March, 1964 - When The Beatles Ruled Adelaide



Everyone knows the story of when the Beatles touched down in Adelaide, South Australia, on July 12,  1964. It’s been reported many times since how over 200,000 people lined Anzac Highway from the airport to the CBD, all gathered in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the Fab Three[i]. 30,000 people gathered at the Town Hall when they appeared on the balcony and waved[ii].
The reception was incredible and left a lasting impression. Paul McCartney later wrote in the official history of the band, Anthology, “Three hundred thousand people welcomed us to Adelaide. It was like a heroes' welcome. George waved too. That was the kind of place where we would go to the town hall and they would all be there in the centre of the city. If it had happened suddenly, overnight, it might have gone to our heads; but we had come up bit by bit, so it didn't (not too much). We were just very pleased that everyone had turned out.
“We were still close enough to our Liverpool roots to know how it would feel, and what it would mean, if we had showed up in the middle of town to see a group; so we could feel it in their spirit. I think we quite enjoyed it all. It can get a bit wearing, but it certainly wasn't then.
“We came in from the airport - it was the same in Liverpool for the première of a A Hard Day's Night, with the whole city centre full of people - and the crowds were lining the route and we were giving them the thumbs up. And then we went to the Adelaide town hall with the Lord Mayor there, and gave the thumbs up again. In Liverpool it was OK, because everyone understands the thumbs up - but in Australia it's a dirty sign.”
Image courtesy State Library of South Australia
John Lennon was equally impressed, telling a press conference at the time, “Wherever we go, anywhere in the world, this reception which Adelaide has given us will stick in our memories.” He reinforced this when he, too, was quoted in Anthology, “Australia was a high moment, like the first time in America: us appearing on every channel and ten records in the charts. This was another one. It's funny, but there were more people came to see us there than anywhere. I think the whole of Australia was there.
“We must have seen a million million people before they let us go. There was good security and everybody was happy and shouting, but we still saw everybody, everywhere we went - and nobody got hurt.”
The Beatles arrive in Adelaide. King William Street has rarely been so over-run, either before or since
George Harrison would later recall the reception when he began to visit the city in 1986 when the Grand Prix began. His later visits would result in far less people waiting for him and his signature at the airports, but he would memorialise Adelaide at least twice again, once by remembering a jam session with Jeff Lynne which resulted in him going back into the studio to record Cloud 9 and then again when he broke an embargo and played the ‘new’ Beatles song, Free As A Bird a few months before it’s official debut.
Jimmy Nicol, the drummer who would play his final concerts with the Beatles in Adelaide, never said anything on the record about the city.
However the Beatles domination of Adelaide began at least four months prior to their arrival when they achieved one of the most amazing feats in music history for the state of South Australia. In fact, what the Beatles managed to do was unheard of then, and has rarely, if ever, been replicated since. They dominated the Top 40 singles charts like nobody before.
The Beatles first appeared in the Adelaide Top 40 singles charts on 23 March, 1963 when their single Please Please Me debuted at number 38[iii]. For the next month it remained in the 30s, never rising above number 31.
The youth of Adelaide were buying mostly American music at the time. The charts were full of acts ike Paul and Paula (Hey Paula), The Four Seasons (Walk Like A Man), Dion (Ruby Baby), Duane Eddy, Del Shannon, The Crystals, Bobby Rydell, Roy Orbison and Neal Sedaka. The Brits were represented by the likes of the Shadows (Dance On) and the Tornados (Globetrotter), instrumentals that were guaranteed to get people dancing without thinking too much.  The Beatles would help break the American dominance over the Adelaide, and Australian, music scene.
She Loves You entered the charts at the end of August, 1963 and came in at number 28. The same week saw Elvis at number 1 (Devil In Disguise), followed by Australian Rob E.G[iv]., Cliff Richard and the Surfaris (Wipe Out). The same week that the Beatles hit 28, fellow Liverpudlians Gerry and The Pacemakers were coming down the charts, but still in the Top Ten with I Like It, an infectious tune. American Del Shannon had taken Lennon and McCartneys From Me To You to the top five and even Billy J Kramer was getting into the act with Bad To Me also debuting on the charts at number 37. But it was the Beatles who really made an impact.
The following week they’d jumped from 28 to 20. The week after, 14 September, they moved from 20 to 7 – they were in the Top Ten. Bad To Me was hovering in the twenties and I Like It was dropping steadily. Allen Sherman’s Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh was at number one, but not for long.
