1963 was the year the Beatles exploded onto the mainstream music scene in the UK. In this year they released their debut LP titled ‘Please, Please, Me’, delivered a Royal command performance, as well as several high profile television appearances to name just a few high points. The year ended with their launch into superstardom when Beatlemania really kicked off with the release of their second album and two more legendary singles which also set them up to take America by storm too.
Read on to find out more about the songs, performances and highlights that shaped The Beatles and their success in the year of 1963.
March 1963 – The Start Of Something Big
‘Please Please Me’ was the debut studio album released by the fab four. It came out in the UK on the 22 March 1963, was produced by George Martin, and the album really paved the way for the start of something big.
Tracklist For Please Please Me Side 1
- I Saw Her Standing There
- Anna (Go To Him)
- Ask Me Why
- Please Please Me
Tracklist For Please Please Me Side 2
- Love Me Do
- P.S I Love You
- Baby It’s You
- Do You Want To Know A Secret
- A Taste Of Honey
- There’s A Place
- Twist And Shout
The first two singles released from the record were ‘Love Me Do’ which debuted on 5th October 1962 and ‘Please Please Me’ which was released on 11th Jan 1963. The songs reached number 17 and number 2 respectively.
‘Love Me Do’ was written by Paul McCartney several years before it was recorded and before the Beatles had even formed. It was later recorded by the band three times at the Abbey Road studios in London featuring a different drummer each time.
‘Please Please Me’ was written by Lennon and McCartney and was the Beatles first single to reach number 1 in the new musical express and melody maker charts, but as it only reached number 2 on the record retailer chart, which later evolved to become the UK singles chart as we know it today, it’s not usually classified as their first official number 1.
Their number one debut album stayed at number 1 for 30 weeks, which was unheard of for a pop album at the time. It has since been released in 12 different formats including vinyl, digital download, C.D and cassette.
Touring With The Band
The band’s first UK tour, ‘The Beatles Winter 1963 Helen Shapiro Tour’ kicked off on 2nd February this year. It ran for a total of 14 performances which finished on the 3rd March with a break in the middle of the dates. For this touring run, The Beatles were part of an eleven act bill headlined by Helen Shapiro, and the tour was played in cinema and theatre venues largely in the North of England, but with a few performances further South.
The tour took the Beatles to towns in; Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Bedfordshire, Tyne & Wear, Somerset, York, Merseyside, and Shropshire. During the second part of the tour, on the coach on the way to the Shrewsbury gig, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the single, ‘From Me To You’. This was later released as their third single the following month of April to become their first official UK number one single.
Tour Dates For The Winter Tour
- 2nd Feb 1963 – Gaumont, Bradford
- 5th Feb 1963 – Gaumont, Doncaster
- 6th Feb 1963 – Grenada, Bedford
- 7th Feb 1963 – ABC Cinema, Wakefield
- 8th Feb 1963 – Regal, Carlisle
- 23rd Feb 1963 – Granada, Mansfield
- 24th Feb 1963 – Coventry Theatre, Coventry
- 26th Feb 1963 – Gaumont, Taunton
- 27th Feb 1963 – Rialto, York
- 28th Feb 1963 – Grenada, Shrewsbury
- 1st Mar 1963 – Odeon, Southport
- 2nd Mar 1963 – Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield
- 3rd March 1963 – Gaumont, Hanley
Joining the band on the tour were the following 11 acts in order of appearance on the bill:
- Red Price Band
- The Honeys
- Dave Allen
- The Beatles
- Dave Allen
- Danny Williams
- Red Price Band
- The Kestrels
- Kenny Lynch
- Dave Allen
- Helen Shapiro
When The Beatles hit the stage for their set, they typically performed four songs but had two alternatives ready to perform too.
Typical Set List For The 1963 Winter Tour
- Chains, sung by George Harrison
- Keep Your Hands Off My Baby, sung by John Lennon
- A taste of honey, sung by Paul McCartney
- Please Please Me, sung by Lennon and McCartney
With Love Me Do and Beautiful Dreamer prepared as alternatives ready to go if needed.
The Tommy Roe/Chris Montez Tour
Less than a week after the end of the Helen Shapiro tour closed, The Beatles were now second on the bill for the Tommy Roe and Chris Montez Tour alongside other support acts including The Viscounts, Debbie Liee, The Terry Young Combo and Tony Marsh.
