It was 56 years ago tonight (February 11th, 1964) that the Beatles played their first American concert, in Washington, D.C. at the Washington Coliseum, in front of 8,092 screaming fans. The group performed in the round, and after every three songs the group and their roadies would switch their equipment to face another side of the audience. Portions of the concert are available on the DVD The Beatles' First U.S. Visit.

The group's set list that night was: "Roll Over Beethoven," "From Me To You," "I Saw Her Standing There," "This Boy," "All My Loving," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "Please Please Me," "Till There Was You," "She Loves You," "I Want To Hold Your Hand," "Twist And Shout," and "Long Tall Sally."

The late-filmmaker Albert Maysles, who shot the documentary with his brother David, told us that the DVD really captures what was going on at the time: "The film holds up as being totally truthful and authentic. We didn't slight them in any fashion, nor did we create a puff piece. I'm sure that those who were alive, and those who knew the film and saw it -- I mean, the Beatles, all of them -- felt that, 'Yeah, this is what it was.'"

Jonathan Gould, the author of the groundbreaking Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, And America, feels that the Beatles landing in America less than three months after President John F. Kennedy's assassination only helped to endear them more to a mourning nation: "I think there's an extent to which nobody in America understood how affected everybody was by the Kennedy assassination. For many people who lived through that time, they can say, 'Well that's when everything seemed to change,' or 'That's when the '60s as a kind of dynamic force seemed to begin for some people in their lives.' And then a few months later, suddenly this other thing comes along. That sense of revelation that people had when they first saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, which was really the first time they saw the Beatles animated."

ONE YEAR EARLIER -- ON FEBRUARY 11th, 1963. . .

It was 57 years ago today (February 11th, 1963), that the Beatles recorded their first album, Please Please Me, in just under 10 hours. The album also featured both sides of their first two singles -- "Love Me Do"/"P.S. I Love You," and "Please Please Me"/"Ask Me Why," which had been recorded the previous autumn. The session for the album began at 10 a.m. at London's Abbey Road's Studio Two -- the main studio the group would use for the next eight years -- with 10 takes of the John Lennon-Paul McCartney original, "There's A Place."

Over the course of the day the group basically performed their stage show as the tapes rolled, recording future Beatles classics like "I Saw Her Standing There," "Do You Want To Know A Secret," and "Twist And Shout." The group's recording engineer Richard Langham recalled the session in Mark Lewisohn's The Beatles' Recording Sessions book. He remembered that when producer George Martin and the other engineers announced that they were taking a lunch break, the Beatles chose to stay and rehearse, revealing that, "When we came back they'd been playing right through. We couldn't believe it. We had never seen a group work through their lunch break before."

The tracklisting to Please Please Me is: "I Saw Her Standing There," "Misery," "Anna (Go To Him)," "Chains," "Boys," "Ask Me Why," "Please Please Me," "Love Me Do," "P.S. I Love You," "Baby It's You," "Do You Want To Know A Secret," "A Taste Of Honey," "There's A Place," and "Twist and Shout."

The late, great Geoff Emerick, who worked with the Beatles throughout their career and became their primary engineer with 1966's Revolver album first met the "Fab Four" in 1962 during his second day on the job, while the group was recording their debut single, "Love Me Do." He told us that he was immediately struck by how unique their humor and personalities were: "They were down in the studio. 'Cause it was the second day that I had been there. And I just liked the vibe, y'know the happy vibe. It was completely different, because it's like their attitude was against the establishment -- although (producer) George Martin had some decorum within the control room, an air of decorum. And it's like these kids down in the studio clowning around, y'know?"

The sessions only produced one outtake -- 13 takes of an early attempt at Lennon-McCartney's "Hold Me Tight" which was re-recorded later that year for their second album, With The Beatles.

George Martin originally wanted to name the album Off The Beatle Track, but it was decided that it would help sales by naming the album after their current hit single. Martin went on to use the name for his 1964 instrumental album of Beatles hits.

Please Please Me was released on March 22nd, 1963, and entered the British charts at Number Nine. After seven weeks it hit the Number One spot, where it stayed for 29 weeks.

The American version of the album, called Introducing The Beatles, was originally released in the U.S. on July 22nd 1963 -- and went nowhere. It was re-issued on January 27th 1964 and peaked at Number Two for nine weeks behind the group's breakthrough Capitol album Meet The Beatles.

