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Shrieking Teens Trail Beatles Across Manhattan

Feb. 8, 1964 - Fifty NYPD patrolmen, ten mounted men, and two policewomen kept order today in a gaggle of giggling girls outside the old Hammerstein Theater at Broadway and 53rd Street. Inside, the Beatles were rehearsing for their American debut under the unblinking eye of their importer, Ed Sullivan. They will appear on his CBS television program tomorrow night in the network’s Studio 50 at the theater.

On the stage inside, the Beatles sang at half voice but played at full throttle. Ringo Starr, whose true name is Richard Starkey, sat behind his drums on a four-foot platform. George Harrison, who is known as the quiet Beatle, awoke today with a sore throat. He was treated by Dr. Jules Gordon, used a vaporizer, and joined his colleagues in the theater. “I should be perfect for tomorrow,” he said.

The Beatles stood in the center of a set consisting of half a dozen large white arrows pointing at them. Bill Bohnert, the program’s scenic designer, said: “I was attempting to symbolize the fact that the Beatles are here.” A spokesman for CBS said that the tickets for the theater’s 728 seats had been gone weeks ago. “Three CBS vice presidents were turned down,” he said. “I guess now they know where they stand.”

Mr. Sullivan signed the Beatles in November, just as their vogue was beginning here. Ray Block, the program’s goateed musical director, said, “The only thing that’s different about them, as far as I can see, is the hair. I give them a year.”

Five blocks away, several hundred other girls stood behind police barriers throughout the afternoon at the Plaza Hotel, where the Beatles are staying. Several carried signs expressing devotion to the four young British rock ’n’ roll singers. There were dissenters, however. A tall youth waved a placard that read, “Alonzo Tuske Hates the Beatles.” City police and private guards patrolled the hotel lobby and were posted outside the Beatles’ rooms on the 12th floor, which overlook 58th Street. In the Palm Court of the hotel, a violinist declined a request to play a medley of the Beatles’ hits. He said they didn’t sound right on the violin.


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