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The British are coming: the Summer of 1964 (part two)

By Gordon R. Thompson
In the opening months of 1964, The Beatles turned the American popular music world on its head, racking up hits and opening the door for other British musicians. Lennon and McCartney demonstrated that—in the footsteps of Americans like Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry—British performers could be successful songwriters too.

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The Beatles and New York, February 1964

By Gordon R. Thompson
When Pan Am flight 101, the “Jet Clipper Defiance,” touched down at the recently renamed John F. Kennedy Airport on 7 February 1964, the grieving angst that had gripped the Western world lifted, if just a little. What emerged from the darkness of the Boeing 707’s doorway was something so joyful, so deliciously irreverent that we forgot for a moment the tensions of the Berlin wall, the Cuban missile crisis, and the assassination of a young president. The sigh that North America released felt so deep that it sounded as one big exuberant scream of delight.

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The Beatles and “She Loves You”: 23 August 1963

By Gordon R. Thompson
As the summer of 1963 drew to a close and students prepared to return to school, the Beatles released what may have been their most successful single. “She Loves You” would top the British charts twice that year, remain near the top for months, and help to launch the band into the American consciousness.

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From Me (the Beatles) to You (the Stones): April 1963

By Gordon R. Thompson
After the success of the single “Please Please Me” and the release of the album Please Please Me, British fans and the press eagerly anticipated “From Me to You.” Fans had pre-ordered so many copies of the disk that when Parlophone did release R 5015 on 11 April 1963, the single immediately appeared in pop charts where it would stay for an amazing 21 weeks.

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The Beatles record “From Me to You,” Tuesday 5 March 1963

By Gordon R. Thompson
With Northern Songs (their publishing company) established, the Beatles needed a song for their next single and, flushed with the success of “Please Please Me” and the emerging ecstasy at their performances, they again brought together elements from different songs in their repertoire to create something new and fresh. George Martin scheduled a recording session for Tuesday 5 March, towards the end of their first national tour when they served as a warm-up act to British singer Helen Shapiro.

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The Beatles and Northern Songs, 22 February 1963

By Gordon Thompson
Songwriting had gained the Beatles entry into EMI’s studios and songwriting would distinguish them from most other British performers in 1963. Sid Colman at publishers Ardmore and Beechwood had been the first to sense a latent talent, bringing them to the attention of George Martin at Parlophone. Martin in turn had recommended Dick James as a more ambitious exploiter of their potential catalogue.

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The Beatles and “Please Please Me,” 11 January 1963

By Gordon R. Thompson
Although “Love Me Do” had been the Beatles’ induction into Britain’s recording industry, “Please Please Me” would bring them prominently into the nation’s consciousness. The songwriters, the band, the producer, and the manager all thought that they had finally found a winning formula. An advertisement in the New Musical Express proclaimed that the disc would be the “record of the year,” even as it raised a chuckle among industry insiders; but the hyperbole would prove prophetic.

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Alice’s top 10 OUPblog posts of 2012

By Alice Northover
One of the great advantages of being OUPblog editor is that I read practically everything that was published on the blog in 2012: the 1,088 articles, Q&As, quizzes, slideshows, podcasts, videos, and more from the smartest minds in the scholarly world. When I first attempted the list, I had 30 articles bookmarked and I’d only made it six months back. I’m sure I’ll hate myself for missing a piece tomorrow.

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Charting success: The Beatles, December 1962

By Gordon R. Thompson
The Beatles were unlikely successes on London’s record charts in December 1962. Northerners with schoolboy haircuts who wrote and performed their own songs, their first record “Love Me Do” had risen slowly up British charts, despite lack of significant promotion by their publisher and record company, and without an appearance on national television.

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Selling the Beatles, 1962

By Gordon R. Thompson
As a regional businessman and a fledgling band manager, Brian Epstein presumed that the Beatles’ record company (EMI’s Parlophone) and Lennon and McCartney’s publisher (Ardmore and Beechwood) would support the record. This presumption would prove false, however, and Epstein would need to draw on all of the resources he could spare if he were to make the disc a success.

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The Beatles and “Please Please Me,” November 1962

By Gordon Thompson
Fifty years ago, the Beatles recorded their arrangement of “Please Please Me,” a lilting lover’s complaint transformed into a burst of adolescent adrenaline. On 26 November 1962, after repeated attempts to capture just the right balance of frustration and anticipation, George Martin informed them over the studio intercom that they had just recorded their first number-one disc. But the path to the top of the charts would not be easy.

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The Beatles begin, Friday, 5 October 1962

By Gordon Thompson
The Beatles’ dream of releasing a record came to fruition fifty years ago today when Parlophone issued the band’s first disc, “Love Me Do.” That night, EMI played the song on its own London-produced weekly radio program Friday Spectacular, broadcast on Radio Luxembourg. In the Beatles’ Anthology, George Harrison recalled that, “First hearing ‘Love Me Do’ on the radio sent me shivery all over.

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The Beatles at EMI, September 1962

By Gordon R. Thompson
Fifty years ago, the Beatles entered EMI’s recording studios on Abbey Road for their first official recording session. Their June visit had gained them a recording contract, but had cost Pete Best his position when artist-and-repertoire manager George Martin winced at the drummer’s timing. With little ceremony, Lennon, McCartney, and especially Harrison recruited the best drummer in Liverpool — a mate who sometimes subbed for Best — and left the firing of Best to manager Brian Epstein. Thus, Ringo Starr ascended to the drummer’s throne.

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A British ante-invasion: “Telstar,” 17 August 1962

By Gordon Thompson
Many describe the 1964 arrival of the Beatles in New York as the beginning of the “British Invasion,” but UK rock and pop had begun culturally infiltrating our consciousness much earlier. Indeed, a London instrumental group topped American charts in the fall of 1962 with a recording that celebrated the first telecommunications satellite. Launched from Cape Canaveral on 10 July, Telstar initiated transatlantic telephone, television, and image transmissions by relaying beamed signals. The pace of multidirectional globalization in popular music increased almost immediately.

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