Daytrippin' Beatles Magazine

The Latest Beatles News, Travel, Biography and Discography


The Beatles first visit to New York City in 1964: A Day by Day Diary

At 1:20 pm on Friday, February 7, 1964, The Beatles landed in America for the very first time, and music history would never be the same. It would be a busy weekend for The Beatles leading up to their historic debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday night as they took New York City by storm.

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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7

After The Beatles landed at JFK airport to thousands of screaming fans, they held a short press conference at the airport. They charmed the press with quick-witted answers like:

Question: Will you sing for us?
John Lennon: No, we need money first.

Question: Do you ever get a haircut at all?
George Harrison: I had one yesterday.

Question: Why does your music excite people so much?
John Lennon: If we knew, we’d form another group and be managers.

The Beatles were then whisked away to The Plaza Hotel (Fifth Avenue at Central Park South) in Manhattan. When the Beatles first arrived at the hotel on February 7, 1964, at least 50 policemen were needed around the hotel to try and keep the hordes of fans in line.

The Beatles were taken to the Presidential Suites on the 12th floor (rooms 1209 through 1216). With the chaotic scene and mass pandemonium created by the fans in front of the hotel, The Plaza management was shocked to learn that the reservations made for these “English businessmen” were actually the Beatles.

first_us_visitInside the Plaza Hotel, The Beatles watched news reports about themselves on television and conducted phone interviews with local radio DJs including Murray the K. This was documented in the exceptional film by The Maysles Brothers, The Beatles First US Visit.

[Note: After the mayhem of The Beatles first U.S. visit, the Plaza Hotel management did not want the Beatles to return. In subsequent visits to New York, The Beatles would stay at The Warwick Hotel.]

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8

The next day, Feb 8, George Harrison had strep throat and stayed in bed. His sister, Louise, came to the hotel to take care of him.

While George was sick in bed, John, Paul and Ringo entertained reporters for a photo shoot in Central Park followed by many fans. They took a horse and buggy ride, posed on rocks by a lake, and had lunch at the boathouse.

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The threetles also went for a rehearsal at the Ed Sullivan show studio (1697 Broadway), now home to CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Since George was sick, road manager Neil Aspinall stood in for him, as can be seen in many photographs.

That night, John, Paul and Ringo went to the 21 Club restaurant (21 W. 52nd Street) for a dinner party hosted by Capitol Records. After dinner, they were given a car tour of Manhattan to see NYC landmarks including the U.N. building, the Empire State Building, Broadway and Times Square, according to author Bruce Spizer.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 9

The day of the Beatles television performance there were thousands of teenage fans waiting up and down Broadway trying to get a glimpse of the Beatles entering and leaving the studio. Even though there were 50,000 requests for tickets to the show, there were only 728 seats available inside. Watching the Beatles’ performance that night in the studio audience were John’s wife, Cynthia Lennon and George’s sister, Louise Harrison.

A record 73 million people watched that night. The Beatles’ sang five songs in two separate segments including “All My Loving”, “Till There Was You”, “She Loves You”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. The Beatles made such an impact with their historic live appearance that it launched Beatlemania in the U.S. which still endures to this day.

Earlier that day on February 9, The Beatles taped another performance for “The Ed Sullivan Show” which was shown on Sunday, February 23 after the Beatles had returned to England. On Sunday, Feb. 16, The Beatles appeared on the show again live from Miami, Florida. All of The Beatles appearances on the show are included on the DVD set, The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows starring The Beatles.

After the show, The Beatles celebrated by first going to The Playboy Club (59th street and Fifth Avenue) conveniently located across the street from The Plaza Hotel. Paul McCartney commented: “I think the Bunnies are even more lovable than we are.”

Next, The Beatles went to the Peppermint Lounge. Just like a scene from A Hard Day’s Night, Ringo Starr danced the night away as John and Paul grooved from their seats.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 10

Beatles MagazineOn February 10, 1964, Capitol Records president Alan Livingston presented the Beatles with gold records for “Meet the Beatles” and “I Want to Hold your hand” at the Plaza Hotel.

Several press conferences were held inside the Terrace and Baroque rooms of the hotel that day for the media. One member of the press who interviewed The Beatles that day was celebrity psychologist, Dr. Joyce Brothers.

After a full afternoon of interviews, the Beatles hosted a cocktail party for members of the press at the Plaza.

In just a brief four-day visit, The Beatles had conquered America. They were due to stay in America for another 10 days to perform their first U.S. concerts and appear for a second time on “The Ed Sullivan Show” live from Miami.

