ON THE TURNTABLE: February 15,1964 -“Meet The Beatles” is the #1 album in the US- Billboard

According to Billboard Magazine, February 15, 1964, The Beatles have the #1 album and #1 single on the US charts. This particular period in BEATLES HISTORY is virtually a goldmine for record collectors. Singles and albums were available on different labels. With the advent of The Beatles performance on Sullivan and all the hoopla surrounding that event, in a short period of time I’d accumulated many BEATLES’ 45s, some were issued by Swan Records, Tollie Records, EMI Records, Capitol Records, MGM Records, ATCO Records and Vee-Jay Records.This got me thinking as to why so many BEATLE records were released at the same moment in time and why on different labels (a magical moment in record collecting).

During most of 1963 while THE BEATLES were having hit after hit in the UK, CAPITOL (US) RECORDS (a subsidiary of EMI/PARLOPHONE the British record company which signed THE BEATLES) continually rejected to release stateside the Beatles singles to which they were offered. Another company, VEE-JAY RECORDS, inadvertently picked up the “right of first refusal” to The Beatles catelogue. And that’s how it begun…

During 1963, The BEATLES had 3 releases in “the colonies”
PLEASE PLEASE ME- February 1963(VEEJAY RECORDS)-a #1 hit in the UK.
FROM ME TO YOU-May 1963(VEEJAY RECORDS)-#1 in the UK, and a cover version by Del Shannon (June 63)
SHE LOVES YOU-September 1963(SWAN RECORDS)which had limited if any US airplay was a #1 hit in the UK.

Almost one full year after the first US 45 release “Please Please Me” bombed, BILLBOARD proclaims “Meet The Beatles” the Number 1 Album in the US. “Meet The Beatles” with its iconic cover was released on January 20,1964, just 20 days prior to their ED SULLIVAN performance (Feb 9th). However, this their first album for CAPITOL RECORDS was actually THE BEATLES second US release.And to confuse matters that iconic photo is the cover of the British album “With The Beatles”, their 2nd UK album.

All this is a bit confusing when researched, as The Beatles’ CAPITOL RECORDS releases were quite different from the actual EMI/Parlophone British releases. US records limit sides to 12 songs AND prefer the hit to be included. So, we find different songs, sequences of songs, cover art, album names, etc, which makes this all the merrier for a record collector. Fortunately,The Beatles took control (another law suit) of this mixing and matching prior to the release of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

To set the record (pun intended) straight the first BEATLES album to be released in the US was “Introducing…THE BEATLES” on VeeJay Records beating(LOL) ”Meet The Beatles” by ten days . “Introducing… The Beatles” on VeeJay Records was scheduled for a July (1963) release but the company ran into money problems which later was a factor in their demise as well as losing their “Right of first refusal” option. To find more about what happened to VEE-JAY which had a goldmine at their feet (the right of first refusal of Beatles records) I checked out a copy of (February 15,1964) BILLBOARD, “U.S. ROCKS & REELS FROM BEATLES’ INVASION. There I found a short piece by Nick Biro detailing a legal action taking place (Feb 5,1964) in Chicago Appellate Court whereby Capitol Records was seeking a further injunction from VEE-JAY records rights to sell “Beatle products”. VeeJay Records, an independent record company based in Chicago, needed to post a $30,000 bond which they did.

The background info I dug up concluded (on my part) that Capitol Records(US) continually rejecting BEATLES singles pissed off the head of the mother company EMI so much so that their CEO in a personal visit to Los Angeles ordered (Nov 63) their US subsidiary CAPITOL to “commence promoting and releasing Beatles records” (an album and singles) immediately.EMI had 35 songs, mostly hits, and with a new UK album “With The Beatles” ready to go. VEE-JAY Records owned the rights to 14 other songs(8 Lennon-McCartney originals) which actually was the first EMI British album “Please, Please Me”. If and when THE (Capitol)BEATLES ads hit Vee-Jay was sitting on a possible huge pile of money.

