By Daniel Fickman

Sources

Mulchrone, Vincent. “This Beatlemania.” The Daily Mail 21 Oct. 1963

Spitz, Bob. “Chapter 23/ So This Is Beatlemania.” The Beatles: The Biography. New York City: Little, Brown, 2005

Beatles Invade America. Perf. The Beatles. Universal, 1964. Newsreel

Strongin, Theodore. “The Beatles, “Musicologically”” The New York Times 10 Feb. 1964

Schneider, Cary. “What the Critics Wrote about the Beatles in 1964.” www.latimes.com. N.p., 9 Feb. 2014. Web.

Kaplan, Fred. “Teen Spirit: What Was so Important about the Beatles’ Appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show?” www.slate.com. N.p., 10 Feb. 2014. Web.

 

The Birth of Beatlemania

Many music fans, journalists, and reporters debate who coined the term, “Beatlemania.” The first printed use of the term seems to have appeared in The Daily Mail, a British middle-market tabloid newspaper, on Oct. 21, 1963. The headline, “This Beatlemania” ran above a feature article written by Vincent Mulchrone. Underneath the headline Mulchrone asked, “Would you let your daughter marry a Beatle?”

About a week before this article appeared, Beatlemania really began to spread throughout the UK. The Beatles’ Oct. 13, 1963, performance on “Val Parnell’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium” made them a fixture on the nation’s front pages. And although they busted out No.1 hits including “From Me To You,” and “Twist and Shout,” it wasn’t the music that caught everyone’s attention. It was the extreme fandom surrounding them. If you watch the original recording you’ll notice that The Beatles could barely hear themselves playing.

No one had ever seen anything like this. Eyewitnesses spoke to The Daily Herald in London remarking that they saw screaming girls launching themselves at police, “sending helmets flying and constables reeling.” In a matter of months, Beatlemania was set to reach a fever pitch when The Beatles made their way over to America, kicking off the British invasion.

 

 

It was 50 years ago today…

In January 1964 “I Want to Hold Your Hand” became the band’s first No.1 hit in the U.S. Also in January TV talk show host Jack Paar gave Americans their first prime-time glimpse of Beatlemania in the UK by showing clips of their concerts and crazed fans. Excitement and anticipation was through the roof.

The British invasion truly began on Feb. 7, 1964. The Beatles arrived at JFK airport in New York City to kick off their United States tour, and they were greeted by thousands of screaming fans. Two days later one of the most important moments in rock n’ roll history occurred on “The Ed Sullivan Show.

On February 9, 1964 The Beatles made their U.S. television debut. A record-breaking 70 million viewers tuned into “The Ed Sullivan Show” to watch the fab four from Liverpool change the face of popular music in the United States. Interestingly enough, however, critical reaction to this legendary performance was mixed at the time.

On Feb. 11, 1964, one Los Angeles Times critic wrote that they were a “press agent’s dream combo.” The critic then doubled up on that insult by stating, “Not even their mothers would claim that they sing well.” On Feb. 10, Theodore Strongin who wrote for The New York Times claimed that, “The Beatles’ vocal quality can be described as hoarsely incoherent, with the minimal enunciation necessary to communicate the schematic texts.”

Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Ed Sullivan John Lennon, Paul McCartney

The Beatles performing on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” “For Educational use only.”

 

Roll Over Beethoven

In 2004, the 40th anniversary of “The Ed Sullivan Show” appearance, Fred Kaplan, a writer for Slate, reflected on why that specific television performance was so important in terms of U.S. pop culture.

“The Beatles took hold of our country and shook it to a different place because they were young, because their music had a young, fresh feel, and because—this is the crucial thing—our parents didn’t get it,” Kaplan stated. “The day after that Sullivan show, every boy came to school with his hair combed down as far as he could manage (which, in most cases, wasn’t very far). Some went out and bought Beatle wigs. Or saved up to buy a guitar and then got together with friends to form a band.” Kaplan also made the interesting point that most popular music before 1964 sounds ancient, while most popular music that came after that point still sounds modern today.

Regardless of what the critics said at the time, one thing is for sure: The Beatles elevated popular music in a way that had never been done before.

 

Daniel Fickman is a journalism senior. He can be reached at dbf18@txstate.edu

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