you want.” So Epstein accepted Finley’s check, and they agreed to play Kansas City.  At the time it was the highest fee ever paid for a musical concert, working out to about $4,838 per minute (or roughly $33,000 per minute in 2009 $$).  When the Beatles performed there they included their version of the song “Kansas City.” They also gave a memorable press conference at the Hotel Muehlebach, available today on CD.

CD of Beatles' 1964 Kansas City press conference.
CD of Beatles' 1964 Kansas City press conference.
     Finley had justified the Beatle’s high-priced recruitment to Kansas City with the quip, “Today’s Beatles Fans Are Tomorrow’s Baseball Fans” — printed on the back of the concert tickets.  Also shown on the back of some of the tickets was a photo of Finley in a Beatle’s wig — which were sold as a fad at the time as part of Beatles’ promotional merchandise.

     At the concert, however, a crowd of 20,207 attended, which was just over half of Municipal Stadium’s full capacity of 35,000 when seats were installed on the field.  The drop off in attendance was due in part to local animosity over Finely’s record with the Athletics and some of his promotional antics, which weren’t always welcomed in the community.  In fact, the local media at the time, and especially The Kansas City Star, suggested boycotting the Beatles’s concert as a way to protest Finley’s unpopular management of the Athletics.  Still, thousands came out, as Beatles’ fans heard a full set of their tunes performed that night.  Finley, meanwhile, who had earmarked profits from the event for Children’s Mercy Hospital, had to write a $25,000 check to cover the minimum donation he had pledged to the hospital in the event that the concert did not earn a profit.
_______________________
Sources: “Charles Finley,” Wikipedia.com; “Can’t Buy Him Love,” Kansas City Public Library; and, Mark Lewisohn, The Beatles Live!: The Ultimate Reference Book, New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1986, pp. 168-69.


Vee-Jay Record’s “Beatles vs. Four Seasons” two-album set, October 1964.
Vee-Jay Record’s “Beatles vs. Four Seasons” two-album set, October 1964.
20 Sept 1964
The Ed Sullivan Show replays broadcast of Beatles’ February 16th appearance on the show.

1 Oct 1964
The Beatles vs. The Four Seasons two-record set is released by Vee-Jay Records.  Package is basically two previous albums — 1963’s Golden Hits of the 4 Seasons and VJ’s Beatles album, Introducing The Beatles. VJ hypes the package as “The International Battle of the Century!”

1 Oct 1964
Book by Brian Epstein, A Cellarful of Noise, is released by Souvenir Press; includes his autobiography and inside account of early Beatles.  Later edition issued in 1998 by Byron Preiss Multimedia Books.

Beatles’ Tour
North America
Aug-Sept 1964

Aug 19    San Francisco
Aug 20    Las Vegas
Aug 21    Seattle
Aug 22    Vancouver
Aug 23    Los Angeles
Aug 26    Denver
Aug 27    Cincinnati
Aug 28    New York
Aug 30    Atlantic City
Sept 2     Philadelphia
Sept 3     Indianapolis
Sept 4     Milwaukee
Sept 5     Chicago
Sept 6     Detroit
Sept 7     Toronto
Sept 8     Montreal
Sept 11   Jacksonville
Sept 12   Boston
Sept 13   Baltimore
Sept 14   Pittsburgh
Sept 15   Cleveland
Sept 16   New Orleans
Sept 17   Kansas City
Sept 18   Dallas
Sept 20   New York

2 Oct 1964
As of this date, ten million Beatles’ records had been sold in the U.S.; their American concert tour had grossed at least $1 million; their film, A Hard Day’s Night, had reaped $5.8 million at the U.S. box office in six weeks.  EMI, their record label, was reporting fiscal year sales of $265 million, up 12 percent largely on Beatles’ business.  Capitol Records was reporting its revenues were up as well, by 17 percent.  Brian Epstein and the Fab Four, meanwhile, were millionaires many times over, with total income earned beyond the U.K. then estimated to be some $56 million.

Atco album, of Beatles' songs and other U.K. artists, October 1964.
Atco album, of Beatles' songs and other U.K. artists, October 1964.

5 Oct 1964
Ain’t She Sweet album is released by Atco Records, an American album featuring four 1961 Beatles tracks from Hamburg, Germany and cover versions by other British groups.

13 Nov 1964
CBS TV shows a 50-minute doc- umentary, “What’s Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A.,” filmed by Albert Maysles, covering the Beatles U.S. tour and other activities that year.

23 Nov 1964
“I Feel Fine” / “She’s a Woman” single released by Capitol Records.

23 Nov 1964
The Beatles Story double LP is released by Capitol Records, billed as “a narrative and musical biography of Beatlemania on two long-play records.”  The albums feature interviews, press conferences, and songs by the The Beatles.  It was The Beatles’ fourth release by Capitol Records.

'The Beatles' Story' album, 1964.
'The Beatles' Story' album, 1964.

1 Dec 1964
Ringo Starr has his tonsils removed at the University College Hospital in London.

15 Dec 1964
Beatles ’65 album is released by Capitol Records featuring 11 Beatles’ cuts, among them: “I’m a Loser,” “Baby’s in Black,” “I’ll Follow the Sun,” “Mr. Moonlight,” “Honey Don’t,” “I’ll Be Back,” “She’s a Woman,” and “I Feel Fine.”

December 1964
Christmas recordings, with Christmas songs and messages from individual Beatles, are sent to fan club members in the U.K and U.S.

'Beatles '65' album, December 15, 1964.
'Beatles '65' album, December 15, 1964.




1964 Grammys

     The 7th Grammy Awards,  held in 1965,  recognized the accomplishments of musicians for the year 1964.  This was the year musically when Barbra Streisand won a Best Vocal Performance award for “People,” and Louis Armstrong for “Hello, Dolly!”; the year Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto won Record of the Year for “The Girl from Ipanema” and songwriter Jerry Herman, Song of the Year, for “Hello, Dolly!” 

     1964 was also the year that Henri Mancini won a Grammy for the “Pink Panther Theme” and Roger Miller took home several Country & Western music awards, while Nancy Wilson won Best Rhythm & Blues Recording, Petula Clark for “Downtown,” and Gale Garnett, Best Folk Recording for, “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine.”  Not to be left out, of course, The Beatles won two awards: Best New Artist and Best Performance by a Vocal Group for “A Hard Day’s Night.”  But the Beatles’ 1964 arrival left its mark on more than music awards.


