By Matt Dolloff
Today (February 7) marks the 50th anniversary of the day the Beatles flew from London to the JFK Airport in New York for their first-ever visit to the U.S. The group had already experienced a taste of Beatlemania with their concert residency in Paris and performances around Europe.
London gave the band a big send-off with raucous fans at the airport, but they still didn’t quite know what to expect upon arrival in America. What they got was an even bigger welcome, their biggest yet.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr emerged from their plane – along with manager Brian Epstein, producer Phil Spector, and other guests – to around 5,000 screaming fans, drowning out the yells and flashbulbs of over 200 reporters and photographers. One of them simply remarked “Just look at that!” when he saw the massive crowd, which began gathering at the airport over 24 hours prior.
The Fab Four’s experiences in Europe clearly paled in comparison to the massive reaction they got from fans, photogs and journalists in New York, based on quotes from them and others at the event. They had no idea they would play perhaps America’s most famous concert that weekend.
Here are some memorable quotes from the Beatles and others to mark this historic arrival.
1. “So this is America…They all seem to be out of their minds.” – Ringo
They may not have all been literally psychotic, but fans certainly lost their minds as soon as the Beatles landed.
2. “We’ve never seen anything like this before, ever. Never. Not even for kings and queens.” – Unnamed airport official
No group has inspired this kind of frenzied response just from their presence since them, and the magnitude of their arrival may never again be matched.
3. “Yeah, yeah, everybody just shurrup!” – John
This was just one of many sarcastic quips to the media from Lennon throughout his career. He said it as their press conference got underway and everyone still struggled to subdue the piercing screams of nearby fans.
4.”What have we got to give a country like America? Yes, I know that we’ve got a record at the top of the charts, but that doesn’t meant that they’ll go for us personally, does it?”
Fortunately for them, the Beatles had considerable charm and wit that swept America up in Beatlemania before they even got to the U.S. They had the tunes, the looks and the personalities of megastars, which they essentially had already become.
5. “Our message is simple: buy more Beatles records!” – Paul
Paul didn’t even need to say this. Practically every Beatles fan in America had all their records at that point. Paul probably had an idea in his mind that he would need to plug their records as part of their tour of America, but nobody in the band realized that Beatlemania had already launched.
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