This 21 date tour ran from the 9th March through to the 31st March which spanned the time of the re-release of their debut album Please Please Me on the 22nd March.
On the 15th night, at the Empire in their hometown of Liverpool, the headliner Chris Montez let the band close the show. Sadly for Chris, they did such a good job, and were so popular that the change was made permanent by the tour management for the rest of the run.
The Stage Got Bigger With De Montfort Hall
On the last day of March and the last night of the Tommy Roe/Chris Montex Tour, the Beatles performed at De Montfort Hall in Leicester, England. This was the largest music venue in the town with a capacity of around 3000 and was one of the bigger venues the band had played together to date.
This concert was the first of three times that the band played live at the venue with their performances in March 63, Dec 63 and Oct 64. Although the platform was more impressive, this first performance in the spring of this year was fairly muted and had much less fanfare than the December performance later this year. By the December concert, the band were awarded with a packed out hall, filled with screaming fans desperate to see the fab four in the midst of Beatlemania at the end of their breakout year, we’ll cover later on this page.
From Me To You & Eleven Consecutive Number Ones
Following the success of their first two singles, ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘Please Please Me’, on April 11th of this year The Beatles released their third UK single, ‘From Me To You’ with the B side ‘Thank You Girl’. The song was the band’s first number 1 on what later became the official UK singles chart but their second after ‘Please Please Me’ on most other singles charts at the time.
From Me To You was recorded on the 5th March at EMI studios and just nine days later it began its twenty-one week run in the UK charts. From here, it eventually went on to reach number one on the 4th May and then stayed there for seven weeks running! It was also the first of 11 consecutive number 1’s for the band!
Breaking In The BBC
Another notable performance for the band this year comes in the shape of the BBC Light Programme concert, ‘Swingin Sounds 63’ which was performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London on the 18th April to a capacity audience of over 5,000 people. The light programme preceded BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 1 and was the home of mainstream entertainment and music between 1945 and 1967. It provided a great boost to the band’s rising popularity and it was also soon after this performance that Paul met his soon-to-be girlfriend Jane Asher, who attended the concert as a reporter for the Radio Times.
The Roy Orbison/The Beatles Tour
The Band’s third collaborative tour of the UK ran from the 18th May to the 9th June 1963 with over 21 shows played.
By now the band was growing in popularity and caused such a stir that they were bumped up the bill to become co-headliners with Roy Orbison, who was originally supposed to be the headline act. This promotion was due to the reaction of the audience on the tour and led to them taking the headline closing spot for the remaining dates.
Their set list included the following songs which gave them a larger spot on the bill than they held on previous tours.
- “Some Other Guy” (John Lennon)
- “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” (George Harrison)
- “Love Me Do” or “A Taste Of Honey” (Paul McCartney)
- “From Me To You” (John Lennon)
- “Please Please Me” (John Lennon)
- “I Saw Her Standing There” (Paul McCartney)
- “Twist and Shout” (John Lennon) or “Long Tall Sally” (Paul McCartney)
The 20 date tour ran from 18th May 1963 to the 9th June 1963 with the stops in the following venues and cities:
- 18th May – Adelphi, Slough
- 19th May – Gaumont, Hanley
- 20th May – Gaumont, Southampton
- 22nd May – Gaumont, Ipswich
- 23rd May – Odeon, Nottingham
- 24th May – Granada, Walthamstow
- 25th May – City Hall, Sheffield
- 26th May – Empire, Liverpool
- 28th May – Gaumont, Worcester
- 29th May – Rialto, York
- 30th May – Odeon, Manchester
- 31st May – Odeon, South-end-on-Sea
- 1st June – Granada, Tooting
- 2nd June – Hippodrome, Brighton
- 3rd June – Granada, Woolwich
- 4th June – Town Hall, Birmingham
- 5th June – Odeon, Leeds
- 7th June – Odeon, Glasgow
- 8th June – City Hall, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
- 9th June – King George’s Hall, Blackburn
from: Glarry Official Site
The Band’s First EP, (Extended Play)
Following a busy couple of months of touring, ‘Twist And Shout’ was the first UK extended play (EP) released by the band. Accompanying the song on the record was ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’, ‘A Taste Of Honey’ and ‘There’s A Place’ which were all from The Beatles’ debut album, ‘Please Please Me’.
