John, Paul, George and Ringo didn’t quite know what to expect when they arrived at New York City’s JFK Airport on February 7, 1964 on The Beatles’ first trip to America. However, it’s a moment that’s permanently etched in music history thanks to the photos and video captured that day.
“Beatlemania” was a force, and two-and-a-half months after the shocking tragedy of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, it was just what America needed.
Press Conference at JFK Airport
In hindsight, it’s wild to think about how a band coming to the United States warranted this type of media attention. At the same time, not enough is said about how funny The Beatles were. The way they fielded questions at this press conference at JFK Airport is an incredible lesson in how natural charm can just shine through. Plus, there wasn’t media training in the ’60s like there is today. This was just The Beatles being themselves, and it’s brilliant. (Side note: It’s also wild to see George Harrison casually smoking a cigarette during the indoor press conference. What a different time!)
Newsreel on The Beatles arriving in New York
It does not get more historic than the sheer existence of a newsreel. Between the footage of The Beatles getting off their plane at JFK Airport and the narrator of the newsreel, there’s just a magic about it all. The newsreel states about 3,000 teens were waiting for The Beatles to land. Considering the security at airport nowadays, it is an amazing thing to watch.
In the newsreel’s caption on YouTube, Paul McCartney is quoted saying, ” … There were journalists on the plane, and the pilot had rang ahead and said, ‘Tell the boys there’s a big crowd waiting for them.’ We thought, ‘Wow! God, we really have made it.'”