Sunday, December 26

The Birthplace of Beatlemania

Why the mayhem started and why it was occurring around The Beatles is a question asked from the very beginning of their success. What could possibly explain the rapid, spontaneous, widespread worldwide overreaction to the Beatles? Nothing before or since comes close to equaling the emotional epidemic surrounding the Beatles. Girls went to their concerts and wept uncontrollably; they covered their ears and screamed at the mere sight of the Beatles. Boys as well were lured by their charm. Their audiences were described as hypnotic, spellbound, transfixed and in ecstasy in their presence. The hysteria and mania they evoked left the world dumbfounded. Everywhere they traveled they created bedlam. Their lives were the center of a continuous unrestrained uproar.

The media continually pressed them for an answer:

New York City, February 7, 1964. Q: "What do you think your music does for these people?"

Washington DC, February 11, 1964. Q: "Tell me this. Why do you think you're so popular all of a sudden?"

Melbourne, Australia, June 14, 1964. Q: "In view of the fact that you've had so much experience now with crowd hysteria, are you still at a loss to put your finger on the reason why?"

Q: "Can we ask you to amplify the point, how this hysteria generates? Nobody seems to be able to put their finger on a reason why. It seems to be a combination of things. What do you believe it is?"

New York City, August 28, 1964. Q: "As seriously as you can, how do you account for the type of reception you get?" PAUL: "We can't account for it, you know. We..."

Q: "It's been going on for quite a few months now. You must have some ideas about why people like you."

Chicago, Illinois, September 5, 1964. Q: "Will you tell us why you think you are so popular?"
JOHN: "We don't think about it. We get asked that, you know-- somebody asks us that every day, and we've no answer."

An answer to the question of why? Had John Lennon entered into a 20 year pact with the Devil for wealth and world fame, to become bigger than Elvis Presley, to become legend, we know when it ended, Monday, December 8, 1980 (Liverpool time: Tuesday, December 9, 1980). If we go back 20 years from the time of his death and ask the question, “Did anything unusual occur in Beatles’ history in December of 1960?” This would mark the beginning of a 20 year pact.

On Tuesday, December 27, 1960, The Beatles played the Town Hall Ballroom in Litherland, Liverpool. On this night they evoked a response from the crowd noticeably different from anything in their past. The response was so unusual it was documented in their history ‘Beatles’ Anthology’ and described in Mark Lewisohn’s book ‘The Complete Beatles Chronicle (page 2). On the night of Tuesday, December 27, 1960, “As the curtains shuffled open and Paul launched himself into Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’, everyone suddenly and spontaneously crushed forward to the front of the stage, swept away by the group’s sheer magnetism.” The Beatles “were an absolute powerhouse, creating an inexplicable and unprecedented frenzy among the spellbound teenagers.” It was said that following this single night performance, The Beatles never looked back. What happened the night of Tuesday, December 27, 1960, when the sudden ‘magnetism’ and ‘unprecedented frenzy’ broke out among what was described as ‘spellbound teenagers’? Nothing in the Beatles past compared to the crowd response on this night. It was before any single hit record and before wide national attention. Suddenly, it was as if a spell was set to their music and the Beatles became a hit.

By the end of 1963 all of Great Britain was under their spell. Great Britain was witnessing a phenomenon like never before seen. John deemed the British success as local attention and inadequate. Liverpool, London or all of Great Britain for that matter, weren’t enough for John, he wanted the entire world. After their Liverpool, Empire Theater concert on Saturday, December 7, 1963, John called his friend Pete Shotton and asked him to meet him at Mimi’s house. When Pete arrived he found John had left to his Aunt Harrie’s house. It was there he found John, with his backed turned digging through a cabinet of his personal belongings, collecting some old books and papers he said he wanted to take with him to London. Pete said that evening John talked excessively about his desire for riches and world fame and his desire to become legend. He talked about the recent success of his band, the ‘screaming mobs’, the ‘getaway limousines’ and celebrities they were meeting. He talked about the girls he was screwing in the dressing rooms and how at each concert their road manager Mal Evans would select the ‘most ravishing ticket holders’. It was a small taste of the things John desired most. That night, Pete described how John went on and on about America. “America, America, America” he repeated again and again, like an incantation.” “Now if I can just get America, I’ve got the f…ing world.” (Pete Shotton, In My Life, page 78). Pete specifically describes John’s words as an incantation: a formula used in ritual recitation, verbal charms or spells to produce a magic effect. In just a few weeks John Lennon’s incantation was answered. Within days, Brian Epstein received a call from Ed Sullivan in America.

U.S. Newspaper headlines from 1963:

“The Royal Family are the latest to fall victim to Beatlemania, the mysterious wave of hysteria which is sweeping Britain…”

“The thought of U.S. teen-agers becoming Beatle Bewitched is frightening.”

By the end of 1964, well, you know the rest of the story - Beatlemania encompassed the globe.

In 1970-71, John was asked by Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone Magazine: “What accounted for your great popularity?”

John’s response left no wiggle room: “Because I f..king did it…” he said. “Even London was something we used to dream of, and London's nothing. I came out of the f..king sticks to take over the world…”

The Beatles were good but were they that much better than the Rolling Stones, The Kinks or Led Zeppelin? In Adelaide, Australia, in 1964, an estimated 300,000 people pooled outside their hotel room! John likened the crowds to the type Hitler attracted. In some videos you can see him performing the Nazi salute to the crowd.

What started on Tuesday, December 27 (2 + 7 = 9), 1960, ended on Tuesday, December 9, 1980 (Liverpool time).

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