The Beatles Take America, 1964

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr pose in a portrait on a black backdrop in January 1964
John Dominis—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr pose in January 1964, just weeks before their historic first visit to America.

When John, Paul, George and Ringo first made it across the pond in 1964 to play before their adoring, screaming fans in the States—including, famously, performances on The Ed Sullivan Show that mark, for many people, the true beginning of rock and roll’s British Invasion—LIFE photographers capture the Liverpool lads’ wry spirit, their charm and their youth. (Were they really ever that young?)

Here, then, a short selection of pictures from 1964, when a quartet of mop-topped Brits landed on America’s shores and changed the pop-culture landscape forever.


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