Although original drummer Pete Best was on hand for the Beatles' June 6th, 1962 audition for EMI, he was replaced by Ringo Starr 17 days before their first official session for the label. Best, who says that he has had no substantial contact with any of the Beatles since the night before he was fired, feels that Ringo walked into a much cushier job than he did upon joining the Beatles: "Y'know, when you think about it, the first trip out to Hamburg, (Germany), we were playing six, seven hours a night. And I think actually, when (laughs) Ringo joined they were playing 20 minutes, half-an-hour sessions, or something like that. So, I did a lot of the spade work, put the long hours in and he was the one who picked up the glory."

During his final in-depth TV interview in 1975 on NBC's Tomorrow Show, John Lennon explained that a major part of his and the Beatles' allure was the fact that they were never ashamed of their Liverpool roots: "We were the first working class singers that stayed working class, and pronounced it. 'Didn't try to change our accents, which in England were looked down upon -- probably still are -- like a Bronx accent, it's the equivalent to that."

ON THIS DAY IN 1965:

It was 55 years ago today (February 11th, 1965) that Ringo Starr became the second Beatle to marry when he tied the knot at London's Caxton Hall Register Office, to longtime girlfriend, Maureen Cox. Beatles manager Brian Epstein served as Ringo's best man, with both John Lennon and George Harrison in attendance. Paul McCartney did not attend as he was on vacation in Portugal.
As John Lennon and Cynthia Powell had in 1962, Ringo and the then-18-year-old Liverpool hairdresser headed down the aisle not long after discovering their first child -- current Who drummer Zak Starkey -- was on the way. Ringo and Maureen had two other children -- Jason and daughter Lee. The couple divorced in 1975 -- two years after Maureen and George Harrison had a brief affair.
In 1976 Maureen began living with Hard Rock Cafe and House of Blues co-founder Isaac Tigrett. In 1987, Maureen gave birth to her and Tigrett's only child, Augusta King Tigrett, with the couple marring in 1989. Maureen died in 1994 due to complications from leukemia.

In April 1981, Ringo married actress Barbara Bach, who co-starred with him in Caveman. Bach's sister Marjorie is currently married to Ringo's close friend, former producer, and original All Starr Band-mate Joe Walsh.
George Harrison's first wife, Pattie Boyd, told us that although learning of George and Maureen's mid-'70s affair absolutely devastated her and Ringo, she kept up appearances around Maureen afterwards: "I would be civil to her afterwards, but y'know, I can forgive but I won't forget. And so I was civil to her, but she seemed to be really angry with George, I don't know. She was angry with George afterwards, I think she thought that they would stick together. I don't know what her desire was. I didn't know what she was hoping for, really. I didn't know what she hoped to get out of this whole thing, except maybe she hoped that she would be with George, and he didn't want it, otherwise they would have stuck together."

ON THIS DAY IN 1968:

It was 52 years ago today (February 11th, 1968), while meeting at London's Abbey Road Studios to film a promo clip for their soon-to-be released spring single, "Lady Madonna," the Beatles decided to actually record a new track, tackling the John Lennon classic "Hey Bulldog."

The tracks was completed in 10 takes, featuring John Lennon and Paul McCartney on vocals, Lennon on piano, McCartney on bass and percussion, George Harrison on guitars, and Ringo Starr on drums.
The tune, which was cut from the U.S. prints of the Yellow Submarine film, would be released in January 1969 on the soundtrack album. For years, the footage shot during the session was known only for its use in the "Lady Madonna" clip. In 1999, with the release of the remixed Yellow Submarine Songtrack, the film was finally re-edited to showcase the "Fab Four" recording "Hey Bulldog."
Paul McCartney ranks "Hey Bulldog" as one of his favorite Beatles sessions: "One of the things that I like about John's songwriting style is its quirkiness. And I think 'Hey Bulldog' is very surreal. And obviously I like the moment when we're in there and I'm harmonizing with him, and I start being a dog, and he says 'You got any more? (howls).' The spirit of that session is brought back by the recording, y'know?"
AUDIO: PAUL MCCARTNEY ON 'HEY BULLDOG'
AUDIO: PATTIE BOYD ON GEORGE HARRISON'S AFFAIR WITH RINGO STARR'S WIFE
AUDIO: JOHN LENNON ON THE BEATLES STAYING WORKING CLASS
AUDIO: PETE BEST ON RINGO STARR STEALING HIS GLORY
AUDIO: GEOFF EMERICK ON HIS FIRST IMPRESSION OF THE BEATLES
AUDIO: JONATHAN GOULD ON THE KENNEDY ASSASINATION PRECEDING 'BEATLEMANIA'
AUDIO: ALBERT MAYSLES SAYS THE BEATLES FIRST U.S. VISIT DVD IS AN ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF THE TIME