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Beatlemania: The reaction to the 'Fab Four', John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Definition and Summary of the Beatlemania
Summary and definition:
The excessive enthusiasm, obsession and fascination directed at the Beatles British pop group was referred to as Beatlemania. The term 'Beatlemania' was coined by the British press in 1963 to describe the hysterical screaming of young girl fans whenever the Beatles appeared in public. The phenomenon known as Beatlemania began in the UK and escalated even further when the 'Fab Four', John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, toured the United States in 1964.

The fan frenzy and mass hysteria that greeted the Beatles was so intense that the band feared for their personal safety and police and riot control had to be provided for their protection. The impact of the Beatles and the effect of Beatlemania was evident from 1963 until 1966, when the Beatles made the decision to stop touring, avoid the massive crowds and retreat to the studio. 

Facts about Beatlemania
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Beatlemania.

During 1963 the Beatles pop group perform a series of live concerts in Britain and Europe, attracting massive crowds of screaming fans and the term 'Beatlemania' was coined to describe their frenzied behaviour.

Words and terms used to describe the behavior of fans affected by Beatlemania included mass hysteria, fraught, manic, uncontrollable, non-compliant, undisciplined, frenzied, demented and unruly conduct. The fans were filled with excitement, exuberance, enthusiasm, obsession, fascination, passion, infatuation, fixation and infatuation.

There were many causes of such reactions to four lads from Liverpool and the causes of Beatlemania.

Humor: Their likeable sense of humor and youthful high spirits played a large part in their appeal to teenagers. Each of the Fab Four exhibited this humor in different ways and each of the boys were funny. John Lennon was hilariously sarcastic and the responses of the other lads were witty, often absurd, unexpected, irreverent and down to earth. 

Personalities: Their diverse, charismatic personalities provided a different type of appeal to their legion of fans. Although they performed as a group, each member was distinct and known by name.

Personalities: John Lennon was clever, cheeky, brash, bold, daring, impatient and witty. He was also compassionate, kind and warm. Paul McCartney was outgoing, confident, optimistic, energetic, considerate and polite. George Harrison was quiet, introspective, spiritual and had a dry, unexpectedly witty sense of humor. Ringo Starr was lively, charismatic, happy-go-lucky, goofy and laid-back

Personalities: Fans grew to know the personalities of the Beatles through their numerous TV interview and press coverage. Their first movie 'A Hard Day's Night' provided an even greater insight into the personalities and humor of each of the Beatles.

Teen movies were usually second rate, the Beatle's movie wasn't expected to be good. A Hard Day's Night was a sensation and was  nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Screenplay and Best Score.

Unconventional: The Beatles were unconventional. Their hair, their clothes, their humor, their music and songwriting skills were all unique.  Their Liverpudlian accents were intriguingly exotic and added to the mystic of the band.

Image: The early Beatles were cleverly groomed with collarless, smart Beatle jackets, button down, round collared shirts and Cuban-heeled ankle boots. Their famous Beatle hairstyles, referred to as 'Mop Tops' also defied convention and appealed to the younger generation.

Looks and appearance: Paul McCartney possessed conventional good looks, John Lennon had more of a 'bad boy' image, the shy, younger George Harrison was also good looking and Ringo Starr, although not handsome, had the cheeky 'boy next door' looks.

Basically the Beatles had widespread appeal. Their was something for everyone and young girls created fantasies around their idols. These fantasies contributed to Beatlemania but there were other factors to also take into account.

The post-war economic boom of the 1940's had led to a population explosion during this era. The so-called 'Baby Boomers' were the first generation of teenagers to have significant spending power. They desired products that could distinguish them from their parents’ generation and be uniquely their own. They bought fashionable clothes, purchased the latest records and magazines and went to Beatle concerts.

A new Counterculture coincided with Beatlemania, a rebellious youth movement that rejected mainstream conventions, restrictions and values. The anti-authoritative behavior of the Beatles strongly appealed to the young generation.

