March 21, 1964: Beatles She Loves You Hits #1

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Imagine being so monumentally popular that one of your recordings has just knocked another one of your records out of the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. And then, two weeks later, yet another of your songs replaces that one!

It’s only happened once in the history of the U.S. music trade magazine and, not surprisingly, the artist behind the feat was The Beatles. In the chart for the week ending March 21, 1964, “She Loves You” replaced “I Want to Hold Your Hand”—which had been perched at the top for seven weeks—as the most popular tune in America. It would give way on April 4 to “Can’t Buy Me Love,” when the Beatles made chart history yet again: they owned the top five hits in the United States of America. Four of those songs—the other was “Please Please Me”—were penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney while the fifth, “Twist and Shout,” was a cover of an earlier hit by the R&B sibling group the Isley Brothers.

“She Loves You,” like all five of these recordings, was already old news for the Beatles, having fueled what became known as Beatlemania in the U.K. starting in 1962 and reaching a fevered frenzy the following year. It had been released in England on Parlophone Records on August 23, 1963, racking up pre-orders of half a million units and quickly ascending to the #1 position in the U.K. “She Loves You” became the best-selling single in Britain for the year 1963 and remains the Beatles’ biggest single there to this day.

Related: The Beatles’ 1st U.S. visit, 1964

America was another story though. Where the group had had more than a year to make its mark at home, when it took America by storm at the start of 1964 there was a lot of catching up to do. Although it was Capitol Records’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” that got the ball rolling officially, other labels like Swan and Vee-Jay discovered that they owned the rights to some of these recordings—which had largely been dismissed in the U.S. before—and dumped them onto the market. American Beatles fans may not have understood the legal reasons why there was suddenly an influx of Beatle music to be had, but no one was complaining. The way things were going in early 1964, the Beatles probably could have owned the rest of the top 10 too!

Watch the Fab Four lip-sync “She Loves You” in 1963

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