1963: So There's This Band Called the Beatles...
Billboard, Dec. 28, 1963, page 4
Most Americans had never heard of the Beatles when the Dec. 28, 1963 issue of Billboard hit the stands, but the page 3 story was right on the money. The article began: "Beatlemania appears to have taken off in the United States. The now famed group of four Liverpool lads, known as the Beatles, haven't even made their first trip to America but the publicity ruckus stirred so far is of major proportions." Billboard reported two new Fab Four developments: a rush-release by Capitol Records of the label's first Beatles single, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (all previous Beatles singles released in the U.S., including "From Me to You" and "She Loves You," had been turned down by Capitol and released by other labels, such as Vee Jay and Swan. Capitol scheduled a Dec. 26 release date for "I Want to Hold Your Hand," but DJ Carroll Baker at WWDC in Washington, D.C. obtained a copy of the U.K. single on Parlophone from a BOAC stewardess and was already giving it airplay. "The reaction has reportedly been strong," the Billboard article stated. Also revealed in the story: the Beatles will arrive in New York in February to make appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show," but NBC-TV's Jack Paar was going to feature the Mop Tops first,
in a filmed segment on his prime time show to be broadcast Friday, Jan. 3, 1964.
1952: THE RAT PACK'S HOME IS BUILT
Billboard, Dec. 27, 1952, page 1
An advertisement from the December 27, 1952 edition of Billboard promoting the opening of Las Vegas' Sands Hotel. The opening gala featured Danny Thomas (above) who performed at the Copa Room, natch.
Billboard gives page one coverage to the opening of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, "the latest addition to the glittering strip," where "the biggest and most expensive shows in the world" can be "seen for the price of a cup of coffee." The story describes the main showroom, the Copa Room, as a "lavish, 385-seater, opulently decorated in a Brazilian carnival motif" and mentions the recording artists who are already booked to appear: Lena Horne, Billy Eckstine and Edith Piaf. The article explains how the press corps covering the event couldn't take advantage of the hotel pool because of inclement weather, so, "to keep the scribblers from feeling too lonesome, each got a bag of 25 silver dollars…and let loose on the crap, roulette and blackjack games…the majority blew their stake the first day." The Sands Hotel earned its place in music history, with albums recorded in the main showroom appearing on the Billboard charts ("Sinatra at the Sands" peaked at No. 9 in 1966 and Nat King Cole's "Nat King Cole at the Sands" reached No. 74 the same year). The hotel became home to the Rat Pack, the ultra-cool entourage of entertainers that included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. And in April 1956, while making his Las Vegas debut at the Frontier Hotel, Elvis Presley headed over to the Sands to catch lounge act Freddie Bell & the Bell Boys. He liked their version of Big Mama Thornton's No. 1 R&B hit "Hound Dog" so much, he decided to add it to his repertoire.
The Sands Hotel stood for one month shy of 44 years and was imploded on Nov. 26, 1996, to make way for one of Vegas' luxury mega-hotels, the Venetian.
1942: BIG BUSINESS PREDICTED FOR THE BIG APPLE'S NEW YEAR'S EVE
Billboard, Dec. 26, 1942, page 11
The cover of Billboard Magazine's December 26, 1942 issue featured band leader Jan Garber. Notice the U.S. war bonds and stamps ad as the issue coincided with World War II.
Billboard previewed what customers could expect to pay for an evening fo entertainment for New Year's Eve in New York City. Manhattan hotels were charging $10 to $15 a customer, while night clubs were asking $7.50 to $15 a head. Many bars were adding a cover charge of 50 cents to $1, and other watering holes were establishing $2 minimums. Some hot spots were lowering prices to welcome in 1943. The Hotel Pierre was reducing its admission from $15 to $12.50 and the Diamond Horseshoe's three-tiered price structure of $5, $10 and $12.50 was being abandoned in favor of a two-tier fee of $7.50 and $10.