The Myth About Beatlemania
Most of us in the USA believe beatlemania began in 1964 because that is when the were watched by 72 million on Ed Sullivan. However, the frenzy and chaos of thousands of screaming teenage girls began much earlier.
The first cases of this phenomena began to appear in the Summer of 1962. That is when they had returned from their Hamburg gig at the Star Club. The Beatles were already THE band in northern England, especially around Liverpool, where they frequently sold out at the underground club, The Cavern. That is when the line just to get into the club went around the block and police were in crowd control. The frenzy that later happened did not happen yet, the cavern was packed and the fans simply watched their idols. A few screams but overall just whistles and clapping. The Beatles played at a new gig nearly everyday in the Northern England area. They were not known much in the other parts of England, although, promoters were aware something was brewing up north.
In 1963, Beatlemania went up several more notches because they had songs on the radio and their first #1, Please, Please, Me. Then another mega hit, She Loves You, and yet, another, From Me to You. Their fan base now started to include kids in the London area and much of England was aware of them. It was more often than not, girls would be screaming at the top of their lungs, some fainted, others cried out of pure joy. They loved them. Promoters in the London area still hesitated in booking them until their legions of fans simply demanded them to book them there. That is when England was hit with it. Beatlemania swept the country. They were all over the place and on the charts. The height was reached when they played their Royal Performance for the Queen. They were certainly more popular than her and the Beatles' John Lennon was at his most humorous with the comment telling the rich patrons to "rattle" their jewelry instead of clapping. That brought them into royal acceptance and no one could walk away not liking them.
America, was an entirely different music scene. Few British artists made it here. In 1963, the Beatles tried several times to get their songs airplay on Vee-Jay and Swan records. Both, small labels of Capitol Records, which had little interest. The songs simply entered the chart into upper 90's of a Top 100 and were forgotten. Their Vee-Jay LP, only 5000 copies were made. They released two VJ LPs in 1963, nothing happened. Their singles went nowhere, while the Beach Boys were in the Top 5.
It all changed in February 1964, when the Beatles played on Ed Sullivan for $3500. The same singles and LPs that VJ had tried to sell a year earlier all went to #1. Capitol Records was firmly in the Beatle camp. The frenzy and Beatlemania of their arrival at JFK and their concerts are still, today, unbelievable in the volume of screams, fainting, crowd control that simply dismayed the band. They, too, had never experienced this on such a big scale. One could barely hear the music.
Beatlemania continued well in 1965 and 66. The first ever rock concert at Shea baseball stadium is a must watch for all, which documents this phenomena of 56,000 screaming fans, breaking down the fence, police, racing to the platform, so loud, John was yelling at Paul a few feet away about the lyrics. They simply could not hear themselves. The medics arrive to revive distraught and fainting girls. It is astonishing to watch.
By 1967, the band hunkered down in the studio. They never lost the fans then or now. But everyone had grown up a bit and this is when Beatlemania diminished.
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