On the night of February 9, 1964, television personality Ed Sullivan coined the phrase that would later be known as the start of the “British Invasion” of America.
The Beatles had won world recognition for their stylish hair, boyish charm and revolutionary music. Their coming to the United States sparked a fandom that would last for generations.
To celebrate The Beatles’ influence over America, the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock presented “Ladies and Gentlemen: The Beatles!”
The exhibit, which was showing from Oct. 8 2016 to April 2, 2017, brought in over 4.2 million visitors, spokesperson Rebecca Tennille said.
The exhibit included over 400 pieces of memorabilia, as well as videos, audio clips and photographs of the band.
“We really did take the time to explore the first few years of The Beatles and the very early impact they made, before anyone knew how long any of their careers were going to be or their sustaining impact,” Tennille said.The memorabilia included suits worn by the band members,record albums, ticket stubs, replicas of the instruments they played, and all kinds of fan collectables, such as rings, pins and Beatles board games.
There were multiple parts of the exhibit that were interactive. Besides headsets spaced out around the exhibit, there was a drum set where guests could sit down and learn how to play the drums with Ringo. There was a booth where guests could record their voices singing “Yellow Submarine.” The exhibit also included a wallpaper of Abbey Road, where guests could take photos of themselves crossing the famous crosswalk.
UCA alumnae Thom and Melinda Asewicz came to the exhibit with their 1-year-old son Oliver. They said that they were both big Beatles fans growing up and that they had even held a Beatle-themed party for their son’s first birthday. They both thought that it was important to share this musical history with him.
“Music’s a big part of my life and The Beatles are a big influence on me,” Thom Asewicz said. “So even if he doesn’t end up liking them as an adult or as a teenager, he can understand where a lot of things came from cause they had such a big impact.”
The exhibit was curated by the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles and by Fab Four Exhibits LLC.
Photos by Lauren Swaim