Thursday, December 26, 2013

First Shot Across the Bow

December 26, 1963

Capitol Records in the USA can not resist the rising tide any longer.  In response to a groundswell of
popularity, they move up the planned release of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" backed by "I Saw Her Standing There" officially into the US market.  It must have been about this week that I first caught the buzz.  I was just about to turn twelve and I recall being on a winter camping trip with the Boy Scouts (troop 269) in an old converted farm house at the D-bar-A camp in Metamora, Michigan.  Everyone had tinny little transistor radios including me and I'm pretty sure that is where I first heard the strains that would echo down these fifty years and beyond.

It's the first shot fired in the historic British Invasion!

Oxford University Press Blog Post

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas with the Beatles

December 24-31, 1963

The Beatles, always true to their English heritage, are always involved up to their necks at Christmastime.  For the people of northern climes, it can be a great equalizer, during the worst of the cold, dark winter months to gather together for song and fun.

This year, it's a stage production "The Beatles Christmas Show" that starts today and runs for 16 nights at the Astoria Theatre in London.  The band looks back on the long musical hall tradition that is an essential ingredient in their formation. The show includes comedy, pantomime and music.  Just what's needed to revive flagging spirits.  In addition to their music, the boys are cast in a number of skits, which prove very popular with audiences.  John, Paul George and Ritchie do fly home to Liverpool this evening after the festivities to spend Christmas Day with their families.

Rolf Harris, of "Tie Me Kangeroo Down, Sport" fame is part of the show.  The whole show is a brainstrorm of (who else) Mr Brian Epstein.

Typical Beatle zaniness from '63, by way of wishing you Merry Christmas. (I love the Freda Kelly shout out, from George.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thank You, Marsha and Carroll

December 17, 1963

After seeing the human interest piece about the band on CBS News December 10th, Marsha Albert makes a listener request of Carroll James, a DJ on Washington DC radio station WWDC. Play the new record by this unusual group from England called the Beatles.  James asks a stewardess friend, who's on the transatlantic run, if she can get hold of a copy for him.  Today, the record makes a first appearance in the USA on his show. This is before, mind you, the record is released by the Beatles' American label, Capitol Records.

A full year after their British cousins, kids in the US are just beginning to "get it".   (A stewardess! Times really have changed.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

CBS Gets the News

December 10, 1963

The Beatles appear in a CBS news feature, presented by Walter Cronkite.

According to the CBS News website, it was December 10.  And who remembers Alexander Kendrick and his stiff ultra-cool delivery and his "wethead is dead" hairstyle?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

December 7, 1963

The Beatles return to Liverpool for a few days and how those boys did work at it!

Today's agenda includes:
Empire Theatre Juke Box Jury - Beatles as judges
Empire Theatre fan club concert - taped for broadcast that evening to the UK as It's the Beatles
Empire Theatre  Top of the Pops - Christmas interview for broadcast December 25th
Odeon Cinema - two evening performances as part of a package tour

Meantime, across the Atlantic, inexplicably, WORC in Worchester Massachusetts has come into possession of a copy of She Loves You/I'll Get You and has started playing it incessantly, based on listener interest. The grapevine is gently humming with this odd bit of music news, preparing the powers that be for the tidal wave of demand that is yet to come. Capitol Records has its ear to the ground and is beginning to pick up the signals.

If you think about it, this is all becoming a masterpiece of timing, but there is no grand designer, unless you count the gods and goddesses of music and serendipity.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hellllooo, Bongo!

December 2, 1963

The Beatles make an appearance on a national BBC TV show, The Morecambe and Wise Show.  A bit of musical hall silliness is the result.