Chart Rewind: In 1964, The Beatles’ ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ Hit No. 1 on the Hot 100

Chart Rewind: In 1964, The Beatles’ ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ Hit No. 1 on the Hot 100

Music

On the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated Feb. 1, 1964, The Beatles hit No. 1 for the first time with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The groundbreaking single began a run of the band’s 20 leaders, the most in the chart’s history.

The track, on Capitol Records, marked The Beatles’ first entry on any Billboard chart when it debuted on the Jan. 18, 1964, Hot 100. It vaulted to No. 3 the following week, ahead of its seven-week coronation.

Six pages ahead of the Hot 100 in the Feb. 1 Billboard issue, The Beatles were in the spotlight of the “Artists’ Biographies” feature. Alongside a photo of the mop-topped members smiling – from left to right, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon – Billboard informed readers, “These four youngsters have created an international stir with ‘beatlemania,’ and have hit our shores with unprecedented impact.

“They have been working together since 1958 in various cellar clubs in Liverpool,” the story continued. “After an engagement in Germany, they were brought to the attention of their manager, Brian Epstein … They will personally visit the U.S. this month for television appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.”

The band famously first played CBS’ Sunday night variety show on Feb. 9, 1964. The typically copy-heavy front page of the Feb. 15 issue broke tradition and showed The Beatles behind Billboard’s logo, above three stories devoted to the band. “U.S. Rocks & Reels From Beatles’ Invasion,” read the main headline.

Noted one story, New York’s WINS radio “upstaged CBS-TV by taping exclusive interviews with The Beatles, which were aired once an hour on Thursday (6) and Friday (7). On Sunday, at 7 p.m., one hour before their scheduled debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Beatles were heard on WINS in a 30-minute special.”

Per another story, “Capitol branch manager Tom Beckwith said he had moved over 100,000 Beatles LPs and over 150,000 Beatles singles. He said in the 10 years he’s been in the record business, The Beatles are the hottest recording artists he’s ever seen.”

The Beatles banked six Hot 100 No. 1s in 1964, still the most of any act in a single year.

Excluding holiday fare, The Beatles broke the record for the longest top 10 span on the Hot 100 among all acts in November: 59 years, nine months and three weeks, from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to the debut of their newly-released, No. 7-peaking single – the band’s 35th top 10, the most among groups – “Now and Then.”

With a record 19 No. 1s on the Billboard 200 albums chart, to go along with their unprecedented 20 Hot 100 leaders, The Beatles rank atop Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Artists chart.

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