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The Beatles touched down in America 60 years ago. Thousands of shrieking fans mobbed JFK to catch a glimpse of the Fab Four.

The Beatles arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport
The Beatles — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — arriving to cheering mobs at John F. Kennedy Airport on Feb. 7, 1964. (CBS via Getty Images)
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Swifties are such a hot topic these days, but 60 years ago, America had succumbed to Beatlemania.

On Feb. 7, 1964, Liverpool, England’s beloved foursome, the BeatlesJohn Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — inched closer to global popularity by making their U.S. debut. As their plane touched down at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens, N.Y., thousands of fans turned out to greet them ahead of their live TV debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.

“We've never seen anything like this here before. Never. Not even for kings and queens,” an airport official told the New York Times of the mob scene at the time.

Beatles fans at JFK airport
Beatles fans at the airport had to be restrained by police. (Hal Mathewson/N.Y. Daily News archive via Getty Images)

It was estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 people, including some standing four deep on the international arrivals building observation deck, were there to witness history in the making.

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 7: Fans scream with excitement at the arrival of The Beatles to John F. Kennedy International Airport, February 7, 1964. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Fans screamed with excitement. (CBS via Getty Images)

They had been urged by radio DJs — aware of the chart-topping success the Beatles were having in the U.K. — to be the first to greet the band, which had sold 6 million records. And they showed up in force, creating a full-on mob scene.

New York City police officers try to contain several hundred Beatles fans
Police try to contain the throngs who turned out to see the Beatles. (Getty Images)

Many of the spectators were high school students skipping class. Some drove over a thousand miles. The New York Times reported that there were “girls, girls and more girls” among the masses. “Whistling girls. Screaming girls. Singing girls.”

Screaming Beatles fans at JFK
Screaming Beatles fans at JFK. (Marvin Sussman/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

The pictures show there were also lots of men, men and more men.

Protesters and enthusiastic banners greet the Beatles
Fans greet the Beatles at JFK airport. February 1964. (Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

No iPhones glued to their hands like today, fans instead held signs. Some said, “Welcome!” or “Beatles, we love you.” Many more referenced their mop tops: “Beatles Are Starving the Barbers” and “Beatles Unfair to Bald Men.”

Of course, there was lots of Beatles merch.

Fans decked out in Beatles merch
Fans decked out in Beatles merch. (Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

When the plane touched down at 1:20 p.m., the masses were chanting, “We want Bea­tles!” and singing songs, like “She Loves You.”

Looking out the windows from their Pan Am flight, Mc­Cartney, 21; Starr, 23; Harrison, 20; and Lennon, 23, couldn’t believe the reception they were getting.

Fans trying to get a glimpse of the Fab Four
Fans trying to get a glimpse of the Fab Four. (Hal Mathewson/N.Y. Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

“Who is this for?” McCartney wondered. “On a scale of one to 10, that was about a hundred in terms of the shock of it.” Harrison said, “Seeing thousands of kids there to meet us made us realize just how popular we were there.”

Beatles fans are restrained by police at Kennedy Airport
At JFK airport. (Tom Gallagher/N.Y. Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

The band members, manager Brian Epstein, press agent Brian Sommerville and Beatle wife Cynthia Lennon made their way inside where there was a packed airport press conference. The media was amped up too; Sommerville resorted to telling reporters to “please shut up” so they could start. Their memorable press conference set the tone for their U.S. trip. Dressed in their matching suits, they were so full of personality — and jokes.

“At the airport press conference, we found that the American reporters were obsessed with our hair,” McCartney wrote in a 2023 essay for the Atlantic in which he shared his personal photos of the trip. “They asked if we were going to get haircuts. George replied that he’d had one the day before. That still makes me smile. It was just perfect, because once they saw that we weren’t going to be scared of them, they loved throwing their questions at us, and we would bat them right back. It became a fun little game.”

The Beatles face the media
The Beatles face the media, Feb. 7, 1964. (Charles Tasnadi/AP)

And while they had a full VIP welcome, it didn’t remove the burden of having to collect their own luggage inside.

The Beatles and manger Brian Epstein waiting for their luggage after arriving in New York, USA for their first tour of America; left to right: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon. 7 February 1964. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
The Beatles and manger Brian Epstein waiting for their luggage after arriving in New York. (Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Each Beatle had their own limo waiting, taking them from JFK — which had recently been renamed for the president who had been assassinated months before — to the Plaza Hotel where they decamped to the presidential suites on the 12th floor.

New York City police restrain young Beatles fans
Outside the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan that day. (AP)

Outside, fans lined the streets around the clock with at least 50 police officers assigned to crowd control.

Police man the barricades outside New York’s Plaza Hotel
At the barricades. (AP)

A limo driver had to climb over his car to get in because fans were surrounding it. Quickly it was clear the band members would have to sneak in and out of the hotel through a tunnel.

The Beatles' limo driver climbs over the top of his car to get in. It took nine police officers to clear a path for the car to leave
The Beatles' limo driver climbs over the top of his car to get in. It took nine police officers to clear a path for the car to leave. (Eddie Adams/AP)

A doorman at the hotel, Joseph Szorentini, told the NewYork Times: "I think it was the wildest thing that ever happened at the Plaza." He had worked there for 46 years.

Beatles fans
Beatlemania. (Arthur Buckley/N.Y. Daily News archive via Getty Images)

They did do at least some sightseeing, including visiting Central Park (future home of Lennon memorial Strawberry Fields) and had photoshoots, but fans followed their every move. Bruce Morrow, aka DJ Cousin Brucie, recalled watching fans fling themselves at a cigarette butt McCartney tossed, saying, "Two kids came up with the cigarette, smiling and bleeding.”

Beatles fans
Fans outside the Plaza Hotel. (Judd Mehlman/N.Y. Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

The fandom was real — some even rocked mop top wigs so the British band felt at home in the Big Apple.

Two American fans trying out their Beatle-style wigs
Two fans wearing Beatle-style wigs. (Keystone/Getty Images)

On Feb. 9, they did what they came to the U.S. for — to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. There were over 50,000 ticket requests for the 728-seat studio and those that were there screamed through it. It was a hit: More than 73 million viewers tuned in to watch their live TV debut, long considered a pop culture milestone. Sullivan booked the band for two more appearances during their visit.

The Beatles had their first official U.S. concert at the Coliseum in Washington D.C. on Feb. 11. They returned to New York and had back-to-back performances at Carnegie Hall on Feb. 12. They also made a quick trip to Miami Beach, Fla.

Everywhere the Beatles went, fans followed
Everywhere the Beatles went, fans followed. (John Duprey/N.Y. Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

When the Fab Four returned to England on Feb. 22, fans were back at the airport having tearful goodbyes and counting down the days until they returned. And they did — that summer, as the so-called British Invasion was in full effect.

Beatlemaniacs
Beatlemaniacs returned to JFK for a sendoff on Feb. 22. (Hal Mathewson/N.Y. Daily News archive via Getty Images)