The Beatles: Readers remember Beatlemania 50 years later
The Beatles: 50 years later
Readers remember Beatlemania, 50 years later
The Beatles: John Lennon, left, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison arrive at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Feb. 7, 1964, for their first U.S. appearance. More photos
50 years ago, the Beatles took the States by storm. Their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" kicked off a bicoastal tour, including a show at L.A.'s Hollywood Bowl. Share your earliest memories of Beatlemania using the form below.
By Los Angeles Times readers
Jan. 31, 2014
Yes! I watched the news reports about the Beatles' arrival in NYC on February 7, 1964. My parents and I sat in our living room on Sunday evening and watched them on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Loved them! My dad called them "those long-haired jerks from Liverpool," but he took me to see them at the Hollywood Bowl in '65 & Dodger Stadium in '66. They sold the '65 tickets via mail and an order blank published in the LA Times. Tickets ranged from $3 to $8. My dad asked me which ones I wanted. I knew I was pressing my luck just to go, so I said $4. He said okay, wrote the check, sealed the envelope and went to the post office to mail it. After I dropped it in the slot, he told me he would have got me the $8 tickets! I asked why he didn't, and he said I only asked for $4 tickets. That was my first lesson in negotiating. I was 12 years old. I went on to be a teachers' union president during the worst bargaining crisis my local association ever faced. That lesson served me well. I still go see Paul McCartney every time he appears in LA. Once a Beatlemaniac, always a Beatlemaniac!
— Clyle Alt, Monterey Park
I remember that I was in 5th grade and my best friend's mother wouldn't let her watch them on "Ed Sullivan." I urged her to run away from home because her parents were sooooo uncool!
— Janine Zone, Los Angeles
I remember watching the Beatles debut on Ed Sullivan Sunday Night, February 9th, 1964. I was 12 years old. I even remember having Chinese Food from Chung King Inn that dad brought home for us while watching the show. LOL Being raised in a show biz environment, my parents were very cool and loved the performance too! I also remember going to the Hollywood Bowl when they performed there. At that time the Bowl had a pond in front of the stage and girls were jumping in and trying to swim to the stage to reach the boys. My bedroom walls were covered with Beatles album covers and my girlfriends and I would write stories about us meeting them and becoming their girlfriends. We knew every song, note by note! Ah the good old days! Beatles Forever!
— Jayne Weiss, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
The Beatles, clockwise from top center, John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, pose with an American flag in a Paris photo studio prior to their first visit to the United States in 1964.
I was 10 years old and in the 5th grade. My father was in the Air Force and we were stationed at an Air Force Base in Goose Bay, Labrador, which at the time was a desolate tour of duty in snow-laden country. There was access to one television station and it was only on so many hours per day.
Lucky for me one of those times was on the Sunday evening that the Beatles made their first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." My whole family watched and for me — being the oldest child — it was a magical moment and one of hysterical screaming at the TV! Living in this isolated region, this moment shared with thousands made me feel that I was part of something big and new! And the Beatles have been a part of my life ever since!
— Lorraine J. Dion, Dover, Del.
I got my first transistor radio when I was ten, I think on my birthday in December of 1962. I became hooked on pop music: Jay Black and the Americans, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Major Lance, Gary US Bonds. I remember hearing the Beach Boys in the summer of 1963 and “He’s a Rebel” produced by Phil Spector. But I remember feeling that there must be something else. Sometime in January of 1964, I was listening to my trusty transistor, probably listening to WFUN in Miami, Florida, when “I Want To Hold Your Hand” came on the radio. The DJ said that this was a new group from England called the Beatles and that we were going to hear a lot more about them or a lot more from them. I remember thinking, “I like that song!”
A classmate had clipped out a picture of the Beatles from the newspaper, the photo where Paul is holding a cigarette while sitting on Ringo’s lap. They were going to be on the Ed Sullivan Show from the Deauville Hotel. Right then I picked Paul as my favorite, learned that Ringo was called Ringo because he wore a lot of rings and I got George and John mixed up for a few days.
The next time I saw them was on the Ed Sullivan Show. My eyes popped out of my head. I had never seen guys like this before! My step-father and mother were sitting in back of me on the couch, and I sat in front of the television. I remember my mother calling the girls who were screaming “idiots.” Her “idiot” daughter was sitting in front of the TV with tears streaming down her cheeks.
I really wanted to see them. My step-father had a friend who worked in the Deauville kitchen, but his friend said don’t bother to come down -- it’s too crazy. And, unfortunately, I never got to see the four of them together. I was too young and it was too crazy!
Even though there has been heartache loving the Beatles – John being murdered – I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
The 60s was the best time to be a teenager who loved music: Beatles, Motown, Soul, R&B. It was tremendous!