Meanwhile, a separate US indie company SWAN RECORDS picked up the option on another song and(September 63) released “She Loves You” which sold poorly and did not chart.(Note: Dick Clark was a part owner of SWAN and tried the record out on “American Bandstand-Rate a Record segment”. It received a 71%-poor, and the kids “laughed” at the band photo. Clark was not impressed with the tune.“I figured these guys were going nowhere.”  But as Clark would later acknowledge, “We all found out the truth soon enough.”

December of 63, Brian Epstein called SWAN RECORDS wanting to know how “She Loves You” which a huge hit in Britain, was doing in America. They replied that the record was “a stiff.”  Epstein informed the company that the Beatles were going to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. Bernie Binnick, the CEO of SWAN was unimpressed with this info telling Epstein he “blew it,” saying he should have had the Beatles appear on American Bandstand rather than The Ed Sullivan Show, suggesting that Clark’s show was more popular. (Payola strikes again-LOL).

January 3, 1964-America finally sees THE BEATLES performing “She Loves You” via a live clip shown on the JACK PAAR SHOW, a Friday night variety show. Paar marveled at how “Beatlemania” was capturing the youthful British audience. The following Monday, “She Loves You” sales exploded.So much so that a re-issued version was pressed to meet the demand. By March 21,1964 “She Loves You” is the #1 record in the land, selling over 1 million copies. Great news for SWAN which now had a “temporary” windfall of cash. Unfortunetly, SWAN lost its option on future BEATLES records as their contract stipulated SWAN had to sell 50,000 copies of that single in their first 1963 offering, which it did not.

VEE-JAY Records on the other hand,was the most successful black-run label before Motown, and one of the most important record companies of the period. When VeeJay pursued (1962) EMI artist Frank Ifield for his hit “I Remember You,” they “had to agreed” to take the unknown Beatles along as part of the deal. So Vee-Jay gets 14 Beatles recordings, eight which are original tunes. These 14 tunes are aka the British “Please,Please Me” album which included “I Saw Her Standing There”,”Misery”,”Anna”,”Chains”,”Boys”, “Ask Me Why”,”Please Please Me”, “Love Me Do”, “P.S. I Love You”, “Baby, It’s You”, “Do You Want To Know A Secret”, “A Taste of Honey”, “There’s A Place”, and “Twist and Shout”.

As stated before most US album generally were released having 12 songs so to conform to this unwritten standard the VEE-JAY album dropped “Ask Me Why” and “Please Please Me” for their album release, later selling those as singles. “Love Me Do” was also issued as a single by the VEEJAY subsidiary TOLLIE RECORDS. This event did not go unnoticed by Capitol. The movement of songs is where VEE-JAY later ran afoul with the courts.When confronted,VEE-JAY quickly revised a second pressing (re-issue January 27,1964) to include “Ask Me Why” and “Please Please Me”. Seems “PS I Love You” and “Love Me Do” on the original VeeJay release were published by Beechwood Music, a subsidiary of Capitol Records and should have been deleted or a royalty paid,neither which happened.
(Also, of note to collectors the VeeJay Records “I Saw Her Standing There” starts at “four”, missing the “One, two, three” that Paul counted in. The company thought the count in was to be deleted.)

Transglobal,an EMI subsidiary, cancels as “null and void” the VEE-JAY contract as of August 8,1963 due to lack of payment of royalties,thereby relinquishing all rights back to CAPITOL Records. However, VEE-JAY had the original pressing stored for the past few months. Also,VEE-JAY’s contract for “She Loves You” would expire October 64 when all rights would be retained by Capitol. Shipments sent and await court to decide.

Capitol Records, Inc. v. Vee Jay Records, Inc., 197 N.E.2d 503 (Ill. App. Ct. 1964)
Appellate Court of Illinois
Filed: March 19th, 1964
Precedential Status: Precedential
Citations: 197 N.E.2d 503, 47 Ill. App. 2d 468
Docket Number: Gen. No. 49,470
Judges: Bryant

