The four members of the British hit band, the Beatles, have arrived in New York at the start of their first tour of the United States. The young men, with their now infamous mop-head hairstyles, stepped onto the tarmac at Kennedy Airport just after 1300 local time. There were more than 3,000 screaming teenagers at the airport. Many had skipped school or work. Some were in tears and some were carrying placards with phrases such as "I love you, please stay".
The Beatles’ first scheduled appearance will be on American television on Sunday on the Ed Sullivan show. He apparently booked them to appear after seeing the huge crowds who greeted their return to Heathrow from Sweden last October.
More than 5,000 fans applied for tickets to be part of the audience for the live show – only 750 were lucky enough to get them.The Beatles – Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison – received maximum police protection, the kind of arrangement usually produced for kings and presidents.
There were security barriers too, without which, the Beatles would almost certainly have been crushed by the throng of screaming women. Elsewhere in the United States, excitement over the Beatles’ arrival has reached almost fever-pitch. Their songs are playing constantly on radio stations, in shops and other places of work.
Millions of Beatle records have already been sold and a company called Puritan Fashions Incorporated, which describes itself as "the only exclusive official licensed manufacturer of Beatle wearing apparel" is marketing T-shirts, sweat shirts, turtle-neck sweaters, tight-legged trousers, night shirts, scarves and jewellery inspired by the Beatles.
Beatle wigs are also for sale at $2.99 each – or the equivalent of one guinea.
The Beatles were the first British band to break into the American market. Their appearance on the Ed Sullivan show reportedly led to a dip in the crime rate to a 50-year low as 73 million people or 40% of Americans tuned into watch. They performed the songs All My Loving, Till There Was You, She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There and I Want To Hold Your Hand.
The band appeared twice on the Ed Sullivan show and their performances still rate as the second and third most-watched programmes in the history of US TV. Only the 1983 final episode of Korean war comedy MASH achieved more viewers
In February 2004, the Beatles were given the President’s Award at the Grammys to mark the 40th anniversary of what became known as "Beatlemania". It was accepted by the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.
Text from BBC’s On This Day