Beatlemania in the 1960s


The Beatles were a mystical happening that many people still 
don't understand. Phenomenoligists had a ball in 1964 with 
Beatlemania, a generally harmless form of madness which came from 
Britain in 1963. The sole cause of Beatlemania is a quartet of young 
Englishmen known as the Beatles. In the less than one year that they 
achieved popularity in England to the time they came to America, The 
Beatles achieved a popularity and following that is unprecedented in 
the history of show business in England. They became the first 
recording artists anywhere in the world to have a record become a 
million-seller before it's release. They became the target of such 
adoration by their fans that they had to cancel all one-night bookings 
because of riots in early 1964. Beatlemania had reached unbelievable 
proportions in England, it became a form of reverse lend-lease and 
spread to the United States. Capitol records followed the Beatles' 
single record with the release of an album, "Meet the Beatles," in 
late January of 1964. That event was followed by the Beatles 
themselves, who arrived in New York February 8, 1964 for three 
appearances with Ed Sullivan. The first show was scheduled for Sunday, 
February 9, the second was telecast from Miami a week later, and the 
third pre-taped for an airing in March. These concerts were the most 
watched television programs ever (70 million viewers) until recently. 
The Beatles' arrival in the United States was presaged by a deluge of 
advance publicity. Newsweek, Time, and Life have chronicled 
Beatlemania, UPI, and the AP(Associated Press) had done their part for 
the cause (including an AP wirephoto of J. Paul Getty sporting a 
Beatle wig), and even Vogue shoved high fashion aside momentarily in 
it's January, 1964 issue and carried a full-page photo of the group. 
Baltimore's respected Evening Sun took notice of the coming of the 
Beatles on it's editorial page at that time. Said the Sun: "The 
Beatles are coming. Those four words are said to be enough to jelly 
the spine of the most courageous police captain in Britain... Since, 
in this case, the Beatles are coming to America, America had better 
take thought as to how it will deal with the invasion... Indeed, a 
restrained 'Beatles, go home,' might be just the thing." Precisely 
how, when, and where Beatlemania got started nobody- not even their 
late manager Brian Epstein(who died of a drug overdose in 1967) can 
say for sure. The Beatles are a product of Liverpool, which had a 
population of some 300 rock and roll bands( or "beat groups," as 
Liverpudlians are wont to call them). The beat groups hawked their 
musical wares in countless small cellar clubs, old stores and movie 
houses, even in a converted church, nearly all of which are in 
proximity to the Mersey River. Out of all these groups came, somehow, 
the Beatles. And they had to go to Germany to do it. In order to 
better their Liverpool take-home pay of around $15. per week apiece, 
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo (so called 
because of his penchant for wearing at least four rings) Starr took a 
tramp steamer to Hamburg and a job which moved them up a bit 
financially, if not in class. There, in a raucous and rowdy strip 
joint, the Indra Club, the Beatles became the first entertainers to 
play louder than the audience. There, too, they were "discovered" by 
English promoter and talent agent, Brian Epstein, who has since become 
deservedly known as "the fifth Beatle." Under Epstein's shrewd 
guidance, the Beatles soon found themselves signing a contract with 
Britain's giant Electric & Musical Industries, Ltd., the largest 
recording organization in the world and major stockholder in Capitol 
Records, Inc.; headlining concerts throughout Britain; and appearing 
on television. Their first recording, "Love Me Do," was issued by 
EMI's Parlophone label in October, 1962. It sold a respectable 100,000 
copies, and it was the last time a Beatle single sold less than half 
million copies. The first million-seller, "She Loves You," came out in 
the spring of 1963. It was followed by two albums, "Please, Please Me" 
and "With the Beatles." Both LP's sold over 300,000 copies.1 Then, 
finally, came the unprecedented success of the newest single record, 
"I Want to Hold Your Hand." In between there was three extended play ( 
a 45 r.p.m. disk containing four tunes) recordings which also racked 
up sales of several hundred thousand apiece. All this resulted in what 
is universally known in Britain as Beatlemania and, as Newsweek said 
of young Liverpudlians, "the sound of their music is one of the most 
persistent noises heard over England since the air-raid sirens were 
dismantled." Their popularity reached a head of sorts when, in 
November of 1963, at the request of the Royal Family, The Beatles 
headlined the annual command performance at the Prince of Wales 
theater. It was a glittering affair and, probably out of deference to 
attending royalty (including the Queen Mother-she found them "young, 
fresh, and vital" - and Princess Margaret), notable for the absence of 
even a small riot. Despite their apparent appointment as Purveyors of 
Rock and Roll to the Crown, the Beatles have taken the whole thing in 
stride. Said Beatle John Lennon to the lords and ladies at the command 
performance: "People in the cheaper seats clap your hands, the rest of 
you just rattle your jewelry." It was not only their good looks and 
wonderfully unique music that made them so popular with the young 
ladies (and men too!). It was their witty charm that was reflected in 
the quote from the Royal Command Performance. Here is part of what was 
said at LaGuardia airport on February 7, 1964: "Will you sing for us?" 
someone asked. "We need money first," John Lenin shot back. "What's 
your message for American teenagers?" "Our message some more 
Beatle records," returned Paul McCartney. "What about the movement in 
Detroit to stamp out the Beatles?" "We're starting a movement to stamp 
out Detroit." "Do you hope to take anything home with you?" 
"Rockefeller Center." "What do you think of Beethoven?" "I love him," 
said Ringo Starr. "Especially his poems." "Don't you guys ever get a 
haircut?" "I just got one yesterday," retorted George Harrison. Added 
Ringo: "You should have seen him the day before." There's a little bit 
of Beatle history. One could say that they did not just come out of 
nowhere , like many people believe. It took hard, diligent work to go 
where they went. Because of this "Came out of nowhere to steal the 
hearts of young girls" quote that was often used in the 1960's, many 
psychiatrists felt the need to examine further. Anthony Corbett, a 
noted English psychologist praised the Beatles as having provided "a 
desperately needed release for the inhibitions which exist in all of 