A Sound of Change

     The Beatles’ bursting onto the music scene of 1963-64 with their numerous popular songs has been described by some historians as a rare “pop explosion” — a musical infusion lasting basically four years, 1963-1967. This Beatles’ infusion, however, produced change that would last much longer than four years, not only in music but more broadly throughout popular culture —  in fashion, literature, politics and beyond.  But it would all start with the music, especially that first flush of Beatles’ songs in 1963-64.  What the Beatles had then, according to rock music historian Greil Marcus writing for The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, “was that elusive rock treasure, a new sound — and a new sound that could not be exhausted in the course of one brief flurry on the charts.”  This new Beatles’ sound, according to Marcus, is best captured in a selection of their 1963-64 tunes, such as: “Please Please Me,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Boys,” “There’s A Place,” “It Won’t Be Long,” “All My Loving,” “She Loves You,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Things We Said Today,” “Eight Days A Week,” among others.  This Beatles’ sound, at that time, was different and unique — exciting, optimistic, playful, and fresh.  Also unique was what the Beatles did together musically —  i.e., their group dynamic; beat, rhythm, vocals, composition, etc. — yielding a very high level of music quality.  It blew away most of the competition.  In fact, what the Beatles had in this case was “so fluid and intelligent,” says Greil Marcus, “that for years they made nearly everything else on the radio sound faintly stupid.”

Bob Dylan
…On the Beatles 

     “We were driving through Colorado [and] we had the radio on and eight of the Top Ten songs were Beatles songs.  In Colorado!  ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ and those early ones.

     “They were doing things nobody was doing.  Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies, made it all valid…  But I kept it to myself that I really dug them.  Everybody else thought they were for the teenyboppers, that they were gonna pass right away.  But it was obvious to me that they had staying power.  I knew they were pointing the direction that music had to go…in my head, the Beatles were it.  In Colorado, I started thinking but it was too far-out.  I wouldn’t deal with it — eight in the Top Ten.

     “It seemed to me a definite line was being drawn.  This was something that never happened before.”
_______________________
Source: “Bob Dylan, 1971,” The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, p. 212.

     Between January and March 1964, the Beatles accounted for 60 percent of all record sales in the U.S.  In 1964 alone, the Beatles put 19 hit songs in the Top 40, and 30 in the Top 100.  They had 15 separate recordings in 1964 — nine singles and six albums — that each sold 1 million or more copies, representing total Beatle sales in the U.S. that one year of more than 25 million copies.  That feat has never been matched.  Many of the Beatles’ songs from 1964 went on to enjoy continued success.  “I Want To Hold Your Hand” would proceed to have worldwide sales of 15 million copies, the largest-selling single in rock history until Elton John’s 1997 version of “Candle in the Wind” for Princess Diana, eclipsed it.  “Can’t Buy Me Love” would have worldwide sales of 6 million; “She Loves You,” 5 million, and several others from that year each surpassing 2 million or more copies.

     On Billboard, the prominent U.S. music chart that reflects single and album popularity and success, the Beatles set a slew of records, most in the March-April 1964 period, but a few of which still stand today.  Among their marks in 1964: most songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time (14); most songs within the Billboard Top 40 ranking at the same time (7, on two occasions); most songs within the Billboard Top 10 and Billboard Top 5 at the same time (5); and most songs charting on the Billboard Hot 100 within a calendar year (30).  On April 4, 1964, Beatles’ singles and albums simultaneously held the top five Billboard singles spots and the top two Billboard album ratings — a record that still stands.

     The Beatles’ impact, of course, goes well beyond their music-chart numbers in 1963-64.  Yet these Beatle years marked a turning point for rock ‘n roll, both musically and as a business.  From their Ed Sullivan Show appearance onward, the Beatles made plain the power of good music meeting the right demographic — in this case, Baby Boomer disposable income.From their Ed Sullivan Show appearance onward, the Beatles made plain the power of good music meeting the right demo- graphic — in this case, Baby Boomer disposable income.   This Boomer market was clearly visible before the Beatles’ pop explosion, but they certainly took it to another level, revealing a gigantic “rock business” segment that would only expand over the next several decades in all manner of ways, from concert touring to MTV and beyond.  In 1964, the Beatles opened the door for other British rockers that helped to change and enlarge the nature of the rock music business globally.  In that year, for example, the Dave Clark Five, Dusty Springfield, the Searchers, Billy J. Kramer, Peter & Gordon, Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Animals, Manfred Mann, the Zombies, Herman’s Hermits, and the Rolling Stones all had Top 20 hits on the U.S. music charts.  It wasn’t just the British sound, of course, as all of rock ‘n roll was going great guns by then — from Motown to the Surf sound, the Beach Boys to the Supremes, Bob Dylan to Marvin Gaye, and many more to come.  But the Beatles had their distinct effects on the music business — influencing the rise of album format in rock music, for example, and also presaging and influencing the music video era with their 1960s’ film-making techniques.  The Beatles were also one of the first acts to package and exploit pop music as a multi-media business opportunity — combining music, television, film, concerts, and merchandising.

Beatles’ "Rock Band" video game, released internationally Sept 2009, features more than 40 Beatles songs.
Beatles’ "Rock Band" video game, released internationally Sept 2009, features more than 40 Beatles songs.

     Today, more than 40 years after the Beatles’ musical explosion of 1963-64, their music from that era is still a cultural and business phenomenon.  As this is written in September 2009, Beatles’ songs from the 1960s are being used again to form the backbone of a giant new Beatles’ business built around family-based video games.  And Beatles’ songs are also soon expected to be available on iTunes and similar digital media.  In any case, the sales of Beatles’ music — whether for video or digital media — will only add to the 1.6 billion singles and albums already credited to their legacy.

     Stay tuned to this website for future stories on the Beatles and their music.  Other Beatles-related stories already at this website include: “The Beatles’ Closed-Circuit Gig, 1964,” “Nike & The Beatles, 1987-89,” “Dear Prudence, 1967-1968,” and “Michael & McCartney, 1980s-2009.” See also, “Beatles History: 1960s-2012,” a topics page with 10 story choices. Thanks for visiting – and please consider supporting this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle

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Date Posted:  20 September 2009
Last Update:  21 January 2014
Comments to:  jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

______________________________

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Beatles in America, 1963-1964,” PopHistoryDig.com,
September 20, 2009.



