Saturday, February 11, 2012

Beatlemania Emerges in U.S.

It was 48 years ago today...

The O Say Can You See blog, run by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, has an interesting post about the Beatles' first concert in America, which took place on February 11, 1964, featuring some the artifacts from the concert in the NMAH collections.

Beatlemania used to be the subject of much head-scratching, and even derision, both in the press and in academia, so I'm glad to see it recognized, here, as a significant moment in history. "Maniacal" audiences existed long before 1964, of course, but the behavior of American Beatles fans was significant as clear evidence for the vast commercial potential of teen culture (see, for example, this great collection of 1964 magazines capitalizing on the Beatles phenomenon) and also, somewhat contrarily, of the grassroots political potential of rock'n'roll, including an empowerment of young women's public expression (see Barbara Ehrenreich, Elizabeth Hess, Gloria Jacobs, "Beatlemania: Girls Just Want to Have Fun").

In the end, it remains an iconic moment of rock'n'roll audiencing.

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