When Dick Clark first debuted The Beatles’ “She Loves You” for Rate-A-Record on American Bandstand back in 1963, it was given a 73. The kids on the show took one look at them from a photo, they laughed. But little did everyone know that John, Paul, George, and Ringo — four young men from Liverpool, England — would become the biggest band in the world. As soon as the Fab Four stepped out of the airplane in America, and performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, Beatlemania was born.
In April 1964, they ruled the Top 5 and held that record until the late 1970s by the Bee Gees and the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. The next week, the Beatles had over a dozen songs on the Top 100, and six of them went straight to number one. The Beatles paved the way for the “British Invasion” that included the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and the Who, bands influenced by American pop and R&B music.
Though they never made an appearance, Dick Clark paid tribute to The Beatles twice on Bandstand in 1964: playing their music, holding contests, and showing news footage of them that included their first American press conference held at JFK Airport in New York. In this March 1967 clip from YouTube user BeatleVideoArchive, Dick talked with the kids on their reaction after seeing a preview of both “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane”, where the Fab Four began branching out:
Two years after Beatlemania was born came Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork: the Monkees. Though critics called them the “prefab four”, they soon proved to be a group in their own right outside of their television series (1966-68). The Monkees became the only band ever to have their first four albums go all the way to number one — even outselling both the Beatles and the Stones combined in 1967.
In the mid-80s, thanks to reruns in syndication, the Monkees reunited, as their reunion tour became the top grossing tour of 1986. Some like *NSYNC have considered the Fab Four as the original boy band: teenage girls screaming at them wherever they went; teenage boys wanted to act, dress, and be like them; merchandise, memorabilia, starring in films such as A Hard’s Day Night and Help, having their cartoon series, and so forth.
Even the Spice Girls were compared as the female counterparts of the Beatles when they broke onto the scene in the late 1990s, and went to sell more than 60 million records worldwide — becoming the most successful British band since the Fab Four. “Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh, and Sporty were the most widely recognized group of individuals since John, Paul, George, and Ringo” said David Sinclair of Wannabe: How the Spice Girls Reinvented Pop Fame.
However, they weren’t without controversy, as John Lennon said in a 1966 interview with a British reporter that they were more popular than Jesus Christ — leading to their records being burned in the States and South Africa in response to his remark. Under pressure by the American media, Lennon later on apologized for his statement in August of that year before the start of their final tour; the Vatican forgave him in November of last year, stating that Lennon was a young man thrust with instant fame.
The Fab Four was even accused of being anti-American due when they openly admitted using drugs as well as protesting against the Vietnam War. “America should put up statues to The Beatles” Bob Dylan stated in his autobiography Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan. “They helped give this country’s pride back to it.”
Though the Beatles broke up in 1970 and each went on to have successful solo careers since, they still remain as one of the acclaimed and respected bands of all time: ranking Billboard‘s list once again last year as the top-selling Hot 100 artist of all time. Their records have sold more than a billion copies around the world, leaving an institution as well as an eternal legacy both in music and the rest of the world.