 

 

Sources, Links & Additional Information

‘Introducing...The Beatles’ was the first Beatles album sold in the U.S., by Vee-Jay Records. Business problems spoiled a planned July 1963 debut, but it did appear on January 10, 1964. Legal issues also plagued the album, but Vee-Jay was permitted to sell it until the fall of 1964, selling more than 1.3 million copies.
‘Introducing...The Beatles’ was the first Beatles album sold in the U.S., by Vee-Jay Records. Business problems spoiled a planned July 1963 debut, but it did appear on January 10, 1964. Legal issues also plagued the album, but Vee-Jay was permitted to sell it until the fall of 1964, selling more than 1.3 million copies.
Beatles' 'Can't Buy Me Love' / 'You Can't Do That' single, Capitol Records, 16 March 1964.
Beatles' 'Can't Buy Me Love' / 'You Can't Do That' single, Capitol Records, 16 March 1964.
Beatles' 'Do You Want to Know A Secret?' single, Vee-Jay, 23 March 1964.
Beatles' 'Do You Want to Know A Secret?' single, Vee-Jay, 23 March 1964.
Beatles’ single, ‘Love Me Do’ with ‘P.S. I Love You,’ April 1964, Tollie Records.
Beatles’ single, ‘Love Me Do’ with ‘P.S. I Love You,’ April 1964, Tollie Records.
Beatles’ ‘Hard Days Night’ single, released by Capitol Records, July 14, 1964.
Beatles’ ‘Hard Days Night’ single, released by Capitol Records, July 14, 1964.
Beatles’ ‘I’ll Cry Instead’ single, released by Capitol Records, July 20, 1964.
Beatles’ ‘I’ll Cry Instead’ single, released by Capitol Records, July 20, 1964.
Beatles’ ‘Something New’ – 3rd Capitol album of 1964, released July 20th. It spent 9 weeks at No. 2 behind then No. 1 Beatles’ 'A Hard Day's Night' album by United Artists.
Beatles’ ‘Something New’ – 3rd Capitol album of 1964, released July 20th. It spent 9 weeks at No. 2 behind then No. 1 Beatles’ 'A Hard Day's Night' album by United Artists.
Beatles’ 'Matchbox' / 'Slow Down' single by Capitol Records, August 24, 1964.
Beatles’ 'Matchbox' / 'Slow Down' single by Capitol Records, August 24, 1964.
Beatles’ ‘I Feel Fine’ / ‘She’s A Woman’ single, Capitol Records, Nov 23, 1964.
Beatles’ ‘I Feel Fine’ / ‘She’s A Woman’ single, Capitol Records, Nov 23, 1964.
Brian Epstein’s book, ‘A Cellarful of Noise,’ released Oct 1, 1964, included his autobiography & inside account of early Beatles. New 1998 edition shown here.
Brian Epstein’s book, ‘A Cellarful of Noise,’ released Oct 1, 1964, included his autobiography & inside account of early Beatles. New 1998 edition shown here.
Poster for Beatles' Washington, D.C. concert, 11 Feb 1964.
Poster for Beatles' Washington, D.C. concert, 11 Feb 1964.
Cover sleeve with Beatle photos on George Martin’s album of May 1965, featuring instrumental versions of Beatles’ songs from the film soundtrack for ‘A Hard Day's Night.’
Cover sleeve with Beatle photos on George Martin’s album of May 1965, featuring instrumental versions of Beatles’ songs from the film soundtrack for ‘A Hard Day's Night.’

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“Nike & The Beatles”
1987-1989

By 1987, Nike had passed 1 billion dollars in sales.
By 1987, Nike had passed 1 billion dollars in sales.
     In 1987, sneaker manufacturer Nike had passed the $1 billion mark in corporate sales.  However, its chief competitor at the time, Reebok, was the world’s No. 1 sneaker company.  Nike was then in the process of revamping its advertising and marketing strategies and had already hooked up with a rising NBA basketball star named Michael Jordan.  The company had also come up with a tag line for promoting a new group of Nike Air athletic shoes — “Revolution in Motion.”  But this campaign  needed some catchy music to use in its TV advertising to help launch the shoe.  That’s when Nike and its advertising agency, Weiden & Kennedy, got the idea of using the Beatles’ classic 1960s’ song,  “Revolution” to help sell the shoes.

     However, Beatles’ music — at least in its original form as sung by the Beatles themselves — had never been used in a TV commercial before.  In one case in 1985 the Beatles’ song “Help!” was used in a Lincoln-Mercury car ad, but the song was performed in that case by a sound-alike group.  Nike’s ad agency, Weiden & Kennedy, wanted the real thing.  “We never considered sound-alikes,” said the agency’s Kelley Stoutt, explaining Nike’s intentions for its “revolution” ad to Time magazine in May 1987.  “In our minds,” said Stoutt, emphasizing the plan to use the original song, “it was the Beatles or no one.”

The Beatles, from left: John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr.
The Beatles, from left: John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr.
     In mid-1987, Nike made a deal to use the Beatles song in their ad campaign shelling out $500,000 to do so.  However, Nike didn’t make the deal with the Beatles, but rather, with pop star Michael Jackson and EMI-Capitol Records.  According to Time, Nike paid $250,000 to the record companies and a similar amount to Jackson to use the song for one year.  Jackson had acquired “Revolution” and 200 other Beatles tunes in 1985 when he paid $47.5 million to an Australian group for a catalog of some 4,000 songs, including the Beatles’ songs.  The Beatles, however, along with their record label, Apple, had decided after  the earlier use of “Help!” in the 1985 Ford Lincoln-Mercury ad, that there would be no more use of Beatles music in advertising.  Yet the Beatles didn’t own the rights to “Revolution” any longer; and Nike had paid its fee to Jackson and Capitol Records for the right to use the song.  How the Beatles lost control of “Revolution” and many of their other songs, and how Michael Jackson acquired them, is covered in part in another story at  this website — see “Michael & McCartney.”  Music publishing rights in the early 1960s were valued somewhat differently, and many performers didn’t always realize the full economic value of their songs.  The Beatles, for their part, had also made a few management mistakes along the way, and were not well served by some of their business partners and managers.  With the right advice at the time, the Beatles might well have retained full and clear control of “Revolution” and their other early songs.  Still, there is much more to this story than space permits here.

