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Beatlemania: No Passing Fad

Published: August 20, 2012

The Beatles

The Beatles
Photo by John Zimmerman
March 21, 1964

There was no place to escape The Beatles in the early ’60s. Radio stations across the country were continually playing “She Loves You” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” They were also airing the swarm of criticism aroused by these four young musicians. Everyone, it seemed, had an opinion about The Beatles.

A February 1964 editorial in The New York World-Telegram described their music as “a haunting combination of rock ‘n’ roll, the shimmy, a hungry cat riot, and Fidel Castro on a harangue.”

From Newsweek: “Musically they are a near-disaster: guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat that does away with secondary rhythms, harmony, and melody. Their lyrics (punctuated by nutty shouts of ‘yeah, yeah, yeah!’) are a catastrophe, a preposterous farrago of Valentine-card romantic sentiments.”

Even the mythical James Bond weighed in, telling a love interest in one of his movies, “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done. Such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above a temperature of 38 degrees Farenheit. That’s as bad as listening to The Beatles without earmuffs.”

But what was The Saturday Evening Post saying about The Beatles? Read the cover story, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Music’s Gold Bugs: The Beatles,” by Alfred G. Aronowitz from March 21, 1964.

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  • The editors of the POST wisely swooped on the Beatles shortly after their appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’. This is a great example of some of the wonderful features the magazine did in the ’60s, including this terrific cover. The magazine also did another great feature on the Beatles later in 1964, as well as a couple more later in the decade.

    The POST was very cutting-edge in the Sixties on popular musical artists, outdoing its two main rivals, LIFE and Look magazine. I’m very pleased to see covers and features from this decade hightlighted often on this website. POST issues from this decade have long gone unappreciated, partly I suppose because of the break (in tradition)from the many decades worth of the artistic covers that preceeded them. I think this era can finally be appreciated for itself, without (or at least less) comparison to previous eras. It’s all part of the tapestry of The Saturday Evening Post that’s been evolving since it began, and will continue to do so.