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1964: The Beatles conquer North America

The Story

The year is 1964 and the Beatles are electrifying a continent with their blockbuster appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show and live concerts. The lovable mop-tops from Liverpool stay on everybody's lips. "We just go hairy," for them, one Toronto girl gushes to an apparently unconvinced Larry Zolf from CBC Television's This Hour Has Seven Days. "Ringo for kingo!" yells a young boy. How long can Beatlemania last? "Six months -- at least," exclaims a young George Harrison fan.

Medium: Television
Program: This Hour has Seven Days
Broadcast Date: Oct. 4, 1964
Guest: Jack Posluns
Reporter: Larry Zolf
Guest: Michele Finney
Duration: 3:01

Did You know?

• In 1957 John Lennon had a skiffle group called The Quarrymen. In 1958 he met Paul McCartney and his friend George Harrison and asked them to join the band. This was the nucleus of the The Beatles who debuted in 1960. After achieving success in Britain, they arrived in North America to play on The Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964. There were 728 people in the theatre and 73 million watching on television, making it the most watched show in history at the time. In 2000, Entertainment Weekly magazine and music channel VH1 put the performance at the top of their list of rock 'n' roll's 100 greatest TV moments.

• During the show's first half, the band played All My Loving, 'Till There Was You, and She Loves You. Later in the show they played I Saw Her Standing There and I Want To Hold Your Hand. The Beatles were on the show again Feb. 16, 1964. A third performance, taped during Feb. 9 rehearsals, was broadcast Feb. 23. John Lennon was so nervous during the first performance that he taped song lyrics to the back of his guitar.

• The Beatles flew back to England after only a few shows but soon returned for a North American tour Aug. 19 to Sept. 20, 1964. Canadian dates were Aug. 22 at Empire Stadium in Vancouver, Sept. 7 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto (two shows) and Sept. 8 at The Forum in Montreal. Their two other Canadian appearances were both in Toronto -- Aug. 17, 1965 and exactly one year later.

• Vancouver fans surged out of their seats toward the stage and into a line of police officers struggling to hold them back. Larry Kane, a journalist who travelled with the band, recalled police officers being forced to break their line of defence to rescue trampled girls. After the show, the Beatles raced to waiting cars. "For the first time on the tour, they looked to me like they were running for their lives," he said.

• Legendary Vancouver DJ Red Robinson tried to calm the screaming crowd. In a March 2003 interview with the website Elvis.com, he recalled: "I'm saying to the crowd, 'Listen, calm down or the Beatles are going to leave the stadium.' When I first went up on stage, I think it was Love Me Do they'd just finished playing. 'F--- off,' (John Lennon) said. 'Nobody interrupts a Beatles concert.'" When Lennon heard that the band's manager had sent Robinson, he added: "OK, mate, carry on."

• Eleven girls and one boy set up camp outside the Maple Leaf Gardens box office three nights before tickets for the Toronto show went on sale. They read Beatles stories and listened to the band's songs on transistor radios, the Globe and Mail reported. "The only male Beatle fan pretended not to be waiting in line as he stood nonchalantly aside, arms crossed," the newspaper said. They were jeered by hockey fans leaving a game.

• A 14-year-old Toronto girl managed to elude dozens of police guards to knock on the door of a Beatles party at the King Edward Hotel. She was about to be sent away when one Beatle said, "Aw, let the kid in." Police removed her after a half-hour because three friends downstairs kept "screaming that she's locked in a room with the Beatles. Some people seem to be getting a bit uneasy," the Toronto Telegram reported.

Also on August 22:
1827: Industrialist Ezra Butler Eddy is born in Vermont. E.B. Eddy, who would become known as the matchmaker of the world, moves his small friction-match factory from Burlington, Vermont to Hull, Quebec in 1851. In 1929, the company becomes the first to produce book matches that are used around the world.
1935: The first Social Credit government in the world is elected in Alberta under William Aberhart. The party remains in office for 36 years.
2001: Tests on a dead crow found near Windsor, Ont. confirm the first case of West Nile virus in Canada.


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