Record sleeve cover for the 1968 Beatles’ singles ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Revolution’.
Record sleeve cover for the 1968 Beatles’ singles ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Revolution’.
     In any case, by early 1987, Nike believed it had the legal rights to use “Revolution,” and proceeded to make the ad with the original Beatles music.  The ad began running on television in mid-March 1987.  Then, in the summer of 1987, the three surviving Beatles along with their record label, Apple, filed a lawsuit objecting to Nike’s use of the song.  The suit was aimed at Nike, its ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy, and Capitol-EMI Records.  The TV ad with the music — and there were at least four versions — continued to run as the litigation proceeded.

 

Song History

     “Revolution” was written by John Lennon in the spring of 1968, then a tumultuous time in the U.S. and Europe.  Vietnam War protests and other civil unrest had occurred.  In Paris that May, about the time Lennon wrote the song, student demonstrations had reached a fevered pitch.  A massive strike there and resulting riots led to the collapse of the government of Charles DeGaulle.  Lennon aimed his song at the world’s young revolutionaries, agreeing with their basic beliefs but advocating non-violence.  The song, which became the Beatles first venture into political territory, was recorded in Jully 1968 at Abbey Road studios in London.  It was released on B-side of the “Hey Jude” single in August that year.  The single reached No. 12 on the U.S. music charts.  The song was a product of the recording sessions for the Beatle’s White Album, and in fact, the original slower version of “Revolution,” sometimes called “Revolution 1,” appears on that album.

     The popular and more electric version of “Revolution,” and the one that became the subject of Nike’s advertising interest, was a hard-driving tune for the Beatles, one of the group’s loudest and most aggressive then to date.  It was a good bit different than a lot of their prior material.  In fact, for some, it presaged what would be called “heavy metal” music to come later.  “The Beatles position is that they don’t sing jingles to peddle sneakers, beer, pantyhose or anything else. …They wrote and recorded these songs as artists and not as pitch- men for any product.”
                          – Apple, July 18, 1987.
Still, it was basic rock ‘n roll, opening with a loud electric guitar, followed by Beatle vocals: “You say you want a revolution…,” then more guitars, electric piano, Beatle vocals with some screaming by John Lennon at one point.  But by the mid-1980s, nearly twenty years after the first recording of the song, John Lennon was dead, and Michael Jackson had acquired the song’s rights.  Nevertheless, in court, the surviving Beatles moved to protect their music.

     “The Beatles position is that they don’t sing jingles to peddle sneakers, beer, pantyhose or anything else,”said Apple’s attorney in a statement of July 18, 1987.  “Their position is that they wrote and recorded these songs as artists and not as pitchmen for any product.”  The Beatles charged that Nike “wrongfully traded on the good will and popularity of the Beatles” by using the song.  Capitol-EMI countered by saying the lawsuit was “groundless” because Capitol had licensed the use of “Revolution” with the “active support and encouragement of Yoko Ono Lennon, a shareholder and director of Apple.”  In addition to the legal action, there was also a backlash from Beatles fans to Nike’s use of the song, many saying that John Lennon would have objected.

“Revolution”
1968

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can
count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right
Ah

ah, ah, ah, ah, ah…

You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of
chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with
anyone anyhow
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right
all right, all right, all right
all right, all right, all right

     “If it’s allowed to happen,” said former Beatle George Harrison of the Nike deal in November 1987, “every Beatles song ever recorded is going to be advertising women’s underwear and sausages.  We’ve got to put a stop to it in order to set a precedent.  Otherwise it’s going to be a free-for-all.  It’s one thing when you’re dead, but we’re still around!  They don’t have any respect for the fact that we wrote and recorded those songs, and it was our lives.”  By February 1988, as Nike continued to use the ad and its music while the court fight proceeded, Paul McCartney said:  “[T]he most difficult question is whether you should use songs for commercials.  I haven’t made up my mind.  Generally, I don’t like it, particularly with the Beatles stuff.  When twenty years have passed maybe we’ll move into the realm where it’s okay to do it.”

 

Upbeat & Energetic

     The Nike ads that ran using the “Revolution” music, however, were well received by many who saw them.  One of the ads — showing a collage of quick-cut sports scenes that fit well with the music —  was generally upbeat and energetic.  It was purposely crafted by the producers to have the look of a grainy black-and- white home movie.  They wanted the ad to come across as “a kind of radical sports documentary,” and in 1987-88, it likely had that effect.  It showed a few quick clips of professional, well-known athletes — including very brief appearances of John McEnroe and Michael Jordan.  But there were also lots of shots of amateurs doing their own sports things — from joggers and tennis players, to toddlers, rope skippers, and air guitarists.  Some Madison Avenue managers at the time thought it was a coup for Nike to have used original Beatles’ music in the spot, calling the music “a very, very powerful tool.”  Others weren’t so sure, pointing to the anti-war demonstrations of the Vietnam War era when the song was first aired, suggesting that association might be the more powerful one.

     Meanwhile, as the litigation over the use of the music dragged on, Nike continued to air the ad.  At least four versions of the TV spot were produced and run, including one version with women joggers.  But finally, in March 1988, although the case was still in court, Nike decided to discontinue airing the ads using the “Revolution” song.  More than a year later, in November 1989 the Los Angeles Daily News reported that the “tangle of lawsuits between the Beatles and their American and British record companies has been settled.”  One condition of the out-of-court settlement was that terms of the agreement would be kept secret.  The settlement was reached among the three groups of interests involved: the former surviving Beatles — George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr — John Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono; and the music businesses, Apple, EMI, and Capitol Records.  A spokesman for Yoko Ono noted of the lawsuit and settlement, however,  “It’s such a confusing myriad of issues that even people who have been close to the principals have a difficult time grasping it.  Attorneys on both sides of the Atlantic have probably put their children through college on this.”