— Deborah Lawrence, Boston, Mass.
Left: Girls Go Bug-eyed as the Beatles Perform, Feb. 10, 1964. (Los Angeles Times) Right: Scenes from the Beatles' Feb. 9, 1964, performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." (CBS / Associated Press)
I was 7 years old and living in New York City when the Beatles arrived and performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show." We watched every show and this one was special for me. When I saw all the girls screaming and crying in the audience, I remember saying to my parents, "I wish I was older so I can be on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' and scream for the Beatles just like those teenagers." The Fab Four are my #1 band to this day!!! I still have their original Greatest Hits album in my vinyl collection.
— Barbara M. Gonzalez, Coral Gables, Fla.
I was teaching high school journalism and English in Long Beach, CA, in 1963, and all of my 10th grade female students began to wear badges with names and photos of their Fave Rave Fab Five. All of a sudden the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean were old school. Everybody was humming "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Twist and Shout." My son, who was in kindergarten, became an instant fan, and has remained so for over 50 years now. He claims there's nobody who can rival him at Beatles Trivia, and I believe him.
— Terri Elders, Colville, WA
I was at Newport, RI in Naval OCS in the fall of 1963 and Jan 1964. In January the Beatles woke us every morning at 5:30 AM. On Feb 7th we graduated from OCS as Ensigns and I caught the bus to JFK (it had just been renamed) and arrived there about the time the Beatles arrive at the PanAm terminal. I missed them there but I met my wife in New Orleans and watched them on Ed Sullivan on Sunday night. The next day we packed our little red MGB and headed to a very exciting and rewarding three years of Navy life. Viet Nam rather interrupted the early Beatles years for us but we have all the music and still love them.
— Philip Andrews, La Canada, Calif.
Maybe it was in the air...I don't how I knew; I don't remember hearing about it, but I was not going to miss Ed Sullivan on Sunday night, February 9, 1964. I sat in front of the TV with my back to my brother and parents, and as they began to play, I remember just being mesmerized by them--an excitement so new, so strong, so, happy!--and at 9 years old, I recognized it, felt it--as did the rest of the world who saw The Boys on that wonderful night almost 50 years ago. I've always said that I was born at the right time--I saw The Beatles--I have NEVER underestimated their positive influence on my life and love of making music. They were the real deal.
— Theo Moreno, Cambria, Calif.
The Beatles perform on CBS' "The Ed Sullivan Show" in New York on Feb. 9, 1964. (Associated Press)
I had just turned 19, and was head-over-heels in love with their music. To me, it was the perfect combination of Buddy Holly & the Crickets and the Everly Brothers. I sat on the floor in front of the TV completely entranced as they performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show." I thought I would die of rapture when Paul McCartney sang "Till There Was You." A year later, I was married and very pregnant as I stood in a long line at the theater to see "A Hard Day's Night." I remember being extremely angry that the "teeny boppers" in the crowd would not stop screaming so I could hear the music! Still, it was worth it. I grew and changed as they and their music grew and changed, and I loved it all and still do. The Beatles were magic. That's all there is to it.
— Toni McNulty, Mineola, Texas
In Detroit, waiting for the Ed Sullivan show to come on our behemoth B&W TV/Hi-Fi, our next door neighbor came over to watch,along with a bunch of others and their kids. She was from Scotland, and when the Beatles performed, she apologized to all of us in the room for those ""rag-a-muffins"" from Liverpool. Hilarious. Once the first note was played, we were hooked, and every kid in the room was dancing. In between their sets on the show, we managed to drag pots & pans out of the kitchen for drums.
Inspired ever since, I became really interested in Paul's rumored death, and all the clues. Detroit played a big role in that scene. Great memories, and my kids are now Beatle fans.
Thanks for your story. Keep up the great work!
— Brian Barry, Moorpark, Calif.
My earliest memory of the Beatles was when I was 7. My babysitter ran to my house out of breath and begged my mother to play it on her hi fi, it was a 45 of She Loves You! Mom was more in to show tunes and the like, but listened politely. Every time my sitter came she brought the latest Beatle record and educated me about the latest British import with all the enthusiasm only a teenager could have. She taught me how to dance the pony and the jerk. Later I saw them on TV singing Yesterday and I was mesmerized....the rest is history and I have been a lifelong fan of the Beatles, the greatest rock band in history!
— Karen Spurlock, Carlsbad, Calif.
