45 at 45: I Want to Hold Your Hand
45 years ago, the Beatles hit number 1 on the U.S. singles charts for the first time (and certainly not the last) with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, an irresistible pop confection that threw young fans into fits of ecstasy, and prepared a nation for rock and roll’s British Invasion (which had its own influences in sounds born in America, from girl group grooves to Motown’s “Sound of Young America”).
The tune wasn’t the first Beatles single released in America – a few of their 1963 UK smashes, rejected by their label’s stateside subsidiary Capitol, had been licensed to smaller labels, which weren’t able to break the tunes in the U.S... that is, until after Capitol decided to bank on the Fab Four with a massive promotional campaign for “Hand” and its parent LP, Meet the Beatles.
The campaign worked, in tandem with the band’s February appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and a whirlwind tour of the east coast. By spring, a nation that had barely heard of the Beatles on New Year’s Day wouldn’t be able to ignore them anytime soon.