On this date in 1964, the Beatles posted their first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, as “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” their first entry on the list, rose 3-1 in its just its third week on the chart. It had vaulted from its No. 45 debut the week before.
Eight days after the song reached No. 1 (Feb. 9, 1964), the Fab Four would appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which drew a reported 73 million viewers, helping fuel the wave of Beatlemania that crashed U.S. shores following the band’s native British breakthrough.
“Hand” would spend seven weeks atop the Hot 100 and mark the first of their record 20 No. 1s. (Mariah Carey ranks second with 18 toppers.) It’s also their second-longest reign, bested only by “Hey Jude,” which led for nine frames beginning the week of Sept. 28, 1968. “Hand” is one of the two-longest-dominating debut Hot 100 hits released on Capitol Records: Katy Perry tied the mark when “I Kissed a Girl” led for seven frames in 2008.
“We wrote a lot of stuff together, one-on-one, eyeball to eyeball,” John Lennon recalled in 1980. “Like in ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ I remember when we got the chord that made the song. We were 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 nose.”
Following the Beatles’ historic Hot 100 run with the composition, “Hand” has returned to the tally twice. The Boston Pops Orchestra’s instrumental version, helmed by Arthur Fiedler, reached No. 55 in August 1964, while the “Glee” cast’s ballad cover, sung by Chris Colfer, spent a week on the chart (Oct. 23, 2010) at No. 36.