It was this week in 1964 that the British invasion of America was conclusive. The Beatles’ ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ had jumped from No.27 on the Hot 100 to the No.1 spot, in the four places behind it were Beatles’ records. It was an unprecedented takeover of the Billboard chart and one that will never be repeated.
The story of the Beatles and their early American record labels is a complex one and all started when Vee-Jay released ‘Please Please Me’ on 7 February 1963. The only reason they released it was because EMI’s US label, Capitol, had passed on the opportunity and so it was offered to the small husband and wife run label, based in Gary, Indiana that specialised in African American music.
Vee Jay had a number of financial issues so when the Beatles next single, ‘She Loves You’, that had spent four weeks at No.1 in Britain in September 1963, was ready for release it was leased by EMI to a small Philadelphia label called Swan Records: Capitol had again refused the opportunity to release it.
Swan put out ‘She Loves You’ on 18 September but it found very little interest with record buyers, mainly because so few radio stations played it they were unaware of its existence. It was only in January when NBC’s, The Jack Paar Program screened footage of The Beatles performing ‘She Loves You’ that anyone really became aware, by which time the Beatles really were on a roll.
Capitol finally woke up to the possibilities of The Beatles and released ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ the day after Christmas 1963. Three weeks later it entered the Billboard chart and on 1 February 1964 it made No.1 where it stayed for seven weeks, only to be replaced by Swan Records’ ‘She Loves You’, which held onto the top spot for two weeks and, it’s said, kept the company going a lot longer than many of its independent rivals.
Then post all the excitement of The Beatles appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Vee-Jay Records, through their subsidiary Tollie Records, put out ‘Twist and Shout’, which was on the Beatles’ first US album, which Vee Jay had the rights for, and it reached No. 2 on 4 April 1964. ‘Twist and Shout ‘only failed to make No.1 because the Beatles ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ stopped it! By the beginning of May with ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘Twist and Shout’ and a new single, ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’ in the top three spots there was the Dave Clark Five, another British group that had two songs in the Top 10.
Follow The Beatles Essential playlist for more Beatles hits.