On October 17, 1963, the Beatles were in Abbey Road studios to record “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” a song written by Lennon and McCartney in response to their manager, Brian Epstein, asking them to write something for the American market which they had yet to break into. Of the writing, Lennon told Playboy magazine in 1980: “We wrote a lot of stuff together, one on one, eyeball to eyeball. Like in ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ I remember when we got the chord that made the song. We were in [Paul’s then-girlfriend] Jane Asher’s house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time. And we had, ‘Oh you-u-u/ got that something…’ And Paul hits this chord [E minor] and I turn to him and say, ‘That’s it!’ I said, ‘Do that again!’ In those days, we really used to absolutely write like that—both playing into each other’s noses.”
This was the first song the Beatles recorded on four tracks—as opposed to their usual two-track recording—and it took 17 takes to get down. It was mixed by George Martin on Oct. 21, and released in the U.K. on November 29, knocking “She Loves You” off the top of the charts.
EMI and Epstein finally convinced Capitol Records that the Beatles would be a hit in the U.S., and on Dec. 26, 1963 they released “I Want To Hold Your Hand” with “I Saw Her Standing There” as the B-side. It became the Beatles’ first No. 1 in America, selling 10,000 copies an hour in New York City alone. Capitol Records was forced to farm out pressings of the single to other labels in order to facilitate demand. To seal the deal, the Beatles performed it on their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance on February 9, and again on February 16, 1964.
The song that replaced it at No. 1 was “She Loves You,” marking the first time an artist had succeeded itself at the top spot since Elvis Presley (whose “Love Me Tender” had replaced “Don’t Be Cruel”). Starting at the song’s final week at No. 1 on the American charts, the Beatles had a whopping record of seven No. 1 songs in one year. In order, these were “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Love Me Do,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “I Feel Fine,, and ending with “Eight Days a Week” one year later.
America was officially in love.