Why Paul McCartney Was Hesitant About The Beatles Going to the United States

The Beatles set the stage for the British Invasion, in which British rock bands became increasingly popular in the United States. When they first traveled across the Atlantic, they were greeted by droves of screaming fans who never left them alone. However, Paul McCartney had reservations about The Beatles going to the U.S. and didn’t want to make the trip until the fab four reached an impressive milestone.

Paul McCartney didn’t want The Beatles to go to the United States until they had a No. 1 song

The Beatles first visited the U.S. in 1964. They appeared a few times on The Ed Sullivan Show. These performances sent their popularity into the stratosphere, as they now became famous in the most prominent music market in the world. Their trip to the U.S. only heightened Beatlemania, but McCartney was worried about going to North America.

In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning to promote his new book 1964: Eyes of the Storm, McCartney said he didn’t want to go to the U.S. until The Beatles had their first No. 1 hit. He worried they would make the trip and return without creating an international impact.

“That was pretty spunky to kind of think that,” McCartney said. “But I’d seen quite a few of our major stars go to the states, and we’re going, ‘Well, he’s gonna leave us now. He’ll be made famous over there.’ But then they’d come back, and they weren’t famous. So, I said, ‘Well, if we go over there, I really don’t want to come back with our tail between our legs.’”

He said having a No. 1 record was key because if any journalists asked what they were doing here, they had the perfect response.

“We’re kids from Liverpool, and we’re trying to get famous, and it’s not easy,” McCartney explained. “And we were like stars in America. People loved us. So, we loved it. And having that No. 1 was really the secret because if the journalists, you know, New York journalists, ‘Hey, Beatle…Why are you here?’ We said, ‘We’re number one in your country.’ Bingo!”

What was The Beatles’ first No. 1 song?


The Beatles had a few early hits in the U.K. before eventually reaching the top of the charts. Their first No. 1 hit on the U.K. singles chart was “From Me to You,” released in 1963. However, when the song was released in the U.S., it only reached No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The Beatles’ first single in the United States was “Please Please Me”. While it reached No. 1 in the U.K., it didn’t make an impression in the U.S. on its first release. When it was re-released in 1964, it peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100.

Their first No. 1 in the U.S. came in 1964 with the release of “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1964 and stayed for seven weeks before it was replaced by “She Loves You”. From that moment, The Beatles knew they were stars in America, and the British Invasion began.

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