How It Started: For nearly 200 years, America repelled all things British. That ended on February 7, 1964, when John, Paul, George and Ringo deplaned at JFK, opening the eyes of American youth and the doors for the British Invasion.
Why It Mattered: Beatlemania consumed America and Americans consumed Beatlemania. The postwar generation was a youthquake, a baby boom suddenly realizing its central cultural position–right up near the stage by the amps. If you didn’t have a crush on John, Paul, George or Ringo, you would soon. Crewcuts grew into moptops, girls began to shriek wildly in public and boys bought guitars and Beatle boots.
Tiny fans were indoctrinated through the Beatles’ Saturday morning cartoon, while older brother and sister bought Beatle buttons, wigs, wallets, wallpaper and lunchboxes. Beatle dolls chased Barbie for popularity, and everyone chased the Beatles on the music charts. At one point, the Beatles accounted for 60 percent of the music industry’s business.
Even after the initial mania died down, the Fab Four remained at the fad fore, turning on, tuning in and selling a new flower-power mantra: “All You Need Is Love.” In 1970, they sang “Let It Be” and called it quits, splintering a generation.
The Last Word: Before the Invasion, Dick Clark tested a Beatles import single, “She Loves You,” on American Bandstand’s Rate-A-Record. It scored a 71 out of 100. Later, Dick quipped, “Score a miss for Rate-A-Record.”