The Beatles’ 1963 Revisited

IT'S JULY 1, 1963 AND at London's Abbey Road Studios a song is recorded that will change the world, the lit fuse of the most extraordinary pop culture explosion of the 20th Century. It's called She Loves You, the work of a Liverpudlian four-piece three singles (the last, From Me To You, their first UK Number 1) and one album old, not yet thoroughly Fab, but already pretty damn great. The Beatles' 1963, already manic in the extreme, is about to propel them into a mind-blowing transmogrification. By the end of the year they will be legends, aliens, avatars. Weird hardly describes it, but there were upsides, of sorts... "We found girls hiding in the ceiling at Abbey Road," reveals Paul McCartney, revisiting Beatlemania in an exclusive interview in this month's MOJO. "We were recording and we heard some sort of noise. They eventually found out that high up in the ceiling there's maintenance ducts and there was a few fans who'd managed to get in there who were getting a bird's eye view of the session. So that was like, Oh boy."

MOJO's 1963 focus unearths a bevy of other untold stories. How The Beatles' 1963 support act Roy Orbison stemmed the screaming (clue: "Pianissimo..."). Why the group were "strange and slightly scary". And why Cavern DJ Bob Wooler was punched by John Lennon. It's Beatlemania in all its two-fisted glory and here, in seven short instalments, is what it looked (and sounded) like...

1. She Loves You

Recorded on July 1 and issued on August 23, 1963, She Loves You is the song that crystallised Beatlemania in a musical sense, its call-and-response vocal proving irresistibly infectious – a point borne out by the fanatical audience reaction captured on this pre-release promo film. "I have it from a reliable source that a half million advance orders have been made for The Beatles' latest single release, She Loves You. It looks as though it could well be three Number 1s in a row for the Liverpool boys," comments Brian Matthew. He was not wrong, as She Loves You went on to become The Beatles' biggest selling UK single of all time.

2. The Mersey Sound

"This is a story about a special kind of noise. A noise worth a small fortune. A noise that has made a provincial city, for a time at least, the metropolis of pop music. This is the story of The Mersey Sound." Cue perfectly stage-managed scenes of everyday mania – the most impressive of which is Ringo Starr's attempt to leave his house with small, screaming children literally hanging off him – in a film that captured The Beatles on home turf alongside fellow Scousers The Undertakers and Group One. Shot between August 27 and 30 by BBC producer Don Haworth, the live footage of The Beatles performing Twist And Shout and She Loves You comes from the Little Theatre on Hoghton Street, Southport, and was filmed without an audience, in order to allow minimal fan disruption. Footage of frenzied teens was then cut in from a performance at the Southport Odeon.

3. Ready! Steady! Go!

"The Weekend Starts Here!" proclaimed Ready! Steady! Go!'s opening titles, and on Friday October 4, 1963, that promise came with an added frisson of excitement as The Beatles made their debut on the show. "What was their name again?" jokes guest presenter Dusty Springfield as she introduces a version of Twist And Shout. Later, she asks a number of fan-sourced questions. "How about your hair? Is it real? Or is it a wig?"

4. Thank Your Lucky Stars

Before defecting to Ready! Steady! Go! in the summer of 1963, presenter Keith Fordyce was one of the key presenters on Thank Your Lucky Stars, the pre-eminent pop programme of its day, made by ABC for ITV. The Beatles had made their first appearance on the show on January 19, bottom of a seven act bill, and performed their second single, Please Please Me. Four further appearances followed, their fifth coming on October 20 and proving a crowning moment for the four when 3000 fans were locked outside the studios.

5. The Beatles Come To Town

"The manager makes sure that his staff is ready for the biggest night of the year, and able to cope with a terrific audience response evoked everywhere by The Beatles," states the plummy-voiced narrator, introducing this remarkable access-all-areas short that chronicles John, Paul, George and Ringo's two-night stand in November at the 2500-capacity ABC cinema in Ardwick, Manchester, where the backstage security consists of "just one copper". The film itself is shown with the "generous permission of their famous manager, Brian Epstein". Thanks, Mr E.

6. The Royal Variety Performance

"Are you going to lose some of your Liverpool dialect for the Royal show?" asks a BBC reporter, quizzing The Beatles in the run-up to the band's Royal Variety Performance on November 4, 1963. "No, we don't all speak like the BBC," smarts Paul. It's a theme he returns to in the new issue of MOJO magazine, in which we trace the band's rise from the summer of '63 to the release of their second album, With The Beatles. The events that led to Lennon's infamous "just rattle your jewelry" line (08:07) are also revealed in the same said issue of the magazine.

7. From Beatleland...

An exclusive bulletin from "Beatleland, formerly known as Britain" by the laconic Alexander Kendrick, broadcast on November 21 on CBS television, was one of the first reports to reach America detailing the impact of The Beatles phenomena in Britain, the former war correspondent warning of the effect of the band's "dishmop hairstyles" on "screaming, swinging juveniles." Never have the words 'Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!' been uttered with such a knowing lack of conviction.

Read more about The Beatles in 1963 in the latest MOJO magazine, on sale now.