JFK Marker Celebrates Beatles’ Arrival

BY JOE MARVILLI
Staff Writer

Queens loves them, yeah, yeah, yeah!

On Feb. 7, 1964, four lads from Liverpool flew into John F. Kennedy airport on Pan Am Flight 101 for an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. Their names were John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, also known as The Beatles. The band’s arrival marked the beginning of Beatlemania in the United States and was honored last week with a commemorative marker in the terminal where they arrived 50 years ago.

Ken Dashow, State Sen. James Sanders, Liverpool Lord Mayor Gary Millar, Port Authority deputy executive dir. Deborah Gramiccioni and Assemblywoman Margaret Markey revealed the plaque honoring the Beatles’ arrival at JFK. Photo by Joe Marvilli

Ken Dashow, State Sen. James Sanders, Liverpool Lord Mayor Gary Millar, Port Authority deputy executive dir. Deborah Gramiccioni and Assemblywoman Margaret Markey revealed the plaque honoring the Beatles’ arrival at JFK. Photo by Joe Marvilli

“The Beatles stepped off a Pan Am plane from London for their first U.S. tour, ushering in a new era of rock‘n’roll and a sweeping transformation of American culture,” the plaque partially read.

The occasion was marked by speeches, special guests and a performance by a Beatles cover band called Liverpool. The group played “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Please Please Me,” “She Loves You,” plus a few more songs. As they played through the early Beatles classics, fans danced and held up signs to show that Beatlemania still runs deep for many.

There was more than one type of Liverpool representation at the event though, as Councillor Gary Millar, the Lord Mayor of the city itself, was on hand to celebrate his town’s most famous citizens. Deputy Mayor Wendy Simon of Liverpool was in attendance as well.

“I’m just looking around at this beautiful restoration, the grandeur of this building. Can I just say, you’ve taken me back 50 years,” Millar said. “I actually feel like I’m with the Beatles at the moment.”

The Lord Mayor gave a plaque from Liverpool to Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye, who also talked about the momentous event.

“JFK airport once again lived up to its reputation as the gateway to America, welcoming four young lads from England off Pam Am Flight 101, ushering in a transformation of rock’n’roll and American culture,” he said. “They’ve remained at the top of the charts for 50 years and they’re still guaranteed to raise a smile.”

Deputy executive director Deborah Gramiccioni added that the Beatles’ music is universal, spanning generations and having an impact on music fans everywhere.

“To be a music fan is to be a Beatles fan,” she said. “In one of their most popular songs, the Beatles ask us to ‘Come Together.’ They remind us that we are all part of a universal family and that there is far more that united us, then divides us.”

While neither Paul McCartney nor Ringo Starr attended the ceremony, Millar said they were both supportive of the commemoration. The only person related to the Beatles who attended was John Lennon’s half-sister, Julia Baird.

Ken Dashow of 104.3 concluded the speeches by perfectly summing up why the Beatles have continued to have such an impact throughout the last 50 years.

“Their music will always be cool. The message ‘All You Need Is Love’ will always be cool,” he said. “They changed the game.”

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, jmarvilli@queenstribune.com, or @Joey788.