The Beatles Were Welcomed By Screaming Fans in America 60 Years Ago

The Beatles (left to right: Ringo Starr, George Harrison (1943 - 2001), John Lennon (1940 - 1980), and Paul McCartney) step off the aeroplane which brought them back from their tour of the United States
Central Press/Getty Images

Beatlemania began in the United States 60 years ago. Thousands of screaming fans lined up to get a glimpse of the Fab Four, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, during their very first trip to America. They were landing in New York ahead of their live TV debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. Fans had been tipped off by radio DJs of the intense fame the Beatles were achieving in the U.K. and encouraged fans to greet them at the airport. Around 3,000 to 5,000 people showed up, many of them high school girls who skipped school to be a part of history.

The young men, then in their 20s, couldn’t believe how many people showed up, especially in a country they had never been to before. People held up signs of varying degrees, from “We Love You!” to “Beatles Unfair to Bald Men.”

10th February 1964: Two excited girls in Beatles sweatshirts, amongst a crowd of fans in New York, welcoming the group as they arrive at the airport.

Keystone/Getty Images

McCartney shared, “At the airport press conference, we found that the American reporters were obsessed with our hair. They asked if we were going to get haircuts. George replied that he’d had one the day before. That still makes me smile. It was just perfect, because once they saw that we weren’t going to be scared of them, they loved throwing their questions at us, and we would bat them right back. It became a fun little game.” The press conference went off without a hitch and soon the Beatles were on their way to the Plaza Hotel, where police officers had to work around the clock to keep the crowds under control.

31st August 1966: The Beatles disembark from an aeroplane at London Airport in the early morning, on return from their American tour. They are, from the bottom up, Ringo Starr, John Lennon (1940 - 1980), Paul McCartney and George Harrison (1943 - 2001)

Keystone/Getty Images

After some sightseeing, the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and it was a huge hit. Over 50,000 people requested to get tickets for the show, when there were only 728 spots. Those lucky enough to attend in person got a real treat. The rest of the fans got to see it on television and over 73 million viewers tuned in live. A few days after the show, they had their first official U.S. concert at the Coliseum in Washington D.C., then performed two shows at Carnegie Hall in New York. The British Invasion had begun.

TV Guide Specials
Want More?

TV Guide Specials

The Beatles on TV

Celebrate the lasting legacy of the Fab Four with this unique issue dedicated to their history-making television appearances.

Buy This Issue