Guinness World Records - Officially Amazing

The Beatles US TV debut 50th anniversary: Top ten Fab Four records

 
 
 
 
 
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Picture: Alamy

On February 9, 1964, The Beatles made their iconic US television debut, an appearance that would mark the start of their ascent to superstardom as well as signalling the beginning of the youth culture explosion that was to define the decade.

The Fab Four from Liverpool’s performance on CBS’s Ed Sullivan Show scored an audience of 73m viewers – an incredible 60 per cent of the US population - instantly securing their status as household names.

During the show the band played five songs (All My Loving, Till There Was You, She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There and I Want To Hold Your Hand) although those in the studio would have been hard pressed to tell what was actually being performed, such was the loudness of the excited screams from the watching teenagers in the audience.

Fifty years later on, we take a look at the record-breaking repercussions of the historic show.

It didn’t take long for the hype surrounding the above performance to translated into stratospheric record sales for The Beatles, with the band’s next single Can't Buy Me Love notching up 2.7 million pre orders (.7 million in the USA and 1 million in the UK ) before it was even released on 21 March 1964, setting a record for greatest advance sales for a single.

A month later and John, Paul, George and Ringo’s dominance of the pop charts was total.

On April 4, the band held the top five positions on the Hot 100 and had a further twelve titles elsewhere on the chart, setting a record for most positions held on US singles charts simultaneously. They also held the top two positions on the US album chart, and to cap it all, also had the distinction of having two songs about them ('We Love You Beatles' by The Carefrees and 'A Letter To The Beatles' by The Four Preps) in the Hot 100.

In little more than six years, between their debut on US TV screens and the band’s eventual split in 1970, The Beatles topped the Billboard Hot 100 a record 20 times, including six chart-toppers in 1964 and four in 1965, setting a record for most No.1 singles on the US chart. The band’s final No.1 was “The Long and Winding Road” in June 1970.

The only artist to come close to leveling the band’s record is Mariah Carey who has notched up 18 separate chart toppers.

The Beatles’ all-time global sales have been estimated at more than 1 billion discs and tapes, with around 177 million sales in the USA alone, earning them the Guinness World Records title for best selling group. By comparison, Elvis Presley, arguably the group’s biggest influence and the best-selling solo artist of all time, is some way back with 1 billion sales worldwide (129.5 million in the USA).

On 31 January 1981 in the aftermath of John Lennon's tragic death a few weeks earlier, the band set a new record for most albums on US chart – simultaneously. Seven of the band’s albums appeared on the US Top 200 at the same time (Beatles 1967 - 1970, Beatles 1962 - 1966, White Album, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, Rubber Soul, Abbey Road and Love Songs).

Incredibly, six of Lennon's solo albums were also on the chart that week including the No.1 Double Fantasy. The Monkees and U2 would both go on to match the record in 1987.

The Fab Four’s iconic status has ensured that many music fans collect memorabilia related to the group. Arguably the most prestigious of Beatles artifacts is the Steinway Model Z upright, once owned by John Lennon.

The piano, seen in video footage recorded during the sessions for Lennon¹s Imagine solo LP, and on which he wrote the album's famous title song, was sold to singer George Michael in 2000 for an eye-watering £1.45 million (then $2.1 million), making it the most expensive piano sold at auction.

However the world record for most expensive pop memorabilia was set in June 1985 when Lennon's 1965 Phantom V Rolls Royce was bought for $2,229,000 (£1,702,827) by Jim Pattison, (Chairman and CEO of the Jim Pattison Group, the current owner of Guinness World Records) following an auction at Sotheby's in New York.

Showing that the band’s appeal was as strong as ever in the 21st century, in 2000, a new Beatles compilation album entitled simply ‘1’ featuring the band’s UK and US number 1’s became the biggest selling album of the decade in the States.

In 2005, the compilation was awarded Diamond status after selling 10 million copies in the US, making them the only act to have received six of these awards.

In no small part down to 1’s success, in 2001, Forbes Celebrity 100 list calculated that the band had made £100.49 million the previous year, setting a record for highest annual earnings ever for a band, despite the group splitting up 30 years earlier.

The band’s record-breaking carries on apace in some unlikely situations. In 2008, "Across the Universe", became the first song to be beamed into deep space. NASA sent the song, at a speed of 300,000 km/sec (186,000 miles/sec), to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA’s founding and the 40th anniversary of the song being recorded.

Meanwhile, the Wii version of the Fab Four themed computer game, The Beatles: Rock Band, which allows you and four friends to simulate the performance of the group on their most famous songs, holds the record for best-selling band-specific videogame after selling 1,668,234 copies worldwide.

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