Hey there! This content appeared first in our newsletter, Shiny Things. If you want more stuff like this sent straight to you each weekend, sign up can be done HERE. We’d love to have you!
Calling the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan show a seminal moment in music history would be like saying the Moon landing was a watershed accomplishment for air travel. Around 75% of the entire adult population in America watched the broadcast. A record 50,000 requests came piling in for a spot in the 700-seat auditorium. American fans were hungry to see the next big thing — even lining up by the thousands to greet them as they arrived at JFK a couple days before.
As Paul, John, George, and Ringo walked onto the stage, pandemonium broke out — the sound of hundreds of screaming fans signified the beginning of Beatlemania. Within a couple of months, their songs were everywhere. At one point in April, each of the top 5 spots on the charts belonged to Beatles songs.
Billboard Hot 100 – Top Five for Week of April 4th, 1964
|This Week||Last Week||2WK Ago||Weeks on Chart||Title||Artist|
|1||27||–||2||Can’t Buy Me Love||The Beatles|
|2||3||7||4||Twist and Shout||The Beatles|
|3||1||1||11||She Loves You||The Beatles|
|4||2||2||12||I Want to Hold Your Hand||The Beatles|
|5||4||3||10||Please Please Me||The Beatles|
Just days before their trip across the pond, the Beatles were finishing up a tour in Paris. Sometime in late January, the group met up with Melody Maker Magazine editor Ray Coleman. Melody Maker was the “world’s oldest music weekly” and played a key role in covering The Beatles over the course of their career. Coleman was quite friendly with the band, and would go on to pen two of the most respected biographies of both Lennon and McCartney (as well as Beatles manager Brian Epstein).
The chaps from Liverpool signed a photocard issued by the Official Beatles Fan Club for Coleman. On its face, this is already a treasured artifact: Remarkable provenance, a collection of signatures from the entire band, and, as a cherry on top, the timing of the signature came mere weeks before the Ed Sullivan show appearance. But the specifics of this particular card amplify its rarity and significance to a new level.
“…the vast majority of signatures purported to come from the band were actually penned by secretaries”Frank Caiazzo, Beatles Autographs
A few months earlier, in September 1963, the Fan Club released the photocards featuring a legendary photo taken by Dezo Hoffman, The Beatles’ first professional photographer. This photo, featuring the group in collarless gray suits, has become one of the Beatles’ most enduring pictures — with some crediting the new look as an introduction to the new-look Beatles.
In fact, this photo (or variations from the shoot) would later be used on American sleeves for five singles: ‘She Loves You,’ ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ ‘Can’t Buy Me Love,’ ‘I’m Happy Just to Dance with You,’ and ‘And I Love Her.’
As Beatlemania sweeped Britain, members of the Fan Club were treated to signed cards, sent to them through the mail as a perk. The only problem was the newly-minted rock stars hardly had time to sit around signing thousands of fan giveaways. Instead, the vast majority of signatures purported to come from the band were actually penned by secretaries. Cards from the era actually signed by the names written in ink are incredibly scarce.
Somehow, Coleman’s copy has not only remained intact after more than half a century — but remains in ‘Fine’ condition. Authenticated by PSA/DNA, this singular piece of history is the only one of its kind to ever sell at public auction.
“The Beatles American Debut on The Ed Sullivan Show 1964.” Ed Sullivan Show, October 27, 2020. https://www.edsullivan.com/the-beatles-american-debut-on-the-ed-sullivan-show-1964-2/.
Conradt, Stacy. “10 Facts about the Beatles’s the Ed Sullivan Show Debut.” Mental Floss. Mental Floss, February 8, 2022. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/573682/the-beatles-ed-sullivan-debut-facts.
“The Beatles Arrive in New York.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, November 24, 2009. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/beatles-arrive-in-new-york.
BillboardGuy. “The Beatles Owned the Top 5 on April 4th, 1964.” Billboard Chart Rewind, December 2, 2021. https://billboardchartrewind.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/the-beatles-literally-owned-the-top-5/.
ABC News. ABC News Network. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/story?id=111887&page=1.
The Beatles autographs – presented by Frank Caiazzo – promotional cards. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.beatlesautographs.com/promotional-cards.htm.
Shea, Stuart, and Robert Rodriguez. Fab Four FAQ: Everything Left to Know about the Beatles– and More! New York: Hal Leonard, 2007.