MoCo is Responsible for Beatlemania in the U.S.??? Kind Of

by MCS Staff
On December 17th, 1963, Silver Spring teenager Marsha Albert introduced for the first time on American radio a song written and recorded by The Beatles titled ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Albert, then a 15 year old 9th grader at Sligo Junior High (now Sligo Middle School), has long been credited with jump-starting the phenomenon known as “Beatlemania” in the United States and here’s how the story goes:
On December 10th, 1963, Marsha Albert was watching the ‘CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite’ when she caught a clip from a news segment that featured an interview with The Beatles, who at the time were gaining popularity in England. “It wasn’t so much what I had seen, it’s what I had heard,” Albert recalled. “They had a scene where they played a clip of ‘She Loves You’ and I thought that was a great song.” she said in a 2004 interview with The Washington Post. She decided to write in to Carroll James, the DJ she listened to on WWDC radio, and told him she thought The Beatles would be a hit while asking him to get a hold of one of their records to play on the local airwaves.
According to the WaPo article, two days after James received the letter, on Dec. 17, “the British pressing of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was on James’s turntable, hand-carried from England by a BOAC (now British Airways) flight attendant.” James called Marsha and asked her if she would be able to get to the station by 5pm to introduce the song. She was able to make it in and introduced the song, “Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time on the air in the United States, here are the Beatles singing ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand.’ ” And just like that…Beatlemania made it across the pond to the Unites States.
Beatles historian and author Bruce Spizer stated in 2004, “Marsha Albert’s actions forced a major record company to push up the release date of a debut single from an unknown band during the holiday season, a time when record companies traditionally released no new product.” According to a CBS News article from 2004, “Capitol Records Capitol had passed on releasing earlier Beatles hits, and small independent labels hadn’t had much luck with them, but when James played “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” the WWDC switchboard immediately lit up.” “Capitol had thought to wait for the Beatles’ already-scheduled appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS before releasing “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” However, with the success on WWDC, Capitol decided to press a few thousand early copies for the Washington market but otherwise stick to the Jan. 13 release date.”
The Beatles arrived to the United States on February 7th, 1964, and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show two days later, on February 9th. Two days after that, on February 11th, they came to the D.C. area for a show, and Carroll James and Marsha Albert were there to greet them. While on the air on WWDC with Carroll James, the Beatles said “Thank you, Marsha.” She also got their autographs.



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