This was the biggest hit of 1964, WHC and the Beatles’ first of twenty #1’s on the Billboard Hot 100, a still untouched record. BB100 It was also the opening shot for the British Invasion. AMG Previously, only two British artists had topped the U.S. charts – Acker Bilk with “Stranger on the Shore” and the Tornados with “Telstar.” LW However, during 1964 and 1965, the Brits occupied a whopping 52 weeks at the American chart pinnacle. LW
The Beatles were not, however, an overnight success. They’d been huge in the U.K. for more than a year, but manager Brian Epstein couldn’t get Capitol Records (EMI’s American company) interested because, as one label executive said, “We don’t think the Beatles will do anything in this market.” BR1
Paul McCartney remembers the group telling Epstein, “We’re not going to America till we’ve got a #1 record.” RS500 When the Beatles touched down in New York for their first U.S. visit, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the number one song in America. BB100 On February 9, 1964, the Beatles performed for an estimated 73 million people on The Ed Sullivan Show. Beatlemania was born.
The tame sexuality of the title phrase was mocked by some critics AMG and certainly the goal was “make maximum impact rather than last as a transcendent song,” LW but the delivery of the song hinted that the Beatles had more on their minds than hand holding. KL What they may not have intended, but achieved nonetheless, was world dominance and a permanent impact on music as “Hand” became “one of the most important songs in rock history.” AMG