Here are a few days in history during the time period we cover, which is from the beginning of the Eisenhower administration in the early 1950s to the appearance of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. In 1963, The Beatles are recording their breakthrough record for the American market. In 1955, we have the beginning of jet airliners for commercial use as well as the premiere of The Village Voice.
On this day, The Beatles were recording “I Want to Hold Your Hand” at Abbey Road Studios in London. (Their manager Brian Epstein was worried about the momentum of their careers and had suggested that they write a song for the American market. John Lennon and Paul McCartney obliged with “I Want to Hold your Hand.” The B-Side was “I Saw Her Standing There.”) The song became a #1 hit first in the U.K. By February 1, 1964, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” rose to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. On February 9, 1964, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. And so began the British invasion and the decline of doo-wop as a signature sound. Please click here for a video of the Fab Four singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on TV on that fateful Sunday night.
Both Time and Life magazines reported that aviation entered the jet age this week – and U.S. aviation stock skyrocketed (so to speak). Pan Am signed a contract for 25 Douglas DC-8s and 20 Boeing 707 four-jet airliners for the unheard-of sum of $269 million. Other airlines soon followed the trend. The jet and turbo-prop engines had been used in military aircraft during World War II. Now in commercial airlines, the ride would be faster, smoother, and often take half the time. Air flight became more practical and more affordable. (Flying actually used to be fun…) Please click here for a video of Pan Am’s introduction to this service.
The Village gets a voice! The first edition of The Village Voice appeared on October 26, 1955. It was founded by Ed Franchen, Dan Wolf, John Wilcock, and Norman Mailer. The free alternative weekly’s offerings included investigative news, events, political commentary, and reviews of art, music, and theater. It was a new and different way to tell the news from those from the counter culture. Even a partial list of its contributors gives a picture: Nat Hentoff, e. e. cummings, Henry Miller, Allen Ginsberg, Ezra Pound, Katherine Anne Porter, Jules Feiffer, R. Crumb, and Matt Groening. Please click here to hear about Norman Mailer and the beginning of The Village Voice.