Sells Music, Too

Cover sleeve used in South Africa for Beatles' single recordings, "Revolution" and "Hey Jude."
Cover sleeve used in South Africa for Beatles' single recordings, "Revolution" and "Hey Jude."
     Turns out that the Nike “Revolution” ad not only helped to sell lots of Nike athletic shoes, but also helped to sell, re-energize, and introduce the Beatles’ music to a whole new generation of listeners.  In fact, according to one blogger who was in high school at that time, Nike’s ad helped introduce him and his peers to the Beatles’ music.  “As a kid entering high school and discovering music, hearing “Revolution” every night on TV opened my eyes and ears to the whole world of Beatles music,” he writes at his blog, dsicle.com.  “Suddenly, the Beatles weren’t just dusty records on my parent’s shelf, they were current, popular musicians.”  He adds that in 1987 there were certain songs guaranteed to be played at every high school party, including: “Fight For Your Right” by the Beastie Boys, “It’s Tricky” by RUN-DMC, “Lean On Me” by Club Nouveau – and also “Revolution” by the Beatles.  “As amazing as it sounds,” he writes, “a 20 year-old Beatles song was popular with high school kids–no doubt spurred by the Nike Air Max ‘Revolution’ commercial.”

     During the summer of 1987, the Beatles’  White Album, which contained a version of “Revolution,” was released on CD for the first time, reaching No. 18 on the Billboard albums chart nearly 20 years after its original release.

John McEnroe in Nike ad.
John McEnroe in Nike ad.
     In the advertising world, meanwhile, the Nike “Revolution” ad was given high marks, seen as an excellent example of how advertising and iconic music can help with “branding” a product, elevating it in the minds of consumers, and distinguishing it from its competitors.  Some advertising wags even say the 60-second ad played an important role in creating the Nike brand.  The ad’s mixture of famous athletes like Michael Jordan and John McEnroe with everyday, average-person joggers and weekend athletes also had a pointed effect, as author John Katz observes in his 1994 book on Nike, Just Do It:

The message seemed designed to diminish the distance between the greatest athletes and people who play and exercise for fun.  Though Nike dogma would have previously precluded the potential muddying of a great athlete’s image, the carefully contrived commercial ennobled every kid, pro athlete, and duffer who appeared.  With the Beatles in the background, the commercial was like a sixty second celebration.  And the shoes moved out of the stores.

     Indeed, the Beatles’ music, mixed with the powerful sports images, helped give this ad an emotional tone and power, as marketing consultant Tim Glowa observed in 2004:  “This commercial illustrates how television advertising can become the ultimate emotion builder….and demonstrates that a brand can be emotional and thought provoking.”

 

Key Business Event

     Some years later, TheStreet.com, a business-oriented website,  ran a piece commemorating the top 100 business events that shaped the 20th century.  Nike’s Revolution ad made the cut at No. 97.  The Street.com claimed the ad worthy of joining the 100 key events since it helped “commodify dissent,” as the editors put it, creating a new genre of advertising. The Street.com named Nike’s ad to its 100 key  business events of the century, saying it helped “commodify dissent”. “It’s not the first time the ideals of the 1960s — freedom, individuality, anti-materialism, dissent — are called upon to push product,” said the editors.  “But it may stand as the biggest co-optation. …Now it’s almost impossible to escape ads that sell not just products, but breaking the rules, dude.”

     True, like the use of other rock tunes in advertising, Nike’s “Revolution” ad and the litigation that followed, further pushed the envelope on the use of popular music in advertising.  “The Nike ‘Revolution’ use was monumental in many ways,” explained Josh Rabinowitz, director of music at the Grey Group in a 2009 Ad Week piece.  Not only did the ad “resonate with the visuals and concept,” said Rabinowitz, it also “really opened the door to high-concept ads utilizing great — and expensive — music.”  Nike’s Revolution ad also broke ground for “a cottage industry of commercial music-licensing experts and internal commercial-licensing resources,” according to Rabinowitz.  In fact, entire departments in those specializations were created at record labels and music publishers, “because nobody wanted to get embroiled in that type of legal nuisance again.”  Still, there would be more legal battles to come.  Yet by the 1990s, what was once a valiant effort by artists to keep their music out of the commercial advertising arena appeared to be wearing down as more and more songs would be incorporated into advertising.  Stay tuned to this site for those stories and others related to the “music-and-advertising” issue.

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this Website

Donate Now

Thank You

     See other Beatles stories at this website, such as: “Beatles Closed-Circuit Gig, March 1964″  and “Dear Prudence, 1967-1968,” or stories on other advertising campaigns, such as, “The iPod Silhouettes.”  Thanks for visiting. - Jack Doyle

______________________________________________

Date Posted:  27 September 2008
Last Update:  13 December 2011
Comments to: jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Nike & The Beatles, 1987-1989,”
PopHistoryDig.com, September 27, 2008.

___________________________ 



 


Sources, Links & Additional Information

Sheet music for the Beatles 'Revolution.'
Sheet music for the Beatles 'Revolution.'
Jay Cocks,  Elizabeth L. Bland, New York, and Elaine Dutka, Los Angeles, “Wanna Buy a Revolution?,” Time,  Monday, May 18, 1987.

Associated Press, July 18, 1987.

Mark Potts, “Got to Get You Out of Our Life; Former Beatles Sue Over Use of Song in Nike Commercial,” Washington Post, July 29, 1987, p. F-1.

“EMI Calls Beatles Suit `Absurd’,” Washington Post, July 30, 1987, p. E-1.

Janice Kalmar, “Nike Vows to Continue Using Beatles Song in Ads,” United Press International (UPI), August 4, 1987.

Jon Pareles, “Nike Calls Beatles Suit Groundless,” New York Times, August 5, 1987.

Mark Potts, “It’s a Long and Winding Lawsuit; Beatles Seek $80 Million From EMI-Capitol, Also End to `Revolution’ Ad,” Washington Post, August 9, 1987, p. H-1.

Sheet music for the Beatles 'Revolution.'
Sheet music for the Beatles 'Revolution.'
Philip H. Dougherty, “Advertising; Nike Is Persisting In ‘Revolution’ Theme,” New York Times, February 25, 1988.

Los Angeles Daily News, November 9, 1989.

Robert Fontenot, “Revolution: The History of This Classic Beatles Song,” About.com.

