Today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles US debut, the day they flew into New York to an airport welcome not unlike what had been happening at Heathrow during the past year, which must have set their pulses racing. It was the final item on last night’s 10 o’clock BBC TV news, the now familiar b&w footage of them walking down the steps on to the tarmac, the cops staring at them because they’d never seen hair like that before on men, the press conference at which they charmed the media, the desperate girls with their placards outside the Plaza Hotel and, of course, their iconic appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, the moment when America saw them for the first time and said yes. It’s still magic and always will be.
They also showed some footage from the Washington show a few days later, that mad concert where they played ‘in the round’ and had to shift the amps and drums after every few songs so that everyone could see them. Paul sang 'I Saw Her Standing There' and John sang ‘Twist And Shout’, shaking his head and trying to make himself heard above the screams, and the more he shook the more they screamed. Although it wasn’t shown on TV last night, Brian was at the back staring down at his boys, Neil and Mal were on guard at the sides of the stage – yes The Beatles had just two roadies – and at the end The Beatles bowed low, as they always did, that gesture of salute that became as fixed in the mind as Paul's violin bass, George's big, unwieldy Gretsch guitar and John's face-'em-down, legs-apart stance.
So it was fit and proper that after the news Lisa and I went across to the Compasses pub where my friend Al Duncan’s band The Beautiful Losers were playing and they closed their set with ‘Twist And Shout’, played in the Fabs’ arrangement, and, at the end, they bowed low, just like John, Paul and George. It was pre-rehearsed, Al told me, and it was a fine gesture to mark the day The Beatles changed America.