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'The Beatles Come to America'

The Early Show, Martin Goldsmith
CBS/The Early Show
When the Beatles came to this country, they took the music world by storm. And their influence is felt to this day.

In the new book "The Beatles Come To America," Martin Goldsmith shares some amazing details about their legendary appearances and the group's private side, too.

The book takes a detailed look at the start of the Fab Four's career in Liverpool, and the firestorm of interest that started the moment they hit American soil.

The heart of this cultural phenomenon was their music and Goldsmith tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm it was honed in Germany's seedy bars.

He says, "They took on Hamburg as their conservatory. They played sometimes 12-hour sets. They had to stretch out what might be a three-minute song to be 20 minutes long. And repeat choruses 20 times."

The Beatles redefined the way records were made. Prior to them, Goldsmith notes, singers were told what to record. He says, "The Beatles wrote their songs and they wrote magnificent songs. And they were able to present their own vision of their music to the world."

Before they came together as the Beatles, George Harrison had visited the U.S. and he told the others that American has its own music and there was no reason for America to need them as a group.

And, Goldsmith says, "John Lennon pointed out that a lot of English stars had come to America and, as he put it, ended up 14th on the bill to Frankie Avalon.

"For the book, I interviewed Quincy Jones, the record producer. He met the Beatles in Paris in January '64. He entered into a bet. He joined Brian Epstein and Paul McCartney and bet Ringo, George and John, that the Beatles would be successful. The other three weren't so sure."

The bet was for $100. Their first three American releases did flop. And when they first came over to America, the newspapers treated the band dismissively.

Goldsmith points out, "'The Washington Post,' after they played on Ed Sullivan, reported that the Beatles were important hillbillies who looked like shaggy sheepdogs and sounded like alley cats in agony."

It wasn't until Jan. 16, that "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" hit No.1 on the Billboard charts. Most people don't know that the Beatles held the No.1 spot before they played "The Ed Sullivan Show."

And most people attribute the Beatles' initial success to a CBS Report, and a letter from Marsha Albert - a teenage girl who wrote her local radio station and asked, "Why can't we have that type of music here?"

Goldsmith says, "But it wasn't only the young people who loved the Beatles. After the Beatles played 'Ed Sullivan,' they went down to Washington, gave a first concert in D.C. and back in New York, played a couple concerts at Carnegie Hall. Then two days after that, the very classical conductor Leopold Stokowski gave a concert in Carnegie hall. Somebody asked him what he thought of the Beatles. He replied that the Beatles and he were both seeking the same thing: 'We are both,' he said, 'searching for our vision of the ecstasy of life.' And I think that's what the Beatles gave us 40 years ago, but they've given us ever since a vision of the ecstasy of life."

Their music is so good, Goldsmith predicts that 50 years from now, people will still be listening to the Beatles. He says, "I guarantee that we'll be listening to them 140 years from now and 240 years from now. They are that good."

As for how the whole experience impacted the Beatles at the time, Goldsmith says that one of the associate producers, John Mofit, saw Ringo in Miami Beach and Ringo looked kind of sad. Mofit asked, "What's wrong?" And Ringo said, "This has been the most brilliant week. How can we top this?"