I wrote a piece for the Amazon.com Money & Markets blog last week that drew ten business lessons from the rise and fall of the Beatles.
The rise is the more fascinating part of the story, without a doubt. Especially given how unlikely it was that a handful of poor kids from an English backwater port town like Liverpool would conquer the entire world with their musical instruments.
One of the first major milestones of this conquest occurred 49 years ago today, when the Beatles made their first visit to New York expressly to play the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9th, 1964. Reporters, fans and music industry people from all over the nation were in attendance when the boys first touched down at JFK International Airport that week. They spent their time in Manhattan literally trapped in the bathroom of their visitor-crammed hotel suite. The fans were surrounding the building and skirmishing with police who were charged with keeping order. Nothing like this had ever been seen before.
Bob Dylan stopped by one night and introduced the band to marijuana cigarettes for the first time. Dylan would answer the phone when it rang, “Hello, this is Beatlemania…” Paul McCartney ran around around the hotel room, high as Mr. Kite, scrambling for a pen and paper so as to write all of his critical thoughts and observations down for posterity. The next morning, someone found this paper on which Paul had taken his notes – it had only this written down: “there are seven levels.”
It was an exciting time for the boys just as it was an exciting time for pop culture and music. You cannot imagine how many standard conventions of stardom still exist that the Beatles had invented during this first assault on America.
Below is their full performance from the Ed Sullivan Show, which was the first time most people would ever have seen them outside of the clubgoers in Hamburg and London.
They did not disappoint…