Aug. 19, 1964: Hysterical Fans Greet Beatles Here and in S.F. (Los Angeles Times)
I was almost 12 years old and had one of the first small tape recorders, which I got as a present. I sat in front of our TV on the floor holding up the small microphone taping the Beatles sing on "Ed Sullivan." I was so excited to see them. My friends and I played that tape over and over listening to all the girls screaming while they sang. My friends and I also did a performance for our school talent show that year where we dressed up as our favorite Beatle and lip-synced to one of their songs. I think I was George. We wore wigs and their trademark turtleneck shirts playing air guitars.
We also went to the movie theater and camped out to be the first in line when "Hard Days Night" opened. My parents were very indulgent of my Beatlemania.
— Ellen Livingston, Trabuco Canyon
Where I was born and lived ,Nelson, in Lancashire England, there was one of the biggest dance halls in the area.Most Saturday nights there would be well known stars performing live on stage.... The first time my friend and I saw them they were really not that well known but playing local gigs. The second time was another live performance in the same place and they were getting better known then. I think the second performance they had just released a record. They were electrifying even in those days.... and the girls just screamed for them. Fond memories for sure!
— Valerie Cockett Pickles, Santa Elena Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico
I saw the Beatles at Met Stadium in St Paul in August 1965. I was 19 and a huge Beatles fan. My boss got two tickets because he knew someone who worked for the promoter.
The Beatles did 11 songs in about 29 minutes from a stage at second base. Speakers lined the first and third baselines, so the band was quite audible over the screams. We were surrounded by girls who twisted and shouted, on their feet and in the air, for the entire concert.
I was mesmerized to be in the same space with four musicians who appeared like the Second Coming. It was understandably surreal and quickly over, like a vision. I still have the ticket stub.
The band sounded great, finishing with ""I'm Down,"" which sent the girls into paroxysms of joy and tears. Me too, almost. I've seen Dylan, the Doors, Cream, Creedence and Janis. Nothing else comes close to the four lads from Liverpool.
The ""Night the World Changed"" is no exaggeration.
— Joahn Blau, Sylmar, Calif.
The Beatles in 1964 during their first U.S. tour. (Associated Press)
We were married on Saturday, Feb. 8, 1964. I was 17 and he was 21. Being movie lovers from a small town in central California, we headed to Hollywood for our honeymoon. We had a room at the Yucca Motel, which was the base for taking in the first-run movies on Hollywood Boulevard. The night of "The Ed Sullivan Show," we got a bite to eat and stayed in our room to watch the Beatles.
— Judy Kelley, Elk Grove, Calif.
Our TV was in my parent's bedroom, which functioned as somewhat of a den. They sat on the bed while my brother and I were relegated to the one chair or the floor at the foot of the bed. So if anyone was going to see the Beatles, we all were going to see the Beatles. I was 17. There had been lots of media coverage of their trip to the U.S. By and large the country was outraged over their hair, established show business types were dismissive, and reporters asked inane questions like: "Why do you sing without accents?" The attitude of everyone over 20 was patronizingly negative.
When the set started, no one could hear the Beatles for all the screaming girls in the audience. The audience reactions seemed incomprehensible to many, but my mother remembered the reaction to an early Frank Sinatra. My father had conveniently been in the bathroom when the Beatles began singing. When he returned all was pandemonium. He took one look at Ringo Starr and asked harshly: "What's he doing, trying to take a ... ?"
"He's the drummer," I replied, deadpan. At that my father stated he was going to put his foot through the television screen. Not entirely sure he wouldn't do it, my brother and I interceded. The fun had just begun.
— Michael Perovich, Whittier
I was laying on my mothers bed sort of daydreaming or half asleep and she loves you came on the radio. I was already very into music at like ten years old but the sound that came out of that little box was very attention grabbing and told a true story at the same time, a feeling that I am sure everyone shares. The most amazing thing the beatles achieved was how they made you feel with the honesty of their music.
— John Brooking, Toronto, Ontario
I lived in Far Rockaway, NY and was 11 going on 12 quite soon. One of the girls I knew from school invited a bunch of us up to her apartment where she showed us the cover of Meet the Beatles. She played the album and all the girls were just overwhelmed because we never heard anything like that before. Within a few weeks my family moved several miles away and there was just one girl on the block my age. When the Beatles were coming we were glued to the radio and even the TV. So near yet so far away. We were too young to go to the city to see them. So with anticipation we awaited the Ed Sullivan Show (after watching the local news cover the story all day). Sure enough when they performed it was life changing. My passion for them has not waivered 50 years later. I still get a thrill when I hear All My Loving or any of those early rocking sounds! Great things always remain great especially when it impacted your entire heart and soul.
Although I was sad when they broke up and even sadder when John was taken from us and when George passed away I still see them from my heart and so for me they are still together; the music lives on and so do they.
Grateful always for the gifts they gave us I am proud to say I love the Beatles and will love them forever.
