In today’s Wall Street Journal, Marc Myers explains Beatlemania, writing:
From a cultural standpoint, Beatlemania in 1965 far exceeded teenage rages for Frank Sinatra in the 1940s and Elvis Presley in the ’50s—thanks largely to the proliferation of television sets and portable phonographs. In the months before their appearance at Shea Stadium, the Beatles unleashed three No. 1 singles, two No. 1 albums and a wave of branded merchandise, from toys and pens to lunchboxes and pin-on buttons. Their new color movie “Help!” opened in New York four days before the concert.
But the Beatles were part of a much broader incursion. In the first seven months of 1965, Billboard’s pop chart was flooded with hits by U.K. artists such as Petula Clark, the Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits and Tom Jones. On TV, Patty Duke played not only an American teenager but also her identical British cousin, one of the two stars of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” was British and jukebox shows like “Shindig,” “Hullabaloo” and “Where the Action Is” often showcased British acts.
Anglomania so permeated the youth culture in 1965 that many grade-schoolers and teens imagined London as an Oz-like gateway to adulthood and high-life sophistication. Millions of boys begged parents for Beatle haircuts, ankle boots and guitar lessons. Girls who saw future husbands in John, Paul, George and Ringo insisted on miniskirts and white boots. The sexual revolution had begun.
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