Although The Beatles’ popularity had been growing steadily and to increasingly frantic heights throughout 1963, their appearance at the London Palladium on Sunday 13 October catapulted them into the attentions of the mainstream media, who coined the term ‘Beatlemania’ to describe the scenes of screaming fans.
Val Parnell’s Sunday Night At The London Palladium was a variety entertainment programme that regularly drew huge British TV audiences of up to 15 million people. Competition to appear was fierce, and The Beatles were taking no chances, having spent the previous evening rehearsing.
On the night they appeared briefly at the beginning of the show, before compère Bruce Forsythe told the audience, “If you want to see them again they’ll be back in 42 minutes.”
And indeed they were. The Beatles topped the bill that night, closing the hour-long show. They began with ‘From Me To You’, followed by ‘I’ll Get You’, which was introduced by Paul McCartney with some jovial interjections from John Lennon.
Their most recent hit, ‘She Loves You’, was next, announced collectively by Lennon, McCartney and George Harrison.
Then came the finale. Paul McCartney attempted to announce it, but was drowned out by the screams from the frenzied audience. Lennon told them to “shut up”, a gesture which was applauded by the older members in the audience. McCartney then asked them all to clap and stamp their feet, and they began ‘Twist And Shout’.
The Beatles’ appearance featured on the ITN news, complete with footage from the group’s dressing room. The following day, meanwhile, newspaper reporters wrote breathless front-page stories about the screaming fans.
The group’s status as a new phenomenon was confirmed, with Beatlemania dominating the airwaves and press for years to come.
Also on this day...
- 2017: Ringo Starr live: Planet Hollywood Resort, Las Vegas
- 2015: Paul McCartney live: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
- 2015: Ringo Starr live: Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Calgary, Canada
- 2014: Paul McCartney live: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
- 2008: PS I don’t love you: Ringo tells fans to stop writing
- 1968: Recording, mixing: Julia, Dear Prudence, Wild Honey Pie, Back In The USSR, Blackbird
- 1965: Recording: Drive My Car
- 1964: Live: ABC Cinema, Wigan
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (evening)
- 1960: Live: Kaiserkeller, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
I thought you might be interested in an extract from my book “Diary of a Musician”
Sunday 13th October 1963
Beatlemania was officially born on Sunday 13th October 1963 when the Beatles appeared on the top variety show of the time, Sunday Night at The London Palladium which was introduced by Bruce Forsyth. The show normally opened with a dance group called the Tiller Girls, but on this night, the curtains opened and there were the Beatles singing just the opening verse of “Please Please Me”. The audience went wild with girls screaming at the tops of their voices. The curtains closed and for the next forty odd minutes Bruce Forsyth had a tough job trying to keep the audience from screaming during the other acts which consisted of a singer called Brook Benton and Des O’Connor.
Finally Bruce appeared on stage dressed in a “Beatles” collarless suit and a wig and said “I thought I’d be a dead ringer for Ringo,— are you ready—are you steady— 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, the Beatles”. Cue for pandemonium as they sang “From Me To You”, “I’ll Get You”, “She Loves You” and finally “Twist and Shout”. The papers the following day reported the scenes of screaming fans inside and outside The Palladium and one of the papers coined the phrase, “Beatlemania”. I still have my original reel to reel tape of the show, recorded with a microphone in front of the TV. It was just a year since the release of their first record “Love Me Do” (5/10/1962) and yet with only eighteen songs commercially available the Beatles were already the biggest pop act this country had ever seen, and nobody, and I’m sure, not even the Beatles themselves realised that the best was yet to come.
One thing the Beatles suffered from this evening was something that would often occur when they performed live on television, and that was bad sound balancing. Whoever was balancing the sound would often assume that there had to be a lead singer which wasn’t always the case. The Beatles would use only two microphones on stage and when they sang songs like “From Me to You”, and “She Loves You”, John and Paul used separate mikes but would both be singing the lead line and occasionally breaking off into a harmony, sometimes with George joining them. At the beginning of their first number “From Me to You”, Paul’s microphone was hardly on so the sound was a bit odd. What should have happened was the two mikes should have been left at the same volume leaving the Beatles to balance themselves vocally, which is what they had been used to doing after playing up to six hours a night in German clubs.