CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Beatles once declared they would not tour in America until they had a No. 1 song there. This was a joke, and no one, including The Beatles themselves, took it seriously.
But, lo and behold, thanks to word of mouth by U.S. teenagers, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" hit No. 1 one in America on Jan. 17, 1964.
The Beatles landed in the United States on Feb. 7, 1964. None of them expected the reception they got, which included 5,000 screaming fans showing up at the airport, and 73.7 million viewers -- approximately 38 percent of the U.S. population at the time -- tuning in to watch them on "The Ed Sullivan Show" two days later.
John and Paul
The history of The Beatles, however, began long before their record-breaking career from 1963-1970. The event that really started the band came on July 6, 1957, the day John Lennon met Paul McCartney in their hometown of Liverpool, England.
John was the 16-year-old front man of The Quarrymen, and 15-year-old Paul had come to the band's concert, hoping to meet girls. Paul was impressed by the way that John stood on the stage, played The Del-Vikings' "Come Go With Me" and made up his own lyrics.
After the show, John heard Paul play "Twenty Flight Rock" by Eddie Cochran. John was impressed by how well Paul played the guitar and that he knew all the lyrics.
John knew if he asked Paul to be in his band, he might not be the best member anymore. He decided, however, to improve his band overall, and a few weeks later, asked a friend to ask Paul to join the band. The two, who shared a love of rock and roll music, art and literature, began writing songs together, starting what many consider the best songwriting duo of all-time.
Adding new members
In early 1958, Paul asked John if his friend, George Harrison, could join the band. Initially, the 17-year-old John said he didn't want a 14-year-old in his band, but he changed his mind when he heard George play.
In 1959, the group almost broke up due to lack of public interest. Drummer Colin Hanton quit, making it harder for the band to get gigs.
At the end of 1959, John's best friend from art school, Stuart Sutcliffe, was paid 65 pounds for a painting. John convinced Stu to buy a bass guitar with the money, as Paul was not playing bass at this point.
Stu joined the group, then known as the Silver Beetles, despite the fact that he couldn't play bass. The band was offered a job to play a nine-day tour of Scotland, backing pop singer Johnny Gentle, which did not go well.