How the Beatles Reacted to the Success of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand,’ According to Cynthia Lennon

The Beatles released their chart-topping single “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in 1964. By that point, “Beatlemania” was already in full swing, which was both “amazing” and “overwhelming,” according to John Lennon’s ex-wife Cynthia Lennon.

The Beatles released ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ in 1964

The Beatles, from left to right Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon (1940 - 1980), and George Harrison (1943 - 2001), performing in front of a camera-shaped drum kit on Granada TV's Late Scene Extra television show
The Beatles, from left to right, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison, performing on Granada TV’s Late Scene Extra television show | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr made up the chart-topping rock band The Beatles, succeeding with several early singles. As one of their most popular releases, this group debuted the single “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

“Oh, yeah, I’ll tell you somethin’ / I think you’ll understand,” the first verse states. “When I say that somethin’ / I want to hold your hand.”

This track was initially included in the 1964 collection Meet the Beatles! Written by the duo of McCartney and Lennon, the track now holds over 325 million Spotify plays. The band even played this song when they visited The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

The Beatles’ reaction to their success, according to Cynthia Lennon

The Beatles released other singles before “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” including “Love Me Do.” However, the 1964 track found success even before it premiered.

There were advance orders for a million copies of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Once the song was released, it went straight to number one on the music charts. In her 2005 memoir, Lennon detailed the Beatles’ experience releasing new music. 

“For the boys, all this was, by turns, amazing, funny, bizarre, overwhelming, and frightening,” Cynthia Lennon noted. “Suddenly, they couldn’t go anywhere without protection. Things they had taken for granted all their lives, like going to the pub, walking down the street, or visiting a friend, were no longer possible.” 

This success/powerful fandom followed the Beatles to their homes, with Cynthia Lennon recalling Lennon would sign autographs outside of their home. Ringo Starr’s then-girlfriend was even scratched by a crazed fan.

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Along with the Beach Boys, the Beatles dominated the music scene in the 1960s. They released Abbey Road, featuring songs written by Ringo Starr (“Octopus’s Garden”) and George Harrison (“Here Comes the Sun.”)

The Beatles’ overwhelming success even led the band to stop performing live concerts for large audiences. The screams became too loud that band members couldn’t hear themselves. The Beatles’ final live performance occurred at London’s 3 Savile Row, also known as the Apple Corps headquarters. 

They played on the roof of the building until they were advised against it by law enforcement. Fans even got an inside look at this performance thanks to the Disney+ documentary series The Beatles: Get Back

The Beatles officially broke up in 1970, confirmed by a “self-interview” by McCartney. Now, music by the rock band is available on most major streaming platforms.