-- The media has been buzzing about the 50th anniversary of The Beatles debut U.S. appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show this February 9, but another major event in Fab Four history occurred more than a week earlier. On February 1, 1964, the band scored its first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with "I Want to Hold Your Hand," which was one of the five tunes the group performed on the Sullivan Show.
The Beatles first released the infectious pop-rock track as a single in the U.K. on November 29, 1963, and it ascended to #1 there two weeks later -- bumping the band's "She Loves You" out of the top slot. In the U.S., the song was issued on December 26, earlier than originally planned because pre-release copies of the single had received such a hugely popular response on American radio. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" made its first Billboard chart appearance in the #45 spot on January 18, 1964, then leaped to #3 the following week before topping the tally on February 1.
Speaking this week about the milestone, Billboard Director of Charts Silvio Pietroluongo noted that it was just the beginning of The Beatles' phenomenal chart success in the U.S.
"It started a run of over 30 charting hits just in 1964 alone, and with six of those going to #1," he tells ABC News Radio.
The single knocked Bobby Vinton's "There I've Said Again" out of the top slot, and remained there for seven weeks. As Pietroluongo points out, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" hitting #1 also was the start of an historic Hot 100 streak for the Fab Four.
"[It] started a string of three straight #1's by The Beatles," he notes. "'I Want to Hold Your Hand' was followed by 'She Loves You,' which was followed by 'Can't Buy Me Love,' and they're the only act in Hot 100's history to link three consecutive #1's, back to back to back."
In addition, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was the first of an amazing 20 singles overall to top the Billboard Hot 100, more than any other artist; Mariah Carey is second with 18.
Looking back on what led to the success of the band, Pietroluongo says, "It's often said that The Beatles' popularity was probably the first [example of the power] of social media, just word of mouth spreading from overseas to here and people learning about this charismatic foursome from the U.K."
With regard to why U.S. audiences found the song so appealing, Silvio adds, "'I Want to Hold Your Hand' is such a different-sounding record for that time, and it just caught everyone's attention…It was just something that was not the normal music fare on the radio."
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