On this February 7, 1964

The Beatles arrive at JFK International Airport to begin their first tour of the United States.

The Beatles at JFK

The Beatles at JFK

On 7 February 1964, a crowd of four thousand fans at Heathrow Airport waved to The Beatles as they took off for their first trip to the United States as a group.

They were accompanied by photographers, journalists (including Maureen Cleave), and Phil Spector, who had booked himself on the same flight.

When the group arrived at New York’s newly renamed John F. Kennedy Airport, they were greeted by a large crowd. The airport had never experienced such a crowd, estimated at about 3,000 fans.

After a press conference, where they first met disc jockey Murray the K, The Beatles were put into limousines and driven to New York City. On the way, McCartney turned on a radio and listened to a running commentary: “They [The Beatles] have just left the airport and are coming to New York City…”

After reaching the Plaza Hotel, they were besieged by fans and reporters. Harrison had a fever of 102 °F (39 °C) the next day and was ordered to stay in bed, so Neil Aspinall replaced him for the band’s first rehearsal for their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The Beatles made their first live American television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on 9 February 1964. Approximately 74 million viewers — about half of the American population — watched the group perform on the show.

The next morning, many newspapers wrote that The Beatles were nothing more than a “fad”, and “could not carry a tune across the Atlantic“. The band’s first American concert appearance was at Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C. on 11 February 1964.

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