The Beatles Invade America: A Look Back
The Beatles deplaning at JFK (photograph by Harry Benson, from the LIFE book, "Paul McCartney")
America met The Beatles for the first time on February 7, 1964, and from that day on, the music world and my life were never quite the same. So today on FUV Live, to continue honoring the band as FUV Essentials, we revisit my personal documentary "It Was 50 Years Ago Today – The Beatles Invade America," recounting the events leading up to and following the Beatles' arrival at Kennedy Airport.
Beatlemania erupted that chilly afternoon when they came to New York, and it continued to build momentum as events unfolded over the following week. I was glued to my AM radio following the Beatles' trip to the Plaza Hotel, their appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show," and their on-air visit with Murray the K on WINS. I followed as the band traveled to Washington, D.C. and Miami, and then performed at Carnegie Hall. As a teenager, there was no way for me to imagine the impact their music would have on me personally and professionally.
Within five years I was on the air myself, on the FM side, playing their records and sharing news of their evolution from the Fab Four to their solo careers. To have my 1974 two-hour live on-air conversation with John Lennon become an important part of their historical record remains one of my greatest thrills.
Their arrival was a story I always wanted to revisit in detail, so in 2004 on the 40th anniversary, I did just that with an award-winning documentary complete with rare broadcast moments and exclusive interviews with Lennon, newsman Walter Cronkite, filmmaker Albert Maysles, concert promoter Sid Bernstein, radio personality Dan Daniel, and others. It also explores how New York radio covered the Beatles' arrival and competed to be the source for all things “Beatles.”
In 2014, I updated the program for the 50th anniversary, and you can hear it on WFUV tonight at 8 p.m. EST on 90.7 FM and wfuv.org, or anytime below.