Thursday, February 01, 2007

This Day in Music History: The Beatles and I Want to Hold Your Hand

On February 1,1964, this day in music history, the dividing line between the rock and roll eras in America was completed. On one side of the line was Bobby Vinton who had the last hit of early era and on the other side was The Beatles with the first hit of the new rock and roll era. That song is I Want to Hold Your Hand. Other performers of the early era would still have hits from time to time over the next year or two but today is the anniversary of the beginning of the British invasion.
Brian Epstein, The Beatles manager, thought he would never get his group to have any hits in the USA. For one year the Beatles had become huge stars in England and the next logical step in their careers was to have them go to America. They were on the EMI label in England and he kept trying to get Capitol, the American label that EMI owned, to put them on their label. Their answer was always no. They said they may be a hit in England but you don’t know how to make records for America. So they licensed some of their songs to smaller labels in America like Swan and Vee Jay records just to give them a presence in the States. Mr. Epstein was not going to give up. He tried one more time when he took a trip to New York and gave a demo tape to Brown Meggs the director of eastern operations for Capitol Records. Mr. Meggs thought the record might do well in America. Before he left New York he met another man. He was a talent scout who saw how big the Beatles were when he was in England. He was at the airport in England when he saw a huge crowd greeting The Beatles when they were returning home from Sweden. When he left New York Mr. Epstein had signed The Beatles to Capitol Records and to a television deal to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show.
I Want to Hold Your Hand was released in England on December 5,1963 and went to #1. When American DJ’s saw how big it was they didn’t want to wait for Capitol to release it in the USA on January 13,1963. Some of them had friends who had been to Britain and bought them copies and they started playing it immediately. Capitol advanced their date to December 26,1963. A few weeks later it was #1 in the USA.
If you scroll down you can see a rare photo of the Beatles back stage at the Ed Sullivan Show.

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