…Although to date there has never been any kind of hearing as to the merits it is important to note that both Capitol Records and Vee Jay Records claim that each has a superior right to manufacture and sell “Beatles” records in the United States. Although 472 prior to this suit there was only one duplication in recordings between the parties, each party alleges that it has expended considerable funds to promote the “Beatles” in the United States and that the other party is unfairly reaping the benefits of these expenditures. The rights of Vee Jay Records stem from a contract entered into in January, 1963, allowing it an exclusive license to manufacture and sell “Beatles” recordings in the United States under certain conditions for five years. This contract was entered into with Transglobal which in turn secured its rights from EMI. There are allegations that the Vee Jay contract was terminated because of failure to make statements of sales and failure to pay royalties. There are certain rights to four recordings which Vee Jay may possess following termination, but there are allegations that these rights, if they exist, do not extend to thirteen other songs which presently appear on an LP being marketed by Vee Jay.[*] Capitol, on the other hand, secured its rights directly from EMI following the alleged termination of Vee Jay’s contract rights.

[**] The four recordings to which Vee Jay Records may have a right to continue producing after termination until February, 1964, at least without having had a construction of the contract, are: “Please, Please Me,” “Ask Me Why,” “From Me to You,” and “Thank You, Girl.” The main controversy centers around Vee Jay’s LP, “Introducing the Beatles” which Capitol alleges was not produced at all until just prior to the present action and which appears to be selling in competition with or as substitution for Capitol’s LP “Meet the Beatles.”