— Lori Friedman, Westminster, Md.
Aug. 24, 1964: Decoy Helps Idols 'Escape': 18,700 Shriek for Beatles at Bowl (Los Angeles Times)
The Beatles on Ed Sullivan may well be my earliest recollection as a child. I remember watching them, being almost hypnotized by their music and appearance. I tried to take pictures off the TV but that did not work. Immediately afterwards, I begged my mother to buy me their record and buy me a guitar, as I wanted to be a rock and roll star. I also did not want to get my hair cut, preferring to grow a mop top instead. All I got was the album! A few years later I did get the guitar and wound up in a band many years later. Unfortunately, it did not become my full-time job, but rather a hobby. My hair, however, is still long. They made quite an impression on me.
— John Schaffer, Matawan, N.J.
I remember hearing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and then seeing them on the news and hearing "The Beatles are coming, the Beatles are coming" everywhere. Nothing has ever affected me as much before or since. I knew that they would change my life forever and they did. They turned my little world from black and white to color, and their message of love deeply affected me and how I dealt with the world and how I raised my children. My children all thank me for raising them with my love of the Beatles, their music and their philosophy. My oldest daughter once told a friend when asked what religion she was raised in, "I was raised in the religion of the Beatles." I have never been so proud.
— Rachel Case, Lynchburg, Va.
I was 11 when I first heard "I wanna hold your hand" I was in love! I saw The Beatles at the Hollywood bowl, and dodger stadium. Screaming the whole time "Paul, Paul" I knew that I would marry him one day. hahaha. I am still a fan at 61. I have all the original albums and still see Paul when he comes to town. Beatlemania rules!
— Debra Rittmiller, Burbank, Calif.
I was eight years old and considered too young to watch the Ed Sullivan show. I was watching between the rails on the stairs (as my older siblings watched in the living room as befitted their senior ages of 10 and 12 years old). I thought it was hilarious how the girls screamed on the TV, so I screamed too. I frightened the daylights out of my parents and suppose now they were right that I was too young for the Beatles at the time. They've been my favorite group for decades now. So many songs; In My Life, Here Comes the Sun, While My Guitar Gently Weeps; Throw one on to listen...
— Liz, West Bend, Wis.
The Beatles relax on the lawn of their rented Bel-Air mansion in August 1964. (Los Angeles Times)
In the weeks leading up to the Beatles' February 1964 appearance on Ed Sullivan, they were quite the hot topic around my grade school. It was probably the most anticipated TV appearance at that time. I had just turned 8 the week before. My older sister was 17.
On the Sunday night of February 9, 1964, we gathered with our parents in the den, as we did each and every Sunday night, to watch the Sullivan show. It was a family tradition, and one we almost never missed. You could hear a pin drop in that den, as the Beatles played live on American TV for that historic first time. No one said a word, all eyes were fixed on our RCA black & white TV. I can remember what happened next as if it was yesterday, because it had such an impact on my entire being. When the Beatles finished, without a word, my sister & I turned and faced one another, eyes wide and mouths open in shock. The unspoken truth we shared at that moment was "WOW. Nothing will ever be the same again." Intuitively we both knew the world, our world, had changed dramatically. We had just witnessed a seismic cultural shift and we KNEW IT.
My parents, both music lovers themselves, were not as impressed. My Dad said, "They were OK, but it's a fad. No one will remember them a year from now." By the end of that year, both my parents LOVED the Beatles, and my Dad's opinion went from "It's a fad" to "Lennon & McCartney are the greatest songwriters since Gershwin!" True story. I guess "Michelle" and "Yesterday" got to him, LOL.
— David Brisker, Seattle
It was 1964 and I was in my bedroom. A 10 year old who began taking guitar lessons a year earlier. The den had a large black and white TV standing on its feet, two large chairs, a sofa and a counter with 4 stools where we would have casual dinners. The oldest of three girls, my father called me to come watch Ed Sullivan as the show was going to be a good, historical one. I sat with my mom, dad and sisters and watched the Beatles come alive on TV singing their songs, looking cool and loving the sound. From then on, I would have my clock radio tuned to KHJ in Los Angeles waiting to hear the Beatles songs. My guitar teacher began teaching me their songs. I was hooked and the rest is history, following them throughout their career, breaking up, going solo, attending their concerts through the years and a vigil for John upon learning of his death. The Beatles are part of growing up and an influential part of all our lives.
— Dr Linda Salvin, Encino, Calif.
Ringo Starr rocks out at the Washington Coliseum during the band's first live U.S. concert, Feb. 11, 1964. (Dezo Hoffman)
Reporting, design and production by Maloy Moore and Lily Mihalik