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How the Beatles Took America: Photos of the Historic 1964 Invasion

A closer look at Rolling Stone's cover story tracing the biggest explosion rock has ever seen
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The Beatles
Bill Ray/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

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Famous Flight

Fifty years ago, the Fab Four landed in a country mourning the death of John F. Kennedy – facing media disdain and a record label that barely understood them. Rolling Stone's cover story told the true tale of the biggest explosoin rock has ever seen.

As the Beatles disembarked from their flight to America, McCartney glimpsed the tumult and asked, "Who is this for?" The Beatles stopped on the plane's stairway and took in the sight – 4,000 exhilarated young people, waving jubilantly, amassed behind plate-glass windows, hanging over airport terminal balconies, clustered atop buildings, holding large signs that welcomed the band, as policemen formed lines to hold back the surging crowd. Tom Wolfe – who was covering the Beatles' arrival for the New York Herald Tribune – reported that "some of the girls tried to throw themselves over a retaining wall."

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