Why the British Press Initially Ignored the Beatles, According to Cynthia Lennon

The Beatles are a chart-topping rock band, also known for their impact abroad, defined as “Beatlemania.” However, according to John Lennon’s first wife, the British press didn’t initially grasp the group’s popularity. Here’s what we learned from her 2005 memoir John.

The Beatles were the source of ‘Beatlemania’

Rock and roll band The Beatles pose for a portrait in circa 1962 (Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr)
Rock and roll band The Beatles pose for a portrait in circa 1962 (Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr) | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Comprised of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, the Beatles became one of the world’s biggest rock bands. The group was the source of “Beatlemania,” which CBS News described as an “epidemic” that had “seized” Britain’s teenage population in 1963.

With their success later dubbed the “British Invasion,” The Beatles’ impact abroad impacted the music industry forever. Notably, their performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, where they showcased “I Saw Her Standing There,” “From Me to You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to an ecstatic crowd.  

These crazed fans even impacted the significant others of this rock band. According to Cynthia Lennon, Ringo Starr’s then-girlfriend was scratched in the face by a fan while waiting outside a concert venue

The press initially ‘ignored’ The Beatles, according to Cynthia Lennon

As someone who watched the Beatles grow from the Quarrymen, name Brian Epstein as their manager, and add Ringo Starr to their lineup, Cynthia Lennon detailed the Beatles’ climb to success. Aside from John Lennon writing a “crazy” newspaper blurb about the band’s formation, she claimed the band was missing media coverage. 

“The British press was slow to grasp just how popular the Beatles were and recognize them publicly because nothing like the Beatles had happened before,” she wrote in her 2005 memoir John. “Fans at their concerts all over the country went wild, but the press virtually ignored them.” 

“Before the Beatles, most major stars, certainly rock and roll stars, came from the States,” Cynthia Lennon noted. “When the press finally did catch on, the boys were in demand for interviews, and journalists were astonished to find out how intelligent and articulate they were.”

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The Beatles often performed in America and England

Some of the Beatles’ music (and lifestyles) was informed by their travels. The group practiced transcendental meditation and sang about England’s immigrant policy in “Get Back.” Of course, the band was normally performing in the UK or America.

As seen in The Beatles: Get Back, the Beatles’ team wanted their final live performance to have a lasting impact on their global audience. “Let It Be” director Michael Lindsay-Hogg said, “the only thing is, it’s, I really do think it’s gonna be for the world.”

“You know, the biggest part of our world is America and England,” Starr responded. 

Eventually, the Beatles disbanded, with each member branching out to release solo projects. Now, music by The Beatles is available on most major streaming platforms.