Saturday, September 21, saw She Loves You reach the top spot after four weeks in the charts. The single would remain there for a month, finally dropping down to position 3 at the end of October, knocked off by Roy Orbison (Mean Women Blues) and Jan & Dean (Honolulu Lulu).  By December it was sitting at number 38, having spent 15 weeks in the charts, longer than any other single that week. But the real impact would come immediately after Christmas 1963.
The first chart of 1964 was issued on Saturday, 4 January. The new releases for that week were Dion (Drip Drop) who came in at number 32. Australian Jimmy Little (Royal Telephone) came in at number 3, an incredible achievement for an Aboriginal singing a gospel song. But it was the Beatles who won the day, with I Want To Hold Your Hand debuting at the top spot. And there it remained.
It was the beginning of the onslaught. A month later I Saw Her Standing There joined Hand, at the number 4 spot. The following week the Beatles held down the top two spots on the charts. February 22, 1964, saw three Beatles songs in the Top Ten, with She Loves You making a comeback at number 9. Even From me To You came back, starting a new run at number 40. The last chart for February saw a top five dominated by Brits. The top five read as such:
1. I Saw Her Standing There/ Love Me, Do Beatles
2. I Want To Hold Your Hand Beatles
3. Glad All Over Dave Clark Five
4. She Loves You Beatles
5. You'll Never Walk Alone Gerry and Pacemakers
Twist And Shout (E.P.) was sitting at 13, From Me To You at 23 and Please Please Me was at number 31.
March, 1964, should forever be known as Beatle Month in Adelaide. The domination of the Top charts was incredible. Here’s how it happened.
7th March, 1964
1. I Saw Her Standing There/ Love Me, Do
2. I Want To Hold Your Hand
3. She Loves You
5. From Me To You
6. Twist And Shout (E.P.)
15. Please, Please Me
23. The Beatles Hits (E.P.)
34. My Bonnie[v]
40. The Beatles No 1 (E.P.)
14 March, 1964
1. I Saw Her Standing There/ Love Me Do
2. Twist And Shout (E.P.)
3. I Want To Hold Your Hand
5. She Loves You
6. Roll Over Beethoven
7. From Me To You
12. Please Please Me
16. The Beatles Hits (E.P.)
18. The Beatles No. 1
21. My Bonnie
21 March, 1964
I. Twist And Shout (E.P.)
2. I Saw Her Standing There/Love Me Do
3. Roll Over Beethoven
4. I Want To Hold Your Hand
5. She Loves You
7. From Me To You
8. Please, Please Me
9. The Beatles Hits (E.P.)
14. The Beatles No. 1 (E.P.)
17. My Bonnie
28 March, 1964
1. Twist And Shout (E.P.)
2. Roll Over Beethoven
3. I Saw Her Standing There/Love Me Do
4. She Loves You
5. The Beatles Hits
7. From Me To You
8. All My Loving (E.P.)
9. Please Please Me
14. The Beatles No. 1 (E.P.)
16. I Want To Hold Your Hand
17. My Bonnie
The song that was holding the Beatles out of having the top eight spots on this amazing week was Glad All Over by the Dave Clark Five which sat firmly at the number 6 position. The last week of March had seen the Beatles holding down 11 of the top 20 and an incredible eight out of the Top Ten. 
The first week of April saw From Me To You and Please Please Me drop out of the Top Ten, leaving the Beatles with six entries. The band would dominate the top five for April, but never have more than six entries in the Top Ten.
Many bands would have killed for that kind of dominance, and still would.
The day before the Beatles touched down in Adelaide, the weekly charts were issued. The Beatles had the top four to themselves, but that was it. The week after the concert saw A Hard Day’s Night (E.P.) enter the Top Ten at number 8, bringing the number up to five. If ever they were going to recreate their glory days of 80% of the Top Ten it should have been in that immediate post-concert era, but it wasn’t to be. They did place six of the Top Ten in August, 1964, but it was a last gasp from a band that had done the impossible.
By December 1964 only one Beatles release was in the Top Ten. Never again would they claim 80% of the Top Ten. For those who still wonder why the Beatles had such an impact upon Adelaide, and why the crowd was there for their arrival, then clues were always there in the charts and record sales.
We shall never see another phenomenon like the Beatles, chart wise. What they did can only be dreamt of now. Nobody had done it before and, to my knowledge, nobody has done it since. Not Abba, who had a similar impact upon the public in 1977, or Kiss in 1979-1980, and certainly not anyone from the 1990s onwards. The Beatles were one of a kind and like them or loathe them, on these numbers alone; you have to surely respect them.
She Loves You - the first Number 1 for the Beatles in Adelaide.

The build up to the dominance

It begins. Eight of the Top Ten belonged to the Beatles for an entire fortnight.


The day before the band landed and performed their first Australian concerts

And the week after. Never would the Beatles be so dominant in the charts again.


[i] For the Adelaide concerts regular drummer Ringo Star was missing in action, sideline with an appendix issue. He would be replaced by fill in drummer Jimmy Nichol.
[iii] All chart information, unless otherwise noted, is derived from the official 5AD Official Top 40 charts in the author’s own collection.
[iv] Aka Robbie Porter.
[v] With Tony Sheridan

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