55 Years Ago: The Beatles First U.S. Visit

From the moment that Pan American flight 101 touched down on February 7, 1964, at about 1:30 p.m. at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, rock & roll music and America became forever changed.

The Beatles had arrived in New York to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and play their first U.S. tour.

The band had no idea how America would receive them. But just before touching down, McCartney recalls, “The pilot had rung ahead and said, ‘Tell the boys there’s a big crowd waiting for them.’” Some 3,000 to 6,000 fans who’d been alerted by local radio stations were gathered, many on the rooftop observation deck of the terminal, most of them girls who were screaming as soon as the jet taxied up.

The media assembled for a press conference was another matter – cynical and out for blood. But the good-natured and witty banter of the Fab Four won them over.

Watch a portion of the press conference:

That evening the group went to the Ed Sullivan Show studio on Broadway to rehearse and block out their performance – at least John, Paul and Ringo. Harrison had caught a cold and remained behind to recuperate. Road manager Neil Aspinall strapped on George’s guitar and served as his stand in.

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