The EP was released by Parolphone on the 12th July in the UK, and later in Germany, Spain, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.
The title song, ‘Twist And Shout’ was a cover of the Isley Brothers version of the song and was far more popular under The Beatles’ release than its previous editions, including the original version recorded by The Top Notes, an American R&B group in 1961.
‘Twist And Shout’ showcased the band at their ‘rock n roll’ best and became a firm fan favourite, with the band continuing to perform it until the end of their August 1965 tour. It was also used as the closing number for their stand out live performances of this glorious year on their ‘Sunday Night At The London Palladium’ appearance in October 63 and ‘The Royal Variety Show’ in November this year.
Breaking Records With ‘She Loves You’
‘She Loves You’ was the fourth single to be released from the band’s first album and was again written by the powerhouse duo, John Lennon and Paul McCartney and recorded on 1st July 1963. When it was released on the 23rd August 1963, the song set, and broke many records at the time and more than any other song, it was the breakthrough that led to their international success.
Even today, it remains the foursome’s best-selling single in the UK and the top-selling single of the entire sixties decade by any artist. It hit the number one spot twice in 1963, the first time on September 4th and the again on November 20th.
EP Number Two
‘The Beatles’ Hits’ was the band’s second EP and it was released in the UK on the 6th September 1963. The record featured four songs; ‘From Me To You’, ‘Thankyou Girl’, ‘Please, Please, Me’ and ‘Love Me Do’. It entered the charts on the 21st September spending three weeks at number one from the 2nd November before spending a further 43 weeks in the UK charts. It also spent 18 weeks in the singles chart peaking at number 14.
Two More Tours & The London Palladium
October was another busy month in the year of 1963 for The Beatles. They toured twice, once with a mini tour of Scotland and once abroad in Sweden. It was also their debut on the ever popular and career escalating show, ‘’Tonight at the London Palladium’. This televised musical variety show is credited for really kicking off the phenomenon that was Beatlemania in the UK.
The Mini Tour Of Scotland
Spanning just three dates, The Beatles’ whistle top October tour of Scotland saw them perform at Concert Hall. Glasgow on the 5th, The Carlton in Kirkcaldy on the 6th and Caird Hall in Dundee on the 7th. It was just a week after this last show that the band appeared on ‘Sunday Night At The London Palladium.
Sunday Night At The London Palladium
It’s fair to say that The Beatles popularity has been steadily building throughout 1963 but it was their appearance at The London Palladium on Sunday 13th October that really catapulted them into the attention of mainstream media who then coined the phrase ‘Beatlemania’ to describe the hoards of screaming fans the band attracted.
‘Sunday Night At The London Palladium’ was the pinnacle of TV entertainment at the time. The Sunday slot regularly commanded up to 15 million viewers each week and topped the TV ratings to provide the hot topics of conversation for the workplace the following Monday morning.
The foursome’s debut performance on ‘Sunday Night At The Palladium’ couldn’t have been more well received. They closed the show with performances of ‘From Me To You’, ‘I’ll Get You’, ‘She Loves You’, and rounded off the night with their latest single at the time, ‘Twist And Shout’.
After their appearance on the show they were featured on ITN news the following day and newspapers were filled with praise for the band and quickly jumped on to sharing stories of the mass of screaming fans they attracted everywhere they went. This extended cover signified the start of press and airwave domination of several for years to come.
Beatlemania was a phrase coined by the British press to describe the raucous, intense and dedicated fanbase surrounding The Beatles and their actions. The band’s frenzied and loyal fans bordered on obsessive, with girls planning their weddings to the fab four and screaming hysterically at concerts they played. Beatlemania was undeniable with adulation, screaming fans and hysteria following the band wherever they went and building to fever pitch for their world tours in 1964.
The Beatles Tour Of Sweden, 1963
The Beatles Tour Of Sweden was the band’s second whistle stop tour of October 1963 but the first that saw them venture overseas. The five night tour running from the 25th – 29th October took them to a new army of fans in Stockholm, Goteborg, Karlstad, Boras and Eskilstuna.
