Friday, January 31, 2014

The Friday Flash: 50 Years Ago This Week

1/31 and 2/1, 1964 -    

I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND is now #1 in Billboard, just ahead of LESLEY GORE's YOU DON'T OWN ME, OUT OF LIMITS by THE MARKETTS, SURFIN' BIRD by THE TRASHMEN and HEY LITTLE COBRA by THE RIP CHORDS.  SHE LOVES YOU has already leaped to #21, a 48 point jump … and PLEASE PLEASE ME has joined the ranks at #68, giving THE BEATLES THREE Top 100 Hits for the first time.  (Keep in  mind they haven't even done the Sullivan Show yet!!!) 
For those of you keeping score, DUSTY's first U.S. Chart Hit has barely moved, climbing to #73 in its second week on the charts.    

"I Want To Hold Your Hand" reaches #1 in Chicago, too, a position it will hold for a total of five weeks, one of those weeks SHARING the top spot with "She Loves You", which will displace it at #1 on March 6th.  "She Loves You" debuted this week at #10, giving The Beatles TWO Top Ten Hits on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey a week earlier than they would achieve this feat in Billboard.

Hopefully you're not just being Chicago-centric with your Beatles 50th anniversary.
Here are two CHUM Toronto charts celebrating Beatlemania in early 1964.
The first chart dated January 20th shows The Beatles had the top two songs.  "She Loves You" was # 1 with "Roll Over Beethoven" at # 2.
"I Want To Hold Your Hand" had just made its debut at # 40.
The cover of that chart had The Beatles publicity photo while the back cover had four of the CHUM DJ's with airbrushed Beatles wigs.
The second chart dated March 9th saw The Beatles hold down 6 positions in the Top 10: # 1, # 2, # 5, # 6, # 9 & # 10.
Doug Thompson in Toronto

Wow!  It looks like all the popular radio stations were decking their jocks out with Beatles wigs!  Thanks for sharing, Doug!  North America was clearly smitten with these young lads from Liverpool. 
This weekly revisiting with the events of 50 year ago is making one thing very clear ...
As we all know, history has a way of rewriting itself over time.  But these charts and events prove conclusively that America knew EXACTLY who The Beatles were before they ever appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
This Canadian Chart from three weeks before that appearance bears this out ... The Beatles are already at #1 and #2, with both hits predating the first appearance of "I Want To Hold Your Hand", the song that launched their career here in America.
The fact that CHUM's jocks are already decked out in Beatle-doos is especially interesting ... a brand new fad had clearly been established.

Here in The States, Billboard showed THREE records by The Fab Four in their Hot 100 Chart dated February 1st.  (And remember, as has often been pointed out, Billboard's chart listed a "Week Ending" date, meaning that these statistics actually reflected the pulse of what was happening here musically a full week earlier ... still TWO WEEKS before their first Sullivan appearance.  Don't get me wrong ... that Sullivan show appearance blew the doors off and launched the band into the stratosphere ... Ed Sullivan launched Beatlemania here in The States, but a loyal legion of fans had already assembled, ready to enjoy the ride.  (So I have to ask again ... why isn't Ed Sullivan in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame???)

"Please Please Me" and "She Loves You" had already been released here in the States the previous year ... with absolutely no success.  Capitol Records, The Beatles' official label in America, wasn't even interested in pressing copies of these records ... so the masters were shopped out to Vee Jay Records and Swan Records respectively.  And, in The Beatles' first week at #1 in Billboard, both labels were savvy enough to realize that they may have some solid gold sitting in their vaults ... and rush re-released these two singles to resounding success.

How big of a difference did it make?  According to Bruce Spizer's EXCELLENT book (now out of print but available digitally) "The Beatles on Vee Jay Records", "Please Please Me" sold about 5650 copies when it was first released in late February / early March of 1963.  Incredibly, during the last six months of 1963 (after the record had failed), exactly TWO COPIES were sold between July and December!  A year later, when riding the coattails of Beatlemania, it quickly sold over a million copies ... and went to #3 on the charts.
If Capitol Records really invested a fortune in their "The Beatles Are Coming" campaign (it's funny ... I've heard everything from as low as $50 - $100,000 ... and has high as half-a-million to a million dollars!), they recouped their money quickly.  An incredible 33 songs made The Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart in 1964 alone.  Capitol notoriously raided the vaults to compile a multitude of U.S. only singles ... and any label that had ANYTHING available to them from the pre-Capitol arrangement rushed these into release, too.  (As such, we got The Beatles singing "She Loves You" in German ... and a couple of hits by Tony Sheridan where The Beatles were merely the back-up band ... despite the fact that the picture sleeve boldly proclaimed this as a Beatles single by reversing the importance of their roles in big bold type!)
Canada wasn't far behind ... 22 Beatles singles charted north of the border in 1964 ... but all of these were released on the Capitol of Canada label.  (In fact, U.S. fans were so anxious to get their hands on anything Beatles-related, a couple of these singles crossed our border as import singles and charted here as well!)

We'll run your March chart as part of our new Saturday Surveys feature when it's more date-appropriate ... so stay tuned for that.

Speaking of which ...

re:  LOTS Going on This Weekend In Forgotten Hits:
On SATURDAY, we'll be running a brand new edition of our new Saturday Survey feature.  Response has been GREAT so far ... stop by and revisit some of the hits of the day by reviewing these vintage charts sent in by our readers.

And, on SUNDAY, we'll be celebrating our very own version of GAME DAY ...  

Sure, MOST of you will be wrapped up in the big game ...  

The Super Bowl is a big deal, after all ... (and I know you'll all want to catch that new Full House Reunion commercial!)

But we'll be here Pre-Game and Post-Game (as well as any and all bathroom breaks ... or other breaks in the action) ... so be sure to check us out when you can.  And, as OFTEN as you can ... because we'll be posting throughout the day, beginning at 6 am ... and not wrapping things up until 11 pm (Chicago time)