The Beatles invade America
On the morning of February 7th 1964, The Beatles left London Airport on a Boeing 707, Pan Am flight 101 heading for New York. This would usher in a love affair with the United States that shows no danger of growing stale, even over 50 years later.
"It was so exciting. On the plane, flying in to the airport, I felt as though there was a big octopus with tentacles that were grabbing the plane and dragging us down into New York. America was the best. It was a dream, coming from Liverpool." - Ringo Starr
"There were millions of kids at the airport, which nobody had expected. We heard about it in mid-air. There were journalists on the plane, and the pilot had rang ahead and said, 'Tell the boys there's a big crowd waiting for them.' We thought, Wow! God, we have really made it." - Paul McCartney
The band touched down at JFK Airport at 1:20 pm, and there they were met with a sight never before witnessed; over 5,000 screaming fans had turned up at JFK to give the boys from Liverpool a warm, hospitable and frenzied American welcome. Fans who turned up received free Beatles t-shirts as part of a promotional campaign Brian Epstein had arranged with some local radio stations.
The Beatles themselves were very surprised at the turnout. They knew a few of their records had done well in the US, but ultimately nothing could have prepared them for the climate they found themselves in immediately upon arrival.
Inside the airport John, Paul, George and Ringo gave their first ever American press conference; their infectious personality and charm quickly won over the journalists. Despite a long flight they were in good spirits and very happy to be in America.
Later that night The Beatles, Brian Epstein, Mal Evans, Cynthia Lennon and Neil Aspinall made their way to the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Hundreds of fans got word that The Beatles would be staying there so they arrived to more chaotic scenes, with hundreds waiting at the hotel. There was a large police presence around The Plaza, with many on horseback to try keep the crowd under control.
Later that evening The Beatles gave a telephone interview for the BBC, which was to be broadcast on the radio show Saturday Club the following day.