Frank Sinatra Thought The Beatles 'Would Die in New York': 'I Guess I was Wrong'

Article Highlights:

  • The Beatles were excited and confident to make their American debut
  • Frank Sinatra didn’t think New York would take to The Beatles
  • The reported special Frank Sinatra/Beatles collaboration that never saw the light of day

In 1964, The Beatles were huge in England. And they were beginning to make waves in America, too. But they hadn’t made it overseas just yet. When the band was invited to play on The Ed Sullivan Show and at Carnegie Hall, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were nervous but confident. Frank Sinatra, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure The Beatles would be well-received in New York.

How The Beatles felt about playing in America for the first time

The Beatles didn’t get excited about much back in 1964. They developed a blasé attitude as a “defense mechanism” to deal with all of the huge things happening to them in life. It was their way of dealing with fame. But when the band was invited to play in America, they couldn’t help but be over the moon. Harrison wrote about the experience in his column for the Daily Express (along with the help of Daily Express writer Derek Taylor) in 1964. He said the group was anxious but resolved to play their best — that was all they could do, after all.

On the agenda was playing The Ed Sullivan Show (where Elvis Presley sent the band a telegram wishing the boys a good show) and several big concerts, one of which was at Carnegie Hall — “That’s what we’re really looking forward to,” wrote Harrison.

The response they received was better than they ever could have imagined. Beatlemania had arrived in the states along with Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr.

Frank Sinatra didn’t think New York would love The Beatles

People all over America took to The Beatles, even New Yorkers. This surprised Sinatra. At the end of Harrison’s Daily Express column about the trip, a footnote from the “My Way” singer was printed.

“I thought the Beatles would die in New York,” it read. “I was very surprised by the reception they got. I guess I was wrong.”

Just a few years down the road, Sinatra would be covering The Beatles. First, he sang his rendition of “Yesterday,” by McCartney and Lennon, and then “Something,” by Harrison, which he called “the greatest love song of the past 50 years.”

Frank Sinatra’s sweet favor for Ringo Starr

Other than a few covers here and there, The Beatles and Sinatra didn’t really collaborate. But Starr did ask Sinatra to help him with a surprise for his wife, Maureen, in 1968, according to the IB Times. For his wife’s 22nd birthday, Starr reached out to (or had someone else reach out to) Sinatra to create a special version of “The Lady Is a Tramp” for Maureen, who was a huge Sinatra fan. The singer must have been touched by the request because “Maureen Is A Champ” was born. With lyrics like “She married Ringo, and she could have had Paul. That’s why the lady is a champ” and “Though we’ve not met, I’m convinced she’s a gem, I’m just F.S., but to me she’s big M,” the recording is a truly special piece of history. It’s unknown what happened to the original recording of “Maureen Is A Champ,” but there is a copy of the recording on YouTube, the link to which can be found in the IB Times story.

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