John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr pose in a portrait on a black backdrop in January 1964
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr pose in January 1964, just weeks before their historic first visit to America.John Dominis—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr pose in a portrait on a black backdrop in January 1964
Two days after their U.S. TV debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show," the Beatles play for 8,000 fans at their first American concert, at the Coliseum in Washington, D.C., on February 11, 1964. Ticket price: $3.
The Beatles joke and smoke at a press date in August 1964.
The Beatles wave to fans as they arrive at the Los Angeles airport in August 1964 for a press conference at the start of their second American tour.
Police hold back a crowd of fans at the Los Angeles airport in August 1964.
Beatles concerts, like this American show in 1964, are noisy affairs where screaming crowds drown out the band.
John, Paul, George and Ringo in a (very, very cold) Miami swimming pool in February 1964.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr pose in January 1964, just weeks before their historic firs
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John Dominis—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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The Beatles Take America, 1964

Feb 14, 2012

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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