Fifty years ago this weekend, a four-piece guitar band from Liverpool touched down at Kennedy airport in New York and changed the course of popular culture in the twentieth century.
That much we can be sure of, and since the days of Beatlemania that guitar band has been credited with changing music, fashion, culture and everything else that really counted in the sixties.
The trans-Atlantic entertainment industry is gearing up for an avalanche of tributes and events to commemorate this anniversary. The dyspeptic rock critic Lester Bangs once railed against the never-ending re-release of the Beatles catalog by asking: “I’d like to know what I have missed by not missing the Beatles.”
The answer over the next few weeks is plenty: concerts, exhibits, panel discussions, documentaries, conferences and a pre-recorded Grammy tribute featuring a “reunion” of Paul and Ringo.
For that generation lucky enough to be swept along by Beatlemania, it was a unique event, a turning point for some.
There are still plenty of Americans of a certain age who can tell you exactly what happened when they first saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show that chilly February night: “I was two inches from the screen, screaming.”