Dec 26, ’63: ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ U.S. Release

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Beatles I Want To HoldHard to imagine – impossible really – but Capitol Records, which is essentially synonymous with the rise of The Beatles in America, had turned down their sister U.K. label Parlophone’s efforts to release the group’s singles stateside.

That all changed with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” The single was released in the U.K. on November 29, 1963, though it took two weeks to hit #1 there where the group’s “She Loves You” was ensconced.

Capitol scheduled it for a mid-January 1964 release but clever U.S. radio DJs that were privy to the song’s overseas success arranged to get copies shipped to them and began playing the import early. This forced Capitol’s hand and the single’s release date was moved up to December 26 to “Capitol”-ize on the demand. (OK, we made that word up.) With the floodgates opened, the 45 is reported to have sold 250,000 copies within days.

Related: Beatles Fan’s Memorable Meeting With John Lennon

The Beatles’ impact in America cannot be overstated: When “I Want To Hold Your Hand”–with John Lennon and Paul McCartney both singing lead–hit #1 on February 1, 1964, it became the first of seven #1 singles they achieved in a one-year period, launching both Beatlemania and the British Invasion.

Speaking of “hand,” check out what McCartney is holding in his hand in the above picture sleeve.

Here’s their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show eight days later.

This is the first in a series of articles about “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and its impact.

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