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Beatles in America, 1963-1964,”
PopHistoryDig.com, September 20, 2009.
January 1963
George Martin of EMI in London sends a copy of “Please Please Me” to U.S. subsidiary Capitol Records, urging executives there to distribute Beatles’ songs in the U.S. They decline, saying: “We don’t think the Beatles will do anything in this market.”  Lesser known labels then begin picking up Beatles’1963 songs for U.S. release.
Vee-Jay single of Beatles’ “Please Please Me,” in Feb 1963, distinguished by ‘Beattles’ mis-spelling, later corrected.
25 Jan 1963
Vee-Jay record label of Chicago obtains a contract to release limited number of Beatles records in the U.S. for a limited time period.
25 Feb 1963
“Please Please Me”/ “Ask Me Why” released as single on Vee-Jay label.  The song is played on Chicago’s WLS radio station where it reaches No. 35 on WLS music survey in March, but does not chart nationally; not on Billboard.
27 May 1963
“From Me To You” / “Thank You Girl” released as a single by Vee-Jay, but is barely visible; No. 116 on August Billboard chart, drops off thereafter.
16 Sept 1963
“She Loves You” / “I’ll Get You” released in U.S. by Swan Records, a Philadelphia label, but does not chart on Billboard.
31 Oct 1963
American TV variety show host, Ed Sullivan, traveling to London, has his arrival delayed at London Heathrow Airport by a screaming crowd of teens welcoming the Beatles home from a tour of Sweden.  Sullivan has his first thoughts of booking these rising British music stars with strange haircuts — perhaps as novelty act.
11-12 Nov 1963
Beatles manager Brian Epstein travels to New York and persuades Ed Sullivan to book the Beatles for an unprecedented three consecutive appearances on Sullivan’s much-watched Sunday evening variety show — February 9th, 16th and 23rd, 1964.  CBS-TV gets one year’s exclusive rights to the Beatles’ U.S. television appearances.
15 Nov 1963
Time magazine take notice of the “Beatlemania” craze sweeping England and the Beatles’ command performance for British royalty in London.
16 Nov1963
CBS News bureau London — at the suggestion of Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein — sends a news crew to the British seaside resort of Bournemouth where they film a Beatles concert, thousands of screaming fans, and a few Beatles’ comments on camera.  This film clip is later sent to New York.
Mid-late Nov 1963
Brian Epstein phones Capitol Records president Alan Livingston over label’s refusal to distribute Beatles songs in America.  Epstein urges Livingston to listen to the U.K. single, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” while mentioning the Beatles’ upcoming 1964 Ed Sullivan Show appearances as a big opportunity for Capitol.  Livingston later agrees to spend $40,000 for Beatles promotion, equal to about $250,000 in today’s money.
18 Nov 1963
NBC’s evening news program, The Huntley-Brinkley Report, airs a four-minute segment on the Beatles.
22 Nov 1963
U.K. album, With The Beatles, is released in the U.K., rising to No. 1 on the British album charts and remaining there for 21 weeks.  With The Beatles becomes the Beatles’ first million-selling album in Britain, and the second album of any kind in Britain to sell one million copies, the first being the South Pacific soundtrack.
22 Nov 1963
The “CBS Morning News With Mike Wallace” runs a story on the Beatles for the network’s morning news show.  CBS planned to repeat the segment that evening on Walter Cronkite’s newscast.  However, that day, in mid afternoon, Walter Cronkite was breaking the tragic news to a shocked nation that their President, John F. Kennedy, had been shot and killed while visiting Dallas, Texas.
29 Nov 1963
The Beatles’ single “I Want To Hold Your Hand” is released in the U.K. and immediately hits No. 1 on the British pop charts.
29 Nov 1963
Radio station KIOA in Des Moines, Iowa begins playing “I Saw Her Standing There” from a Drake University student’s copy of Beatle’s U.K. album, Please Please Me, and a few days later, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” from a U.K. Beatles’ single  (see sidebar story below).
1 Dec 1963
The New York Times Sunday Magazine, runs a story on “Beatlemania” in the U.K.
4 Dec 1963
Capitol Records issues a press release announcing that it will begin selling the Beatles’ first U.S. 45 rpm single, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” on Monday, January 13th, 1964.
10 Dec 1963
A four-minute CBS film segment on The Beatles that had been pre-empted by the JFK tragedy is aired on Walter Cronkite’s  CBS Evening News. 
17 Dec 1963
Radio disc jockey Carroll James at Washington. D.C. station WWDC, plays rare U.K. copy of  “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on the radio after 15-year-old girl from Silver Spring, MD wrote to him  requesting Beatles music after seeing the CBS-news segment.  James arranged to have an airline stewardess buy a U.K. copy of the Beatles’ latest single in London.  Listeners phone in repeatedly to request the song.
18-19 Dec 1963
Capitol Records threatens to sue WWDC to stop playing song, but then reverses itself and decides to rush-release “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” previously scheduled for  January 13, 1964.  Christmas leave is canceled at Capitol Records, as pressing plants and staff gear up for rush release.
23 Dec 1963
Capitol Records issues a memo to its sales people and regional managers across the country, outlining an extensive “Beatles Campaign” using various promotional items — from major music magazine trade ads and a fake tabloid Beatles newspaper (reprinted in the thousands), to Beatle buttons, Beatle stickers, Beatle wigs, and a battery-powered, “Beatles-in-motion,” bobble-head-like, window display for music stores.
26 Dec 1963
Capitol Records begins distributing “I Want To Hold Your Hand” to radio stations in major U.S. cities where it is played regularly.  With teens home for Christmas-New Years break, radios get full-time use, and the record begins selling like crazy.  In New York City, 10,000 copies are sold every hour.  In the first three days, 250,000 copies are  sold.  Capitol was so overloaded it contracted Columbia Records and RCA to help with the pressings.
28 Dec 1963
The New Yorker magazine publishes a Brian Epstein interview; regarded as first serious article in U.S. about the Beatles and their manager.
29 Dec 1963
New York city radio station WMCA joins others  broadcasting “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”  Back in London, meanwhile, Sunday Times critic Richard Buckle praises the Beatles as the greatest composers since Beethoven.
30 Dec 1963
A two-page ad from Capitol Records pitching the Beatles’ recordings runs in Billboard and Cash Box music industry magazines.  Bulk reprints of these ads have already been distributed to Capitol’s sales agents for use with radio stations and in enlarged, easel-scale size for use in music store displays across the country.
3 Jan 1964
Jack Paar, host of the late night U.S. TV talk show, “The Jack Paar Show,” airs a filmed Beatles’ performance of “She Loves You” from England.  It is the first complete Beatles song shown on American TV, and for many in America, the first time they see The Beatles.
10 Jan 1964
Vee-Jay Records releases the first Beatles album in the U.S., Introducing…The Beatles.  Legal and business issues plague the album, but by late fall, it would sell more than 1.3 million copies.
10 Jan 1964
Two weeks after the Capitol Records release of “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” sales hit 1 million copies — a staggering number at that time for an unknown music group from overseas.
mid-Jan 1964
Vee-Jay Records’ issues special record sleeves for promoting “Please Please Me” to radio DJs,  noting Beatles’ clip on Jack Paar’s show, upcoming Ed Sullivan Show dates, and national news coverage in Time, Life & Newsweek magazines.
17 Jan 1964
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles is the No. 1 single in America.
20 Jan 1964
Capitol Records issues Meet the Beatles, the Beatles’ first Capitol album in the U.S.
20 Jan 1964
To promote the Meet The Beatles album and their upcoming first American visit, Capitol Records distributes pre-recorded interview with the Beatles to American radio stations.
29 Jan 1964
Capitol Records announced in a press releases, that Meet the Beatles had already sold 400,000 copies by January 27th.
30 Jan 1964
Vee-Jay Records releases, for the second time, the single “Please Please Me” / “From Me to You,”  entering the Billboard chart at No. 69.  It would later reach No. 3, and Vee-Jay would sell at least 1.1 million copies.
7 Feb 1964
At about 1:20 p.m. the Beatles arrive at Kennedy International Airport in New York where they are greeted by 3,000 screaming teenagers, 200 reporters and photographers, and more than 100 New York police officers.  At a televised press conference the Beatles come off as witty, charming and playful.
9 Feb 1964
Elvis Presley sends The Beatles a telegram wishing them well in their upcoming Ed Sullivan Show appearance later that evening.
9 Feb 1964
Beatles perform live on The Ed Sullivan Show, reaching a record-breaking audience of 73 million, or according to A.C. Nielsen, 23.2 million households.  One estimate at 40% of population.  They perform five songs: “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”
31 Mar 1964
The Beatles hold the top five slots on Billboard: (1) Can’t Buy Me Love, (2) Twist and Shout, (3) She Loves You, (4) I Want To Hold Your Hand (5) Please Please Me — a musical first.
10 Apr 1964
The Beatles’ Second Album is released by Capitol Records, which replaces
the Beatles first Capitol album, Meet The Beatles, at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart from May 5th to June 2nd.
11 Apr 1964
The Beatles hold 14 slots on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
14 Apr 1964
The Beatles’ Second Album reaches $1 million in sales by this date.