David E. Long, “Nike Strikes Up A Revolution,” The Gavel (Cleveland-Marshall College of Law), September 1987.

“The Basics of Business History: 100 Events That Shaped a Century,” The Street.com, December 6, 1999.

Bernice Kanner, “100 Best TV Commercials,” The Chief Executive, June 1999.

“The Beatles Song” at “Nike, Inc.” profile, Wikipedia.org.

“Beatles Buy-Out: How Nike Bought the Beatles’ ‘Revolution.”‘ Dispatch,  November 3, 1994.

Associated Press, “Nike To Kill Beatles TV Ads As Song Rights Challenged,” Ocala Star-Banner, February 25, 1988, p. 7-B.

Dsicle, “Revolution,” Dsicle.com, Monday, September 19, 2011.

Tim Glowa, “White Paper: Advertising Process Models,” North Country Research Inc., Calgary, Canada, June 24, 2002.

Donald Katz, Just Do It: The Nike Spirit in the Corporate World,” New York: Random House, 1994, 336pp

“The 5 Worst (and Best) Ad Songs of All Time,”AdWeek.com, June 2, 2009.





 

“Beatles’ D.C. Gig”
Feb-March 1964

The Beatles' February 11th, 1964 concert at the Washington Coliseum indoor arena in Wash., D.C., their first ever live U.S. concert performance.  Photo: Rowland Scherman, http://www.snapstour.com/
The Beatles' February 11th, 1964 concert at the Washington Coliseum indoor arena in Wash., D.C., their first ever live U.S. concert performance. Photo: Rowland Scherman, http://www.snapstour.com/
     When the Beatles first came to the U.S. in 1964, primarily to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York on February 9th, 1964, they also performed two live concerts.  The first of these concerts — and their first ever in the U.S. — was performed in Washington, D.C. at the Washing- ton Coliseum on February 11th.  Not to be confused with an outdoor athletic-type coliseum, the Washington Coliseum was an indoor arena where professional and college basketball teams played.  Originally built in 1941, it was first named the Uline Arena when it hosted hockey games.  It was renamed the Washington Coliseum in 1959.  It held a capacity crowd of about 7,000 people.  Although the building still stands today near Washington’s Union Station, it is now used as an indoor parking garage. However, it is a protected property by the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board, and is slated for redevelopment.  In the 1960s it hosted a variety of music acts and concerts, of which the Beatles’ February 11th, 1964 concert was one.

Ticket stub to Beatles' first live American concert in Washington, D.C., February 11th, 1964.
Ticket stub to Beatles' first live American concert in Washington, D.C., February 11th, 1964.
     The Beatles also made another live concert appearance during their February 1964 U.S. visit — at New York City’s Carnegie Hall on February 12th.  In New York there were two shows, but in Washington, only one.  However, the D.C. performance was filmed in black and white video by CBS with the permission of the Beatles’ then manager, Brian Epstein.  This filmed version of the live D.C. performance was then packaged into a “closed-circuit” offering by a private company to be aired several weeks later at selected theaters across the U.S.  More detail on these theater showings later.  First, the D.C. performance.

Beatles’ D.C. Concert    

At the Washington Coliseum, the Beatles performed on a boxing-ring stage, changing postion during the show. Feb 11, 1964.
At the Washington Coliseum, the Beatles performed on a boxing-ring stage, changing postion during the show. Feb 11, 1964.
     The February 11th, 1964 concert at the Washington Coliseum, located at 3rd and M Streets N.E., occurred during a cold and snowy night.  It was the Beatles’ first live American performance after their televised appearance on the CBS Ed Sullivan Show.  They had arrived in D.C. earlier that day by train from New York.  Before their show that evening, they also appeared at a brief press conference.  At show time, there was a sold-out, over-capacity crowd of 8,000 fans, by one count.  Before the Beatles came on, there were other opening acts.  Although three groups were advertised to perform as opening acts that night – including the girl group, The Chiffons, and also Tommy Roe and The Caravelles – an East Coast snow storm prevented The Chiffons from getting to Washington.  Although the existing historical record is unclear about which groups actually performed that night as opening and/or intermission acts, Tommy Roe reports that he was there, and performed three songs – “Sheila,” “Everybody,” and “Carol.” Also reportedly appearing that night were Jay & The Americans, The Righteous Brothers, and The Caravelles.  The opening acts were quite good, according to some in attendance that evening.  But when the Beatles came on, the place erupted with screaming and incessant flash bulbs.  They played for nearly an hour.  Because of the set up in the Coliseum, the Beatles were essentially performing on a boxing ring-type stage, and had to move their equipment around on stage a few times in order to give everyone in the audience a chance to see them.  Ringo was seen moving his drum set around on stage between sets.

Beatles Set List
Washington, D.C.
February 1964

Roll Over Beethoven
From Me to You
I Saw Her Standing There
This Boy
All My Loving
I Wanna Be Your Man
Please Please Me
Till There Was You
She Loves You
I Want to Hold Your Hand
Twist and Shout
Long Tall Sally

     Some Beatles afficionados and music critics regard the D.C. performance as a singular event in Beatles history, especially since it captured the group’s fresh and exuberant performance for the first time with a live, American audience — the “big market” the Beatles had dreamed of cracking.  Writes music critic Richie Unterberger:

     “…[H]ere are the early Beatles at their on-stage best.  They’re more visibly delighted, indeed almost overwhelmed, by the crowd’s enthusiasm here than at any time before or since.  Despite the seeming overnight success of their invasion of America, it had in reality been a long hard climb to the top, taking about seven years of diligent work and numerous excruciating setbacks, and also a year or so where they’d made virtually no inroads into the U.S. market despite their mushrooming British superstardom.  This was the payoff, and though the group would get fed up with touring before screaming teenagers within a couple of years, at the Washington Coliseum they were if anything having an even greater time than their admirers….”