The rock and roll music of the 1950's and the exciting performance styles of artists such as Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis had been ousted by music producers and industry men and replaced by clean-cut performers such as Frankie Avalon, Pat Boone, Tommy Roe, Roy Orbison, Fabian and Bobby Rydell.

Music: The music of the Beatles was vibrant with close harmonies based on rhythm and blues. The music of the Beatles was new, and like no one else, as they wrote their own songs.

Music: The music of the Beatles was vibrant with close harmonies based on rhythm and blues. The music of the Beatles was new, and like no one else, as they wrote their own songs.

Songs: The song writing skills of the Beatles were legendary and innovative. They included slang words that had never been used before, such as "Yeah Yeah, Yeah" in their lyrics, together with experiences of the lives in Liverpool. But their audience were able to identify with their  'boy meets girl' love lyrics which went on to express the hopes and the fears of the younger generation.

On January 10, 1964 the Beatles release their first album in the United States called 'Introducing the Beatles'.

On 18 January 1964, their single "I Want to Hold Your Hand" entered the US charts, and sold one-and-a-half million copies in under three weeks.

The Beatles made their first visit to America on February 7, 1964 as Pan Am Flight 101 landed in John F. Kennedy Airport, New York. An estimated four thousand screaming American fans celebrated their arrival which was captured by 200 members of the press and media.

On February 9, 1964 the Beatles make their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show which was watched by an estimated 73 million viewers. The show attracted the largest number of viewers that had ever been recorded for a U.S. television program - Beatlemania had come to America..

On February 11, 1964, the Beatles first U.S. concert took place at at Washington Coliseum, followed by another at Carnegie Hall.

On Sunday February 16, 1964 the group made their second television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show attracting 70 million viewers.

The Beatles returned to the UK on February 22, 1964 and were met at Heathrow airport by an estimated ten thousand fans.

Adults were bewildered and horrified by the screaming girls in the audience and the press coverage of any appearances of the band at airports and in American cities. The media was as much responsible for Beatlemania as it was for advertising the group itself.

During the week of April 4, 1964, the Beatles's singles occupied the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with "Can't Buy Me Love," "Twist and Shout," "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Please Please Me," respectively.

In August 1964, the Beatles returned to the United States for a second visit on a month-long tour. The band performed at thirty concerts in 23 cities earning over a million dollars in ticket sales.

At each concert there was music performed by 'warm up' bands psychedelic lighting effects and the atmosphere became electric. These induced audience arousal and anticipation and the Beatles were greeted with screaming, shouting and fainting fans to the fever-pitch intensity of Beatlemania.

The Beatles returned to the United States for another two-week tour that began on Sunday 15 August 1965 at the large, outdoor Shea Stadium in New York City. The concert attracted an audience of fifty-five thousand and was sold out in just seventeen minutes.

Ringo Starr described the Shea Stadium concert saying "What I remember most about the concert was that we were so far away from the audience...And screaming had become the thing to do... Everybody screamed..." The Beatles were concerned that their fans could not hear their music and the band themselves reportedly couldn’t begin to hear themselves playing

The most hardcore fans of John, Paul George and Ringo wanted more than just concerts and records. They craved encounters and artefacts and went to extraordinary lengths to get them. The band had no privacy and were disturbed and occasionally terrified by these obsessive fans.

The Beatles returned to their third tour of the United States in August 1966 to play 17 concerts but Beatlemania had reached its limits.. The band were immersed in the "More popular than Jesus" controversy, sparked by remarks on religion made by John Lennon.

The band returned to the Shea Stadium but during the performance hundreds of fans broke through barriers and attempted to reach the stage.

Various threats were made before the concerts, the Ku Klux Klan picketed the events, their music was banned on some radio stations and their records were burned on bonfires.

Someone threw an exploding firecracker on-stage during the evening concert in Memphis, it sounded like a gun shot and the three Beatles on stage, all looked immediately at John Lennon fearing he had been killed.

The Beatles played their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 29, 1966. They would never play a live concert again, devoting all their efforts to creating new material in the recording studio..

The phenomena known as Beatlemania had come to an end, but the legacy of the Beatles lives on to this day.

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