Top Five Albums:Feb 15,1964

1Meet The Beatles-The Beatles

2 The Singing Nun

3 In The Wind-Peter,Paul and Mary

4 Little Deuce Coupe-The Beach Boys

5 West Side Story_Soundtrack


22 Introducing…The Beatles

April 5,1964 Top Singles-BILLBOARD Magazine

1: Can’t Buy Me Love (jumped 27 spots):THE BEATLES

2: Twist And Shout:THE BEATLES

3:She Loves You:THE BEATLES

4:I Want To Hold Your Hand:THE BEATLES

5:Please Please Me:THE BEATLES

April 11,1964 BILLBOARD Magazine
1.      Can’t Buy Me Love
2.      Twist & Shout
4.      She Loves You
7.      I Want To Hold Your Hand
9.      Please Please Me
14.    …Want to Know a Secret
38.    …Saw Her Standing There
48.    You Can’t Do That
50.    All My Loving
52.    From Me To You
61.    Thank You Girl
74.    There’s A Place
78.    Roll Over Beethoven
81.    Love Me Do

-The first Vee-Jay release “Introducing The Beatles” with “Love Me Do” on side one
-The second Vee-Jay with the changed sequences
-MGM 45 “My Bonnie/When The Saints Go Marching In
-TOLLIE 45 “Love Me Do” (american version features Alan White on drums. There are 3 versions of this song with three different drummers, Pete Best, Ringo Starr, and the one most heard with Alan White)
-ATCO 45 “Ain’t She Sweet”
-all early 45 picture sleeves
The Dream items for most collectors

1: The first issue VEE-JAY single of “Please Please Me” with the mis-spelling of the band as “The Beattles”

2: First issue (Sept 63) SWAN Records “She Loves You”