Another shot of The Beatles at their February 11th, 1964 concert at the Washington Coliseum arena in Washington, D.C.
Another shot of The Beatles at their February 11th, 1964 concert at the Washington Coliseum arena in Washington, D.C.
     After their live D.C. performance, the group attended a masked ball at the city’s British Embassy.  Reportedly, British Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home decided not to attend for fear of being upstaged by the group.  During the party, an unidentified woman cut off a lock of Ringo’s hair without asking him.  The Beatles stayed at the embassy party for a time and then returned to their rooms at the Shoreham Hotel. Tommy Roe recalls that evening as “chaotic,” noting there were “many agents and celebrities trying to get close to the fab four…” Roe had toured the U.K. about a year earlier, and the Beatles were a featured act on his tour. In D.C., Roe was invited to the Beatles’ suite at the Shoreham Hotel later evening by Brian Epstein, but Roe was soon besieged by friends and colleagues who “wanted me to take them along to meet the boys…” However, visitors to the Beatles’ suite that evening were restricted, although Roe did get in briefly to thank them for putting him on as an opening act. “I remember their suite was packed with press and photographers doing interviews…”

The following day, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, meeting with British Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home at the White House, reportedly said of the Beatles: “I like your advance guard.  But don’t you think they need haircuts?”  The Beatles that day returned to New York by train for their Carnegie Hall concerts — two 25-minute performances before 2,900 fans attending each show.


1964 ad for the Beatles' closed-circuit concerts.
1964 ad for the Beatles' closed-circuit concerts.

The Closed-Circuit Concerts

     However, about a month later, in mid-March 1964, the CBS filming of the Beatles’ live D.C. show — together with separate footage of performances by the Beach Boys and Lesley Gore — was shown in selected U.S. movie theaters as a closed-circuit concert.  Billed in advertising as — “The Beatles: Direct From Their First American Concert” — the complete 90-minute film was transmitted over telephone lines to selected U.S. and Canadian theaters in four separate shows — two each day — over the weekend of March 14th and 15th, 1964.

     The first round of closed-circuit concerts occurred on Saturday, March 14, 1964, and among the receiving theater locations that day, for example, were: the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the Hippodrome Theater in Cleveland, Ohio; the El Monte Legion Stadium in El Monte, California; the Public Auditorium in Portland, Oregon; the Village Theater in Westwood, California;  and many others.  The following day, on Sunday, March 15, 1964, the show went out again to a number of locations, including: the Norva Theater in Norfolk, Virginia; Lake Theater in Oak Park, Illinois; Fox Theater in San Jose, California; and also back in Washington, D.C.  at the Coliseum.  In Albany, New York that weekend, there were three showings at the Palace Theater.  In Indianapolis, Indiana, the Lyric Theater received the show on March 14th and March 15th, as did a big screen theater at the State Fair Coliseum in Dallas, Texas.

     The total audience for the special closed-circuit broad- casts of the Beatles’ concert film was expected to exceed 500,000.  The shows were seen in more than 100 theaters in the U.S. and Canada.  The promoters — identified in advertising as the National General Corporation, or their subisidiary, Theater Color Vision — made millions.  One 1964 estimate placed the take at some $4 million, or roughly $30 million in today’s money.  This Beatles’ concert showing was apprarently the first use of closed-circuit broadcasting for a rock concert, as previously this closed-circuit theater network had been used only for championship boxing matches.

     Excerpts from the film have shown up in numerous video compilations, including The Beatles Anthol- ogy.  In 2003, a company named Passport released a DVD entitled The Beatles in Washington D.C., February 11, 1964.


Master Tape at Auction

     Decades after the Beatles’ February 1964 performances, a reported master tape of the CBS film of the Beatles’ D.C. concert surfaced on the internet, appearing at the website, BeatleSource.com, display- ed in its shipping box.  According to this site, the tape was auctioned off by “It’s Only Rock and Roll” in 2005 to an unnamed bidder for an unspecified price.

CBS Beatles tape in box.
CBS Beatles tape in box.
     In the website’s description of the master tape, however, it is noted: “. . . a variety of poor quality kinescopes trans- ferred to video versions of the [Beatles' D.C.] concert have circulated on bootlegs, imports and, most recently, as a commercially released DVD.  These versions are missing the on-stage announcements and footage of the Beatles running through the audience en route to the stage.  In addition, these inferior copies end abruptly midway through ‘Twist & Shout,’ and are totally missing the finale of ‘Long Tall Sally’ and footage of the Beatles leaving the stage.  Even the footage seen by millions on the Beatles Anthology series was far removed in picture and sound quality from what fans saw in their local theaters in March 1964.”

     The website also notes in its description of this tape: “We can unequivocally say that there exists no other videotaped Beatles concert that remotely approaches the quality of this performance by the Beatles at Washington Coliseum.”

 

DVD of Beach Boys 'lost' concert.
DVD of Beach Boys 'lost' concert.

“Lost” Beach Boys

     There also appears to have been a film excerpt made of the Beach Boys’ portion of this show, which in recent years has been marketed as a separate DVD.  The disc offers 22 minutes of the Beach Boys performance, described in the marketing literature as a “long-lost concert video” only now available.  That Beach Boys’ performance — which was spliced into the Beatles’ closed-circuit film along with the Lesley Gore performance — was originally videotaped by NBC-TV in Burbank, California.  Both of those performances were part of  a separate concert hosted in Los Angeles in late January 1964 by L.A. disc jockey Roger Christian.  But after the Beatles’ closed-circuit TV show was aired, including the Gore and Beach Boys’ portions, the Beach Boys segment remained virtually unseen for decades.  Then in 1998, according to one account, the Beach Boys’ portion, or a version of the original session, was rediscovered and began being sold in June 1999 as a separate DVD.  “Beach Boys fans will be delighted with the quality of the digitally mastered picture and sound,” says one review of “The Lost Concert.”  It also captured the Beach Boys in their early days, when Brian Wilson was featured in the lead, as he would later stop touring with the band.  The DVD also includes cutaway shots that provide a glimpse of what teen audiences were like during the heyday of the surfing craze, according to one description.  “[P]lenty of Gidget hairdos, and a few parents in the crowd, marveling at the frenzy of it all…,” says the description.  Among the Beach Boys’ songs on the disc are: “Fun Fun Fun,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Surfer Girl,” “Surfin’ USA,” “Shut Down,” “In My Room,” and others.  See also, “Early Beach Boys, 1962-1966.”

