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“Beatlemania” Strikes Britain

Nov. 4, 1963 - “Beatlemania,”a new form of madness, is striking everywhere in Britain, and tonight the Queen Mother herself confronted the four lads responsible. There on the stage of London’s Prince of Wales Theater stood a quartet called the Beatles, and there across the moat of Establishment faces sat the Queen Mother. “Those in the cheaper seats, clap,” said John Lennon, one of the Beatles. “The rest of you rattle your jewelry.” Then the Beatles broke into “From Me to You,” and the Queen Mother beamed. A short year ago, the lads were singing such songs as “Twist and Shout” and “Love Me Do” into the din of the tough Merseyside pubs. Now, they earn $5,000 a week playing one-night stands all over Britain. Their records have sold 2.5 million copies, and crowds stampede for a chance to touch the hem of the collarless coats sported onstage by all four of them. They look like shaggy Peter Pans, with their mushroom haircuts and high white shirt collars, and onstage they clown around endlessly. “I dropped in at a smoky, smelly, squalid cellar,” says Brian Epstein, the group’s manager, of the day he discovered them, “and there were these four youths. Their act was ragged, their clothes were a mess. And yet I sensed at once that there was something here.” Such talk amuses the Beatles. “The day the fans desert us,” says 23-year-old John Lennon, “I’ll be wondering how I’m going to pay for my whisky and Cokes.” The other Beatles — bass guitarist Paul McCartney, 21, guitarist George Harrison, 20, and 23-year-old drummer Ringo Starr (who wears four rings on his fingers) — are also keeping their heads. “We’re not interested in living it up,” says Ringo. “All our money goes into Beatles, Ltd., and we take only enough out for clothes and a few ciggies."


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