The Royal Variety Show
Being asked to perform at the annual Royal Variety Show in the UK is an honour for any artist, and it was one that was bestowed to The Beatles on the 4th November 1963. At this time, they were already huge stars in the making and in the midst of the Beatlemania movement, but it was this show that afforded them an even bigger leap towards superstardom – strange to think they were unknown to the public just a year earlier!
The show was broadcast by ITV from the Prince of Wales Theatre near Leicester Square in London and it pulled in ITV’s most viewed show of all time at the time with a record 21.2 million people tuning in. The Queen herself was unable to attend this year as she was pregnant, but the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret were in the audience to see the band’s performance.
The band’s closing number was the ever popular ‘Twist And Shout’ and just a few days after the broadcast, The Beatles went on to secure their fourth British number one single with ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’.
One More Single, EP And The Much Awaited Second Album
By November, the year may have been drawing to a close but The Beatles were just getting started on their journey to super stardom, showing no signs of slowing down. In November alone the band released a single, an EP, and their hotly anticipated second album.
A Third EP
The Beatles (No.1) was the third and final EP released this year in the UK on 1st November 1963. It was only released in mono and contains songs from ‘Please Please Me’ including:
- ‘I Saw Her Standing There’
- ‘Anna (Go To Him)’
The record entered the charts on the 9th November before staying there for 29 weeks, reaching its highest position of number 2.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand
‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ became something of an iconic song for The Beatles, attracting over 1 million advanced orders in the UK alone. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it was the last single to be released in their inaugural year of 1963, on 29th November. It was recorded the previous month on the 17th October 1963 and was the Beatles first record to be made using four-track equipment.
The single stayed in the charts for 21 weeks in total and would have gone straight to the number one spot but it was blocked by their own song, ‘She Loves You’. ‘She Loves You’, originally released earlier this year in August, was back at the top of the charts at the time following the intense media coverage the band attracted following their recent performances at The Royal Variety and ‘Sunday Night At The Palladium’. After two weeks in the charts at number 2, it finally took the top spot and stayed there for five weeks.
This catchy song was also the bands first American number one hit and sold more than 12 million copies worldwide. In 2018, Billboard magazine named it the 48th biggest hit of all time and was the second highest selling single of the entire 60’s behind ‘She Loves You’.
The Second Studio Album
‘With The Beatles’ was the much awaited second studio album from The Beatles. Released by the rock band on 22nd November 1963, exactly eight months after their debut album, it was once again produced by George Martin. This time around, they attracted the skills of fashion photographer Robert Freeman to take the now infamous cover shot which has since become something of an iconic image mimicked by many artists that followed.
In contrast to their first album which was recorded mostly in a single day, this offering was put together over three months in seven sessions between July and October 63, and none of the 14 tracks were released as singles.
The tracks included eight brand new compositions, George Harrison’s first recorded solo composition, and six covers.
Track Listing Side 1
- ‘It Wont’ Be Long’
- ‘All I’ve Got To Do’
- ‘All My Loving’
- ‘Don’t Bother Me’
- ‘Little Child’
- ‘Till There Was You’
- ‘Please Mr Postman’
Track Listing Side 2
- ‘Roll Over Beethoven’
- ‘Hold Me Tight’
- ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’
- ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’
- ‘Devil In Her Heart’
- ‘Not A Second Time’
- ‘Money (That’s What I Want)
De Montfort Take Two
In the final leg of the year and run up to Christmas, the band played for the second time at De Montfort hall in Leicester. It was a night that goes down in the event venue’s history and a gig that will stay with those lucky enough to get a ticket forevermore.
On December 1st 1963 The Beatles, the biggest band in the UK at the time, played 10 songs which kept them onstage for around 30 minutes and performed to a packed out crowd of hysterical screaming teenage fans.
The gig was the hottest ticket in town, with fans bubbling with excitement weeks in anticipation and queuing all night in sleeping bags on the street when tickets went on sale.
We’ve taken you through some of the most defining performances, appearances, albums, and tracks that shaped 1963 for the Beatles and it’s fair to say that this was the year that the Beatles really found their voice.
It is a year that will always be remembered for The Beatles, and their ability to create rare TV moments that got the whole nation glued to their screens and talking of nothing else. The rise of Beatlemania afforded the fab four an army of screaming fans that followed their every move and sent their records to the top of the charts, as the classic rock era really took off.