 

iTunes Video

Poster for Beatles' closed-circuit concert in Providence, R.I., 1964.
Poster for Beatles' closed-circuit concert in Providence, R.I., 1964.
     In late 2010, a high-quality video of the 1964 Beatles’ Washington, D.C. concert was reported to have surfaced in a couple of places, suggesting that it might be the 1964 master tape, or was somehow related to that tape.  In November 2010, Apple, Inc.’s iTunes music service announced that it would begin selling Beatles’ music – singles, albums, and a special boxed set, among other items.  The “Beatles Box Set” – which iTunes was then selling for $149.00 – included 13 remastered Beatles’ studio albums and other Beatles’ music.  The box set was also advertised to include something else: the live 1964 Washington Coliseum Beatles’ concert film.  iTunes reported that it had a “worldwide exclusive” on the film.  Apple at that time was also allowing Beatles fans to stream and view the 1964 concert film from iTunes for free during November and December 2010.

     Then, in December 2010, another report announced that the “not-seen-since-1964″ closed-circuit film – complete with Beach Boys and Lesely Gore segments, Roger Christian’s introductions, and the Beatles’ “Long Tall Sally” concert segment – would be given a special theatrical showing at the American Cinematheque Egyptian Theater in Hollywood on February 11, 2011.  Hosting this screening would be: Alan Boyd, director of the documentary Endless Harmony: The Beach Boys Story; Domenic Priore, author of Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock ’n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood; and Ron Furmanek, a rock ‘n roll film archivist.  “This will be the first time the ENTIRE production has been seen in full since the two days it was screened as a nationwide closed-circuit theater event…”, said the announcement, adding:  “Our test screenings left us bedazzled, feeling as though we had just seen The Beatles in person… it’s that good.”  Since then, however, it is not clear how often the “lost concert” Beatles film was actually aired in U.S., if at all, as a tour of U.S. theaters was promised, but there appears to have been some difficulty in showing the film — at least in some locations.


The Beatles performing live at the Washington Coliseum, February 11, 1964 -- from left, Paul, George, John & Ringo.
The Beatles performing live at the Washington Coliseum, February 11, 1964 -- from left, Paul, George, John & Ringo.
More Innocent Time

     In any event, the Beatles’  in-theater, closed-circuit concerts that were aired in 1964 offer a look at an earlier, more innocent time in the music concert business — and a rare piece of  music industry history.  It also appears that those music fans who attended the 1964 theater showings of the Beatles’  first live U.S. concert — along with the added Beach Boys and Lesley Gore performances — were part of a rare event that occurred only in a limited number of U.S. locations.

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this Website

Donate Now

Thank You

     Other Beatles-related stories at this website include: “Beatles in America, 1963-1964;” “Dear Prudence, 1967-1968;” “Nike & The Beatles, 1987-1988;” “Nike’s Revolution Ad, 1988″ (video clip); “Michael & McCartney, 1980s-2009;” and “Beatles History: Ten Stories.” Thanks for visiting.  - Jack Doyle

___________________________________

Date Posted:  9 July 2008
Last Update:  5 January 2014
Comments to: jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation
(Original Posting) Jack Doyle, “Beatles’ Closed-Circuit Gig, Feb-March 1964,”
PopHistoryDig.com, July 9, 2008.

(Title Change) Jack Doyle, “Beatles’ D.C. Gig,” Feb-March 1964,
PopHistoryDig.com, January 29, 2014.

___________________________________


 

 

Sources, Links & Additional Information

Beatles on the Washington, D.C. mall, Feb 1964.
Beatles on the Washington, D.C. mall, Feb 1964.
Beatles on D.C. mall with U.S. Capitol, Feb 1964.
Beatles on D.C. mall with U.S. Capitol, Feb 1964.
February 1964:  Fans outside the Washington, D.C. Coliseum waiting for the Beatles to arrive. (Photo, Keystone/Getty)
February 1964: Fans outside the Washington, D.C. Coliseum waiting for the Beatles to arrive. (Photo, Keystone/Getty)

Jerry Doolittle, “Beatles Arrive, Teen- Agers Shriek, Police Do Their Duty, and That’s That,” The Washington Post-Times Herald, February 12, 1964, p. 1.

On YouTube.com, there are several videos of the Beatles’ February 1964 performance at the Washington Coliseum. These are typically grainy, black-and-white videos of various lengths, some 30 minutes or more, with shots of the Beatles performing, screaming fans, and the general pandemo- nium of that concert. 

John S. Wilson, “2,900-Voice Chorus Joins the Beatles; Audience Shrieks and Bays and Ululates,” New York Times, February 13, 1964.

“Potential $4 Million Box Office For Beatles On Closed Circuit TV,” Broadcasting, February 24, 1964.

“Closed TV Shows Here for Beatles,” Dallas Morning News (Dallas, TX), March 2, 1964.

Myra MacPherson, “Help! The Day The Mania Came To Washington,” Washing- ton Post, February 7, 1984.

For more detail on Beatles’ tickets, see:   “Closed-Circuit Telecast Tickets,” rare- beatles.com.

Jeff Shannon, Review of Beach Boys “Lost Concert” DVD (June 1999), Amazon.com.

Richie Unterberger, “The Beatles at the Washington Coliseum, Washington, DC, February 11, 1964.” See also his book, The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film, available at Amazon and other booksellers.

For Beatles’ photographs of the 1964 D.C. performance see Rowland Scherman website.

J. Freedom duLac, “Paul McCartney, Al Gore, Tommy Roe Recall Beatles’ First U.S. Concert in D.C.,” Washington Post, December 3, 2010.

News Release, “The Beatles Now On iTunes: All 13 Legendary Beatles Studio Albums & Special Digital Box Set,” Apple.com, November 16, 2010.

David Beard, “The Beach Boys Lost Concert Completely Restored with the Beatles First American Concert Closed Circuit Broadcast,” Endless Summer Quartely.blogspot, December 16, 2010.

Chuck Miller, “Did the Beatles Appear in Albany Movie Theaters BEFORE “A Hard Day’s Night”? Yes They Did…,” TimesUnion.com, January 13, 2011.

See also, Pictorial History Of Uline Arena website for excellent photos of Beatles at D.C. concert (scroll to bottom of page).

WPGC Beatlemania Website.

Tommy Roe, E-mail correspondence to Jack Doyle, January 2, 2014.

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