Sunday, March 2, 2014

Which Radio Station Played the first BEATLE SONG in the USA .. 50 yrs Ago ?

"A disc jockey in Washington, D.C., working on station WWDC, had somehow obtained a copy of I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND, and was playing it on the air amid a commotion of interest from his listeners. The record had come not from Capitol but from London via the disc jockey's girl friend, who was a stewardess with British Overseas Airways. 'Capitol wanted to get clearance on the publishing side, to be able to ship a few hundred copies into the Washington area,' Walter Hofer says. 'In fact, I had to tell them that the publishing rights had been sold to another company, MCA. Sold for almost nothing, it so happened, just to give the song any foothold that was possible over here.' "While Capitol tried to resolve this trifling matter, a second, identical commotion was reported from Chicago. A radio station was being besieged by inquiries after playing a song called I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND by the British group THE BEATLES. Apparently, it had been sent on tape from a friend of the disc jockey's at WWDC, Washington. From Chicago, by the same fraternal taping process, it moved west again, to St. Louis. "In New York ... a drastic change was ordered in the marketing strategy of Capitol Records. A week earlier, Brown Meggs and his colleagues had been uneasy about the prospective pressing for I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND of 200,000 copies. Now, three production plants ... Capitol's own and that of CBS and RCA ... were alerted to work through Christmas and New Year, to press one million copies." However, as we ALL know, I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND was NOT the first BEATLES record to be released here in the United States. This was their BREAKTHROUGH hit, but earlier releases of PLEASE PLEASE ME, FROM ME TO YOU and SHE LOVES YOU (on the much smaller, independent labels VeeJay and Swan), were released first with little or no fanfare. So, whereas WWDC can certainly lay claim to breaking THE BEATLES' first HIT record, I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND, they were NOT the first radio station in the country to play a BEATLES tune on the radio. (Likewise, EVERYBODY remembers the first appearance of THE BEATLES on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW ... it was watched by a record-breaking number of people ... but it was NOT their first U.S. television appearance. Before Ed booked the band, they had already been featured on THE JACK PAAR SHOW and in a news segment with WALTER CRONKITE ... but it was the ED SULLIVAN appearance that got all the attention!) *** Here is a bit of info on how DC happened to have the honor of the first American Beatles concert date. On December 10, 1963, Marsha Albert, a 14 year old in Maryland, saw the Beatles on the Walter Cronkite News Program. She wrote to local DJ Carroll James at WWDC radio and asked him why this type of music wasn't getting airplay on his station. With some difficulty, British Airlines assisted Carroll in obtaining a Beatles recording. On December 17, 1963, Marsha Albert introduced it as follows: "Ladies and Gentlemen, for the first time in the United States, here are the Beatles singing 'I Want to Hold Your Hand'." Capitol records was considering an injunction to stop him from playing the record, as their plan was to release it in late January, just prior to a scheduled appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. In fact, the record was so well received locally that they quickly pressed a few hundred copies for the DC area. James Carroll recalls taping it for a disk jocky to play in Chicago. The Chicago DJ taped it for someone in St. Louis and the record took off in both cities. Consequently, the release date was moved to 12/27/63. By January, 1964, the word was out that Capitol records wanted DC to be the first stop on a concert tour. After some wrangling over the location, the Washington Coliseum was chosen. Supposedly, they were booked for $10,000. All seats were reserved at $2, $3 or $4. Today, the Coliseum is now a trash drop-off center for Washington, DC. The Beatles arrived in New York on 2/8/64 and our local department store offered "Meet The Beatles" for $2.64 the same day. (My birthday is 2/16, so you know what I got!) I was 11 years old and sadly didn't have the sense to pester my parents enough to take me to the concert.
Years later George Martin explained why EMI wanted to release the Beatle songs and Capitol did not ..
And I basically got my first album for the same price in Alabama ..
I first put this article on my blog October 1 of 2013 ... Bobby Jon Key

Sunday, December 1, 2013


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