50 Years of Beatlemania

As we enter the month of February, both celebrations of the Beatles and discussions of the significance of the Beatles are already in full swing.  All of this is with good reason because February 2014 marks what might be considered the beginning of Beatlemania in the United States, as exactly 50 years ago the Beatles hit number 1 for the first time on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart as “I Want To Hold Your Hand” ascended to the top spot.  The song would spend seven weeks at number 1, and it was the first of 20 number 1 hits that the band would achieve.  That mark of 20 number 1 hits still stands as a record, and it doesn’t even count the number 1 hits that Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr each have had outside of their work with the Beatles.

By the time the year 1964 ended, the Beatles already had six chart-topping singles on their resume, including “I Feel Fine,” which ended the year in the middle of its run at the top.  Additionally, when “She Loves You” followed “I Want To Hold Your Hand” at the top of the Hot 100, the Beatles became only the second act in rock and roll history (following Elvis Presley) to knock themselves out of number 1.  The band then did one better, by knocking themselves out of number 1 again when “Can’t Buy Me Love” took over at the top for “She Loves You” in April.  No one else in Hot 100 history has occupied the number 1 position three consecutive times.  Meanwhile, the week that “She Loves You” hit number 1, not only did the Beatles occupy the number 1 position, but five songs by the Beatles made up the entire top 5 — a feat that no one has ever come close to duplicating.

In a very real sense, then, today marks the official beginning of the now-50-year-old phenomenon known as the Beatles.

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