The Beatles

The Beatles • London Airport, London, UK • February 5, 1964


The Beatles, followed by their manager, Brian Epstein, arrive at London Airport (renamed Heathrow in 1966) from Paris–Le Bourget Airport following a three-week residency at Paris's Olympia Theatre. The group's historic first visit to the United States would commence two days later.


The Story

Following an evening performance at the Olympia on January 25, a telegram from Capitol Records arrived at the George V Hotel informing Epstein and The Beatles that 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' had knocked The Kingsmen's 'Louie Louie' from the No.1 spot on the Cash Box Top 100.

Upon its release, Cash Box described 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' as "an infectious twist-like thumper that could spread like wildfire here." The single entered Billboard's Hot 100 at No.45 on January 18 and began a seven-week run at No.1 on February 1 – only to be replaced at No.1 by The Beatles’ previous UK single, 'She Loves You.'

The British European Airways/Beatles travel bags arose from a licensing agreement arranged by Epstein and the airline, which allowed the group to carry the bags while being photographed in exchange for unlimited travel between Paris and London during the band’s three-week engagement. On February 7, The Beatles traveled with these same bags on their Pan Am flight to New York, where, soon after landing, a Pan Am representative hastily pushed a similar Pan Am bag into John Lennon's hands to upstage and cover his BEA bag.

Photographer unconfirmed / Formerly from the collection of Tony Gale

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