Wednesday, April 24, 2024

It Was 60 Years Ago Today: The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” Was Released in the US and Changed Everything


It was 60 years ago today: the Beatles released “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” It would soon be number 1, pulling with it a half dozen Beatles singles into the top 10.

Everything in music was changed forever.

Kenneth Womack observed in his essay series, “50 Years of Beatles,” John Lennon’s recollection of writing the song.

“We wrote a lot of stuff together, one on one, eyeball to eyeball. Like in ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand,’ I remember when we got the chord that made the song. We were in Jane Asher’s house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time. And we had, ‘Oh you-u-u/got that something …’ and Paul hits this chord, and I turn to him and say, ‘That’s it!’ I said, ‘Do that again!’ In those days, we really used to absolutely write like that — both playing into each other’s noses.”

When the Beatles played the song on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, that pushed it over the edge.

Womack writes: “At one point, the single was selling a phenomenal 10,000 copies an hour in New York City alone; by March 1964, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” had sold an astounding 3.4 million copies in the U.S.”

I still remember walking home from school on the Monday afternoon after the Sullivan appearance, and it was all anyone could talk about. Six decades later, the Beatles are bigger than ever, considered the “classical music” of our time.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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