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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

February 1, 1964

Happy February, everyone!  It may be the shortest month of the year, but here in the blog, I've got quite a few things planned.  We're going to kick things off with the Wayback Wednesday post, and with the state of the world these days, I think a lighthearted topic is the way to go here.

Of course, before we get to that point, we should probably have a look at some of the events that happened on this date in history as well as wishing a few famous folks a happy birthday.

So, on February 1, the following things took place...

1793 - France declares war on the Netherlands and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary War

1796 - The capital of Upper Canada is changed from Newark to York - which would eventually become Toronto

1814 - 1,200 people lose their lives following the eruption of Mayon Volcano in the Philippines

1851 - Author/playwright Mary Shelley dies at the age of 53

1861 - Texas secedes from the United States

1865 - Less than three months before his assassination, President Abraham Lincoln signs the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, officially abolishing slavery within the country

1884 - The first volume of the Oxford English Dictionary is published

1893 - Thomas Edison finishes construction of the first motion picture studio in West Orange, New Jersey

1901 - Actor Clark Gable (d. 1960) is born in Cadiz, Ohio

1938 - Actor Sherman Hemsley (d. 2012) is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1947 - News reporter Jessica Savitch (d. 1983) is born in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

1948 - Musician/producer Rick James (d. 2004) is born in Buffalo, New York

1960 - Four African-American students begin what comes to be known as a series of "sit-in's" at a Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina

1964 - Warrant lead singer Jani Lane (d. 2011) is born in Akron, Ohio

1965 - Actor/martial artist Brandon Lee (d. 1993) is born in Oakland, California

1966 - Actor/director Buster Keaton dies at the age of 70

1968 - Canada's three military services unite to become the Canadian Forces

1982 - David Letterman debuts his late night talk show on NBC

1988 - Child actress Heather O'Rourke passes away at the age of 12

2002 - Kidnapped journalist Daniel Pearl is beheaded by his captors in Pakistan

2003 - Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates upon reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts inside

2010 - A suicide bombing takes place in Baghdad, Iraq, killing 54 people

2012 - "Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius passes away at the age of 75

2013 - Former New York City Mayor and People's Court judge Ed Koch dies at the age of 88

And turning one year older today are the following famous faces; Bob Shane, Don Everly, Ray Sawyer, Jerry Spinelli, Normie Rowe, Rich Williams, Sonny Landreth, Linus Roache, Princess Stephanie of Monaco, Meg Cabot, Lisa Marie Presley, Pauly Shore, Brian Krause, Patrick Wilson, Michael C. Hall, Ron Welty, Big Boi, Tim Harding, Skylar Laine, and Harry Styles.

All right.  So, what day will we be revisiting in ye olde Wayback machine?

Ah, yes.  February 1, 1964

I have to say, this is a very important date in music history - one that I unfortunately missed by seventeen years.  It's too bad too.  I would have liked to have seen it.  Heck, I would have loved to have been alive when all four members of this band were still alive.

Unfortunately for me, that never came to be.  I was born in May of 1981...and John Lennon was murdered in December 1980.  But even though I have never known a world where all four Beatles were alive, I can still listen to them at any given opportunity whenever I want.

I can tell you that growing up in small town Ontario, the Beatles were definitely a part of my childhood soundtrack.  My whole family listened to their music and loved almost every single song.  My computer teacher in grade 7 and 8 would play Beatles records while we did assignments.  And when I was a teenager, I seem to recall that a Beatles themed radio show hosted by former MTV video jockey J.J. Jackson would air every Saturday morning in between Backtrax USA and Rick Dees' Weekly Top 40 show. 

But would you believe that prior to February 1, 1964, the Beatles were virtually unheard of in North America?

Well, okay, I suppose that prior to 1964, some Americans and Canadians became aware of the band that began in Liverpool, England in 1960, and had one hit right after another in the United Kingdom between 1962 and 1964.  But it wasn't until this date fifty-three years ago that the Beatles would make their mark on American culture in a huge way.

The reason why?  It all has to do with this song...

ARTIST:  The Beatles
SONG:  I Want to Hold Your Hand
ALBUM:  Meet The Beatles!
DATE RELEASED:  November 29, 1963

Okay. so a little bit of clarification before we go on.  First, the date of release listed for this song is the UK release.  It wasn't released in the USA until December 26, 1963.  And secondly, this song is one of the few songs to exist that was replaced at the top of the charts by another song by the same band!  At the end of the run of "I Want to Hold Your Hand", the song was replaced by another Beatles' tune, "She Loves You".  Interestingly enough, in the UK, it was the other way around, with "She Loves You" being replaced by "I Want to Hold Your Hand".  Quite the neat bit of trivia, isn't it?

Anyway, the song itself is brilliant, and it's definitely listed high up there among my list of favourite Beatles tunes.  It's a classic tune of love combined with the rock style that was all the rage in the early 1960s.  And while conservative parents criticized the Beatles for wrecking the music scene, their teenage daughters could not get enough of John, Paul, George, and Ringo.  Remember the buzz that the band received when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show for their American television debut?  Their first appearance was filmed just eight days after this song reached the top of teh charts.  It's a wonder nobody went deaf from all of the screeching in unison of young girls and young adults in the building at the time. 

So, how did the song manage to make it to American audiences in the first place?  Well, that story is quite the tale.  It all began in November 1963, when the song was first released in the UK.  Seeing the huge success that the single had in the UK, Beatles manager Brian Epstein and EMI convinced American record label Capitol Records to take a chance on the "Fab Four".  The deal was eventually made with Capitol promising to release the single in mid-January 1964.

But how did it end up that the single was released two weeks earlier than it was supposed to?

Well, you can thank a fourteen year old girl named Marsha Albert for that.  She wrote a local disc jockey named Carroll James and asked him to order the record of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" to play on his radio station, which he did.  In fact, it was Marsha Albert who introduced the record once it arrived at the radio station.  And when the song played, it instantly became a huge hit.  So much so that the phone lines to the radio station kept getting barraged with calls to play the Beatles record.  Of course, Capitol Records wasn't very happy with the fact that a radio station received the record before they had the chance to release it themselves, and they were forced to bump up the release date to the day after Christmas in 1963 as a result.

In the end though, it didn't matter much.  The song hit #1 53 years ago today and paved the way for the "British Invasion".  The Beatles were music trailblazers in a way because of it.

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