… the second of this week’s major rock & roll anniversaries was on Friday, February 7th … the 50th anniversary of the arrival in the United States of … the first wave of the “British Invasion” … THE BEATLES.
The Beatles, of course, changed rock & roll forever … and in the process profoundly changed the United States in ways the consequences of which continue to this day.
John, Paul, George & Ringo … last names not necessary … came to the U.S. while the country was deep in mourning over the then recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy … and provided, at least for the younger generation of Americans, a welcome diversion from the melancholy which had gripped the country.
Because I was in the midst of “gloom period” (the post-Christmas leave, mid-winter period of cold, snow & early darkness) of my plebe year at West Point, I was not a spectator … either directly or even by way of television … at the arrival of the Beatles.
But, thousands of Americans … mostly teenagers or journalists … greeted the band on its arrival at the recently renamed John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City.
After their arrival, the Beatles participated in a press conference with New York disc jockey Murray Kaufman … “Murray the K” … who came to refer to himself as “The 5th Beatle”. Kaufman hosted the “1010 WINS New York” evening time slot … and was (along with Bruce “Cousin Brucie” Morrow) one of my favorite DJ’s of the rock & roll era.
The Beatles went on to make American television history with their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9th … with 73 million viewers … a staggering 40% of the total American population … and the largest recorded TV audience for a single show ever up to that time.
Like many young Americans, I bought every Beatles album as it was released … at least until I graduated from West Point … at which time I unwisely sold most of my record albums, including all of my Beatles albums, to underclassmen.
Although I was never as much a fan of the Beatles as I was of others who they credited with making their success possible … including Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley … and did not like most of their post-1966 recordings … I do, to this day, enjoy their early recordings … such as …
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” … “Love Me Do” … and “I Saw Her Standing There” … which provided temporary relief from the drudgery of life as a West Point plebe … and which still bring a smile to my face when I hear them.
The Beatles on Wikipedia:
The Beatles arrive in the U.S. on Wikipedia:
How popular were the Beatles albums?