Read: The Beatles’ First US Press Conference

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press

On February 7, 1964 the Beatles first touched down in the USA. “On February 7, 1964 Beatlamnia arrived in the USA.”While the Fab Four had quickly become a cultural sensation in Britain the previous year and landed a #1 US hit with ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ six days before arriving, all were apprehensive. Would the country whose music they had grown up idolizing in post-war Liverpool embrace them?

Touching down at New York’s Kennedy Airport the band’s anxiety quickly dissolved. Assembled to great them was a crowd of 3,000 fans. It was the biggest mass gathering airport officials would state they had ever witnessed, even for royalty. “We had heard our record were selling well in America,” George Harrison would later share. “But it wasn’t until we stepped off the plane that we understood what was going on.

Quickly shuffled past their adoring fans to the airport’s Arrivals Lounge, the Beatles were thrust before by a horde of curious representatives of the American press. Paul McCartney may only have 21, Ringo Starr 23, John Lennon 23, and George Harrison 20, but already the four were veterans. entertainers. The Beatles knew how to handle journalists, and what follows is what they had to say.

Q: Are you a little embarrassed by the lunacy you cause?

John Lennon: No, it’s great.

Paul McCartney: No.

Ringo Starr: Marvelous.

George Harrison: We love it.

John: We like lunatics.

Q: You’re in favor of lunacy?

All: Yeah.

John: It’s healthy.

Q: Are those English accents?

George: It’s not English. It’s Liverpudlian, you see.

Paul: The Liverpool accent – so, the way you say some of the words. You know, you say ‘grass’ instead of ‘grahhss’, and that sounds a bit American. So there ya go.

Q: Liverpool is the…

Ringo: It’s the capital of Ireland.

Paul: Anyway, we wrote half of your folk songs in Liverpool.

Ringo: Yeah, don’t forget!

Q: In Detroit Michigan, they are handing out car stickers saying, ‘Stamp Out The Beatles.’

Paul: Yeah well… first of all, we’re bringing out a ‘Stamp Out Detroit’ campaign.

Q: What about the Stamp Out The Beatles campaign?

John: What about it?

Ringo: How big are they?

Q: Would you tell Murray the K to cut that crap out?

The Beatles: Cut that crap out!

Paul: Hey, Murray!

Q: A psychiatrist recently said you’re nothing but a bunch of British Elvis Presleys.

John: He must be blind.

Ringo: [Shaking like Elvis] It’s not true! It’s not true!

Q: Would you please sing something?

The Beatles: No!

Ringo: Sorry.

Q: There’s some doubt that you can sing.

John: No, we need money first.

Q: What do you expect to take out of this country?

John: About half a crown.

Ringo: Ten dollars.

Q: Does all that hair help you sing?

Paul: What?

Q: Does all that hair help you sing?

John: Definitely. Yeah.

Q: You feel like Sampson? If you lost your hair, you’d lose what you have? ‘It’?

John: Don’t know. I don’t know.

Paul: Don’t know.

Q: How many of you are bald, that you have to wear those wigs?

Ringo: All of us.

Paul: I’m bald.

Q: You’re bald?

John: Oh, we’re all bald, yeah.

Paul: Don’t tell anyone, please.

John: I’m deaf and dumb, too.

Q: Do you know American slang? Are you for real?

Paul McCartney: For real.

John Lennon: Come and have a feel.

Q: Aren’t you afraid of what the American Barbers’ Association is going to think of you?

Ringo Starr: Well, we run quicker than the English ones, we’ll have a go here, you know.

Q: Listen, I got a question here. Are you going to get a haircut at all while you’re here?

The Beatles: No!

Ringo: Nope.

Paul: No, thanks.

George Harrison: I had one yesterday.

Ringo: And that’s no lie, it’s the truth.

Paul: It’s the truth.

Q: You know, I think he missed.

John: Nope.

George: No, he didn’t. No.

Ringo: You should have seen him the day before.

Q: What do you think your music does for these people?

Paul: Er…

John: Hmm, well…

Ringo: I don’t know. It pleases them, I think. Well, it must do, ’cause they’re buying it.

Q: Why does it excite them so much?

Paul: We don’t know, really.

John: If we knew, we’d form another group and be managers.

Q: What about all this talk that you represent some kind of social rebellion?

John: It’s a dirty lie. It’s a dirty lie.

Q: What do you think of Beethoven?

Ringo: Great, especially his poems. (Muttering to the others) I’m sick of that one.

Q: Have you decided when you’re going to retire?

John: Next week.

Paul: No.

John: No, we don’t know.

Ringo: We’re going to keep going as long as we can.

George: When we get fed up with it, you know. We’re still enjoying it.

Ringo: Any minute now.

Q: After you make so much money, and then…

The Beatles: No.

George: No, as long as we enjoy it, we’ll do it. ‘Cause we enjoyed it before we made any money.

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