Following their first night of performances at the Olympia Theatre, Paris, The Beatles arrived back at the Hotel George V where they were told that I Want To Hold Your Hand had reached number one in America.
A telegram came through to Brian from Capitol Records of America. He came running in to the room saying, ‘Hey, look. You are number one in America!’ I Want To Hold Your Hand had gone to number one.
Well, I can’t describe our response. We all tried to climb onto Big Mal’s back to go round the hotel suite: ‘Wey-hey!’ And that was it, we didn’t come down for a week.
The song was number one in the Cash Box chart, which had been compiled on the previous day. It showed that The Beatles had leapt from number 43 to the top spot.
It was such a buzz to find that it had gone to number one. We went out to dinner that evening with Brian and George Martin. George took us to a place which was a vault, with huge barrels of wine around. It was a restaurant and its theme was… well, the bread rolls were shaped like penises, the soup was served out of chamber pots and the chocolate ice cream was like a big turd. And the waiter came round and tied garters on all the girls’ legs. I’ve seen some pictures of us. There is a photograph around of Brian with the pot on his head.
It was a great feeling because we were booked to go to America directly after the Paris trip, so it was handy to have a number one. We’d already been hired by Ed Sullivan, so if it had been a number two or number ten we’d have gone anyway, but it was nice to have a number one.
We did have three records out in America before this one. The others were on two different labels. It was only after all the publicity and the Beatlemania in Europe that Capitol Records decided, ‘Oh, we will have them.’ They put out I Want To Hold Your Hand as our first single, but in fact it was our fourth.
The Beatles celebrated until 5am. Almost immediately after hearing the news, Brian Epstein took a call from a Detroit promoter offering the group $10,000 for a single concert.
We couldn’t believe it. We all just started acting like people from Texas, hollering and shouting, ‘Ya-hoo!’; I think that was the night we finished up sitting on a bench by the Seine; just the four of us and Neil. In those days we’d promise Neil £20,000 if he’d go for a swim. He’d go for a swim and we’d say, ‘No, sorry.’
Also on this day...
- 1980: Paul McCartney is arrested in Japan for marijuana possession
- 1970: John Lennon’s Bag One exhibition is raided by police
- 1967: Joe Orton begins writing a script for The Beatles’ third film
- 1965: Live: Another Beatles Christmas Show
- 1964: Live: Olympia Theatre, Paris
- 1963: Radio: Here We Go
- 1963: Television: People And Places
- 1957: The Cavern Club opens in Mathew Street, Liverpool
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.