 Dixon Scott of the London Daily Mirror interviewed a 
well-known psychiatrist (unnamed because of medical ethics) in an 
attempt to get to the root of Beatlemania. "We are all chaotic and 
mixed up inside," the psychiatrist told Scott. "We are anxious to have 
a greater freedom to live. We have a greater feeling of the need to 
express the past we have been controlled 
automatons...but you cannot hold nature back forever. All the parts in 
use had to seek an outlet and rhythm is one of these outlets...then 
along came the Beatles with their fresh beat and fresh innocence." The 
psychiatrist then came to the crux of the problem: "A revolution is 
taking place," he said. "It amounts to freedom with a sense of 
responsibility and honesty. The fans recognize the honesty that shines 
from the Beatles." "While other pop stars have thought in artificial 
terms of reaching out to their audiences, the Beatles are giving 
honestly, as well as receiving." In a lengthy article in the New York 
Times, Frederick Lewis of that paper's London bureau, examined the 
sociological implications of Beatlemania and came up with other 
theories. "They (The Beatles) are working class and their roots and 
attitudes are firmly of the north of England. Because of their 
success, they can act as spokesman for the new, noisy, 
anti-establishment generation which is become a force in British 
life," Lewis wrote. "The Beatles are part of a strong-flowing reaction 
against the soft, middle class south of England, which has controlled 
popular culture for so long." Beatlemania has touched all corners of 
English and American life and all types of people. Obviously , it had 
an enormous effect on America. The proof can be shown in the millions 
upon millions of records they have sold in the last 32 years that they 
have been making records (in the present tense because they are still 
releasing records today). In the first Beatles fanzine in America, it 
shows how crazy America was at this time over the Beatles. It has life 
stories, full page pictures, how to do the Beatle dance, and the 
Beatle haircut. The big contest was to win a call from the Beatles. 
And at the end there was some wallet size photos for the girl's 
purses. It is obvious that the Beatles influenced everyone's lives. 
From the shrieking girls, to the parents of those girls, and the 
police officers that tried their best to contain the 
uncontrollable(girls). Their popularity diminished after they stopped 
touring in 1966, which was due to the strain and stress of touring 
that they had endured. But their impact was to last forever. The 
wanting of the reunion has been so big that they are reuniting to 
collaborate for a new album. It will undoubtedly be a best seller. 
After all these years, people still love them. 1 According to "The 
Beatles"- The first American Beatle Fan-zine. 2 All quotes courtesy of 
"The Beatles"- The First American Beatle Fan-zine.


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