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Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr come together for two Beatles songs in Grammy TV salute – Full set list

beatlessignCYou could say “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles”  was 50 years in the making since it marks the 50th anniversary of The Fab Four’s historic debut on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. In truth, it was over ten years in the making according to Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich, longtime producer of The GRAMMYs and many other music shows including “Come Together: A Night for John Lennon’s Words and Music.”

Ehrlich told the studio audience at last night’s taping that he was in talks with former Apple CEO, the late Neil Aspinall, to do a Beatles special for the 40th anniversary of the Ed Sullivan performance but it “wasn’t the right time.” Ehrlich, a self-proclaimed Beatles fan himself who said he even applied to run Apple in the 1960s, put together a stellar group of musicians to pay tribute to The Beatles just one night after The GRAMMY awards telecast.

This GRAMMY Salute to The Beatles does not disappoint — all the performances are top-notch. While the audience patiently awaits the reunion between Paul and Ringo at the end, highlights by other performers include a special Eurythmics reunion to sing “Fool On the Hill,” a duet between Alicia Keys and John Legend performing “Let It Be,” and a touching rendition of “Something” performed by Jeff Lynne and Joe Walsh joined by George Harrison’s son, Dhani Harrison, which was introduced by Johnny Depp.

Jeff Bridges, who said he got to meet the Beatles at a Hollywood charity party on August 24, 1964, introduced Ringo Starr who shouted it was “Starr Time” as he sang classic covers of songs from The Beatles’ days of “Matchbox” and “Boys.” Starr then gave a rousing rendition of “Yellow Submarine” which unified the audience in spirit.
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Sean Penn then introduced Sir Paul who took the stage with his own band. McCartney explained his initial hesitance for taking part in the show: “Was it seemly to tribute yourself? But I saw a couple of American guys who said to me, `You don’t understand the impact of that appearance on the show on America,'” which convinced him to do it. He performed “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Birthday,” “Get Back,” and “I Saw Her Standing There” on his own.
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When McCartney started singing “Sgt. Pepper”, the crowd knew what would happen next. “Billy Shears,” a.k.a. Ringo joined Paul onstage to sing “With A Little Help From My Friends” making this 50th anniversary tribute a historic night on its own. Ringo then took a seat at the drums to accompany Paul on the finale of “Hey Jude.” All the performers from the night including members of The Beatles “Love” Cirque du Soleil show joined in at the end.

This Beatles show was a wonderful tribute and was reminiscent of the touching, classy performances at the Concert for George from 2002. The big difference was that it was less of a memorial and more of a celebration. However,  Ringo summed it up well when he said, “We were in a band. It’s called The Beatles, and if we play, John and George are always with us. It’s always John, Paul, George and Ringo.”
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Tune in February 9, 2014 for some more history-making performances on “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles” on CBS, you don’t want to miss it!
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FULL PERFORMANCE LIST
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Maroon 5 – “All My Loving”, “Ticket to Ride”
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Eric Idle as Nigel Spasm from The Rutles introducing Beatles biography clips
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John Mayer and Keith Urban – “Don’t Let Me Down”
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Ed Sheeran – “In My Life”
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Alicia Keys and John Legend – “Let It Be”
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Imagine Dragons – “Revolution”
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Katy Perry – “Yesterday”
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Eurythmics – “Fool on the Hill”
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Pharrell Williams and Brad Paisley – “Here Comes the Sun”
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Dave Grohl and Jeff Lynne – “Hey Bulldog”
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Jeff Lynne, Joe Walsh, Dhani Harrison – “Something”
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Gary Clark Jr, Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
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Stevie Wonder – “We Can Work It Out”
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Ringo Starr – “Matchbox”, “Boys”, “Yellow Submarine”
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Paul McCartney – “Magical Mystery Tour”, “Birthday”, “Get Back”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
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Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr – “With A Little Help From My Friends”, “Hey Jude”
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Exclusive: Filmmaker Clay Adams reveals details about working with The Beatles on Shea Stadium film soundtrack

M. Clay Adams, the former owner of Clayco Films, produced many film segments for the Ed Sullivan Show during the 1960s. When Ed Sullivan’s production company collaborated with The Beatles to produce a documentary of their legendary 1965 performance at Shea Stadium, Clay Adams was the manager of production operations for the film.

At the time, Adams, who died last year at the age of 99, had been in the film business for over 25 years. He had a young teenage son, Michael, who was a huge Beatles fan. In February 1964, Michael was one of the lucky ones who attended the live February 9, 1964 Beatles debut on the Ed Sullivan Show as well as The Beatles dress rehearsal (the segment filmed for their third Ed Sullivan appearance which aired on February 23, 1964). He actually got to meet The Beatles after the dress rehearsal. He also attended both Beatles concerts at Shea Stadium in 1965 and 1966.

