The Beatles were the only two words on anyone’s lips during February of 1964, and in the days leading up to their arrival in New York City, AP reporters were beyond busy keeping up with all the hype. Press conferences like the one shown in the video clip above show how young, naive and completely untrained in handling the media Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were 50 years ago.
AP reporters in 1964 did their best to use the proper slang associated with the British invasion. They interjected terms like “way out” and “fab” into their articles about The Beatles. And everyone–way beyond the AP reporters–talked or wrote about their hair. From “rag top” to “mop top,” practically every person even vaguely familiar with the boys from Liverpool had something to say about their unkempt hair.
The biggest shock to The Beatles upon their arrival in New York was the crowd they encountered at JFK International Airport. The AP reports they were “shocked into momentary immobility as they left their plane to face the American horde. They recovered enough to wave, mug and dance a small jig for their panting audience.”
Paul McCartney, who was just 21 years old back in 1964, was clearly overwhelmed. “It’s marvelous,” he said at a news conference. “It’s fantastic! We’ve never seen or had anything like this before. It’s the best ever.”
A few people who met The Beatles’ plane at JFK weren’t the least bit enamored with the band. In fact, they didn’t like them at all, and made sure their sentiments were shared with a few cardboard signs.
“Beatles Go Home,” some of the signs read.
At least one said, “We Love Beethoven.”
Only 100 police officers were dispatched to JFK to keep the peace and make sure The Beatles made their way from the airport to The Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City where they commenced rehearsing for their big American TV debut. Can you imagine how many officers would be needed were they alive and touring today?
1964 was a monumental year–not only for The Beatles, but for the whole music scene as well. It was forever changed–and according to rock and roll lovers–for the better, too.
It was exciting to see the two remaining Beatles–Paul McCartney and Ringo Star come together once again at the Ed Sullivan Theater fifty years after they first came to America–on the CBS special Sunday evening. It really seemed like John Lennon and George Harrison were there at the theater, too, if only in spirit and in the memories of their band mates, family members and fans.
Image via Wikimedia Commons