Sunday, February 9, 2014

It Was 50 Years Ago Today: I Want To Hold Your Hand

It’s time for our second week of the month feature; and in honor of The Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, we’ll take a look at the Billboard Hot 100 chart for this week in music history. I already dealt with the topic of their appearance back in 2011, so I won’t be talking about my personal recollections of that important night.

This week we’ll look at the songs at the top of the charts and finish off the week with a track from the number one album of the week of February 9 to February 15, 1964. Starting with the number one record of the week, we’ll move back up the chart.

Recorded in October 1963, The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was The Beatles’ first recording using state-of-the-art four track reel-to-reel recording equipment. It took 17 takes to finish the song and George Martin compressed John Lennon’s rhythm guitar to achieve an almost organ like sound.

While “This Boy” was the flip side for the UK release on Parlophone, Capitol selected “I Saw Her Standing There,” which allowed the record further chart as a double sided hit. The “B” side peaked at #14. The “A” Side, which was performed live on the Sullivan show, had already hit the #1 mark in the previous week and would remain at the top spot for a total of seven weeks.

Prior to being issued in America, a disc jockey at WWDC in metropolitan Washington saw Walter Cronkite’s December 10, 1963 piece on the CBS Evening News and had several copies of the British issue flown over from London aboard a BOAC flight to DC. Through the sharing of these copies with other jocks in major markets, the single began to break out in the US prior to its Capitol release on December 26.

In early January, after an aggressive marketing campaign by Capitol, the single was certified as a million-seller and attained gold status in the US. In today’s music climate, special marketing in conjunction with a major release is expected; however, Capitol’s promotion of The Beatles during the winter of '63-'64 was unprecedented and was like nothing anyone had ever seen before.

The efforts paid off.  On April 8, 1964, The Beatles dominated the Top 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 with “Can’t Buy Me Love” at #1, “Twist and Shout” at #2, “She Loves You” at #3, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” at #4 and “Please Please Me” at #5. In addition, “Meet The Beatles” and “Introducing the Beatles” placed at the top two slots on the Top 200 Albums chart during the same week. No one has ever been able to match this combined feat.

By the way, the label and picture sleeve shown above comes from my own collection.

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