So after his dad, Clay, flew to London to work with George Martin and The Beatles on the over-dubs to the Shea Stadium film soundtrack, Michael was extremely anxious to hear about the trip. In the lost art of letter writing, Clay typed up a letter dated January 10, 1966 to his son, who was busy in school, and told him intimate details of working with George Martin and The Beatles in the recording studio. He also revealed his personal observations on each of the Fab Four.

For example, Clay Adams, describes his first impressions of Paul McCartney:

Paul was the first one to get there, right on the dot of 9:30. He came in with a short black fur coat and needing a shave. But he was full of fun and ready to get down to work right away. Actually what the boys and George Martin really felt was wrong with the Shea soundtrack was only that it was lacking in the “low end” and drums in some places. The bass guitar was not as loud as on their records. So while we were waiting for the other boys to arrive, we over-dubbed “I’m Down”, “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, and “Baby’s in Black” with Paul only.

Readers can get a sense of what the Beatles daily lives were like from this historic letter. This excerpt almost seems like a scene out of A Hard Day’s Night as Adams writes:

Meanwhile nobody seemed to know where the rest of the boys were. Every time I’d ask what has happened to John, George and Ringo – George Martin would say he hadn’t the slightest idea except that Paul was living in the city nearby while the other boys had to come from out of town. Finally at about 10:30 in bounced the other three, all laughing and quite unaware that they had been keeping us in suspense.

What’s most fascinating about Adams’ letter is how he truly was a “fly on the wall” during a Beatles’ recording session.

All four of the boys were really great. They worked hard, did anything we asked them to and cooperated in every way. Also, they are such great “pros” and know their own arrangements so well that the recording session went much easier and faster than I ever anticipated. John was quite anxious to do “Ticket to Ride” better so we did that completely over and our track of “Help!” had a big drop-out in it which we had tried to fix up in New York – so we did that one all over. The rest were merely fixed here and there to fortify the Shea track. Paul loved my word “fortify” and whenever there was a lull he would say to me, “How are we doing Clay – did we fortify that one okay?”

Adams’ observations about the individual Beatles are quite insightful as well:

It was fun between recording sessions. Almost invariably Paul and John would immediately start tinkering around with some new musical ideas for new songs on their guitars. As soon as one would play a few notes, the other would pick up an accompaniment no matter how complex the arrangement. Meanwhile, George Harrison – who I called a frustrated drummer – would be trying to teach Ringo some new trick beat that he had thought up. They are all constantly fooling around with the other’s instruments. Ringo fooling with a guitar or the piano. George on the drums, etc. I thought Paul was the most musical though. When we had finished the over-dubbing I sat with him at the piano while he improvised. He has a great sense of harmony and phrasing. You should have heard his improvised chords fooling around with that song that’s my favorite from “Oliver” – I can’t think of the title.

The Beatles at Shea Stadium 50-minute documentary concert film was first aired on the BBC on May 1, 1966. The film was aired in the United States on ABC on January 10, 1967. However, since then, the film has never been commercially released to the public.
Michael Adams commented on the status of the film:

The film was a joint Sullivan Productions and NEMS venture. My Dad provided the film and sound crew and everything that came afterward until it was a finished product. When both parties had signed off on the completed film, two masters were made. Copies were then made and were presented to Sullivan Productions and NEMS for their prospective broadcasts. My Dad hung on to the masters and waited for the companies involved to follow up and ask for them.

In 1987, Paul McCartney phoned my Dad and requested a master for Apple. At the time, Paul said that they were interested in releasing it. They subsequently released a few songs on the Beatles Anthology. They [Apple] still have that master and who knows, maybe one day they will release it. In the meantime it keeps getting bootlegged. There’s boot copies of the US and the UK telecasts floating around out there (as well as that 2nd master).

With the release of McCartney’s Good Evening New York City CD/DVD today (November 17) which was filmed at the “new” Shea Stadium, now known as Citi Field, ABC will be broadcasting a one-hour special on Thanksgiving night, November 26, featuring McCartney concert excerpts as well as original footage from the Shea Stadium film.

To read the entire letter that Clay Adams wrote to his son about his experience working with the Beatles, visit http://www.beatles-history.net/beatles-shea-stadium.html

Our thanks to Michael Adams for sharing such a fascinating piece of Beatles history.