UNITED KINGDOM: Released as a single November 29, 1963, the Beatles' fifth single entered the chart at No. 1 a week later and stayed there for six weeks. By January 17, it had sold 1.5 million copies in the United Kingdom alone. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles
UNITED STATES: Released as a single January 13, 1964 (rush-released December 26), it was the group's first U.S. Top 40 hit. Entering the Top 40 January 25, it held the No. 1 position for seven weeks and remained in the Top 40 for fourteen weeks. The single sold better in its first ten days than any previous British single released in the United States. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles and Billboard and The Complete Beatles Chronicle
Capitol Records had refused to release the first several Beatles singles in the United States. In his attempt to convince them this time, Brian Epstein told Capitol that "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was produced specifically with the "American sound" in mind. Capitol finally agreed to release it. Its surprisingly huge success prompted Capitol to spend the unprecendented amount of $50,000 on an advertising blitz to break the group in the United States. The Love You Make : An Insider's Story of the Beatles
The Beatles celebrated their first No. 1 hit record on the U.S. Cashbox chart January 16, 1964, at the George V Hotel in Paris, where they were staying. The group had a celebration dinner with Brian Epstein, George Martin, and others. The Beatles were in Paris for their French debut at the Paris Olympia and to make a recording at EMI's Paris studio. The Complete Beatles Chronicle
GEORGE MARTIN: "This was the first single that had advance orders of over a million. It entered the charts when 'She Loves You' was No. 1 and deposed it (on Saturday December 14). This, of course, led to the American release, which was where the big stuff began." The Beatles Off the Record: Outrageous Opinions & Unrehearsed Interviews
McCARTNEY: "We were in Paris when a telegram came through from Capitol Records saying that 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' had gone number one in America. We just jumped on each other's backs and screamed the whole place down. The cheekiest thing The Beatles ever did was say to our manager that we didn't want to go to America until we were number one. Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, you know, the big British stars, would go to America and be third or fourth on the bill to Frankie Avalon, and then they'd come back and we'd read in interviews that, although they had a wonderful time over there, they never became big hits. We thought, 'Surely the Americans were going to buy their records,' but what they proved in the end was that they were little European acts who got a bit too out of their depths." The Beatles Off the Record: Outrageous Opinions & Unrehearsed Interviews
DEREK TAYLOR: "When the telegram came through, 'Cashbox Number 1 - It's happened', it really took a lot of reading. The Beatles were just hopping around with delight." The Beatles Off the Record: Outrageous Opinions & Unrehearsed Interviews
DEZO HOFFMANN: "The Beatles couldn't speak. Not even John Lennon! They just sat on the floor like kittens at Brian's feet. Brian was even photographed with a chamber pot on his head." The Beatles Off the Record: Outrageous Opinions & Unrehearsed Interviews
DEREK TAYLOR: "They were going to America anyway, as they had been booked on The Ed Sullivan Show for three shows at a really good rate. He had got their fares paid as well as their hotels." The Beatles Off the Record: Outrageous Opinions & Unrehearsed Interviews
LENNON: "In America, it just seemed ridiculous the idea of having a hit record over there. It was something that you could never do. That's what I thought. But then, I realised that it's just the same as in England, that kids everywhere go for all the same stuff, and seeing that we had done it in England and all, there's no reason why we couldn't do it in America." The Beatles Off the Record: Outrageous Opinions & Unrehearsed Interviews
AUTHORSHIP Lennon (.5) and McCartney (.5)
LENNON: "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 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 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." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono
McCARTNEY: " 'Eye to eyeball' is a very good description of it. That's exactly how it was. 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' was very co-written. It was our big number one; the one that would eventually break us in America." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
McCARTNEY: "The little music room with all the music stands became my base. So instead of John coming to Forthlin ROad, that music room was now my equivalent because it was the most get-away-from-it room. We always tried to find a place to get away from it all, plus it had a piano." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
October 17, 1963, at Abbey Road
This was the first Beatles recording for which four-track recording equipment was used. The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970
McCARTNEY: bass, lead vocal
LENNON: rhythm guitar, lead vocal
HARRISON: lead guitar
This song was part of the Beatles' repertoire for concerts in 1963 and 1964.
EMI in Germany insisted that the Beatles record German versions of their songs for sales there. The German rendition of this song, "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand," was recorded January 29, 1964, at the Pathe Marconi studio in Paris.
COMMENTS BY BEATLES
This song was of special and lasting interest to Lennon; the melody stayed with him. Even seven years after he and Paul had written the tune, Lennon entertained the possibility of recording it again. December 1970, Lennon Remembers: The Full Rolling Stone Interviews from 1970
COMMENTS BY OTHERS
Poet Allen Ginsberg had a revelation of sorts when he first heard "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in a New York City nightclub. He was so carried away by the Beatles' music and its revolutionary style that he got up and danced - Ginsberg had never before danced in public. RS (February 16, 1984)
On August 24, 1964, less than an hour after going on stage at the Forest Hils Tennis Stadium, the Beatles arrived back at the Delmonico hotel. Bob Dylan was driven down from Woodstock by his roadie, picking up Al Aronowitz on the way. In the hotel lobby, police barred their way until Mal Evans came down and the three were quickly ushered into the main louge. Dylan was offered some purple hearts, the little blue Drinamyl pills which kept virtually every British rock group going through the sixties when their bodies told them they should be sleeping. Dylan declined and suggested they smoke some grass instead. Brian Epstein explained with some embarrassment that they had never smoked pot before.
"But what about your song, the one about getting high?" asked Dylan. "'And when I touch you, I get high, I get high . . .'"
The Liverpool accent had rendered the words of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" unintelligible to Dylan. "It goes, 'I can't hide, I can't hide . . .'" explained John.
LENNON: "When we met Dylan, he told me he thought we were singing, 'I get high, I get high,' instead of 'I can't hide, I can't hide.' The Beatles Off the Record: Outrageous Opinions & Unrehearsed Interviews
Singer Teddy Pendergrass was a junior high school student when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" brought the Beatles into the black community. As a musician, Pendergrass looked beyond the group's media trademarks - the hair and style of dress - and heard the originality in their music. He credits the Beatles with inspiring his own musical development and independent growth as a performer. RS (February 16, 1984)
MURRAY THE K: "My Christmas show came along. I did it and then decided to go to Florida for my vacation. While I was in Florida, from nothing at all to suddenly every time you put on the radio, every other record was 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'. I remember saying, 'Gee, that's The Beatles, only on this record they sound like an English version of The Everly Brothers.' It was that kind of sound. While I was in Florida I received an urgent call from my station manager in New York at WINS telling me that 'The Beatles are coming!' 'Fine,' I said. 'Get an exterminator.' He said, 'You don't understand, man. All the television and newspaper people will be there covering their arrival and we're going to be the only radio station who will be covering it live. So we want you back here.' 'Oh, forget it,' I replied. 'They don't know me, and anyway, I'm in the middle of this vacation that I really need.' But unfortunately he put the pressure on me to return, and I flew back to New York." The Beatles Off the Record: Outrageous Opinions & Unrehearsed Interviews