Half a century after the Beatles boarded Pan Am flight 101 in London bound for New York, the United States prepares to commemorate and celebrate the landmark visit that catapulted the group to fame on this side of the Atlantic.

Liverpool"s "Fab Four" landed in New York at 1:20 p.m. on Feb. 7, 1964. Unable to contain their frenzy were some 4,000 screaming fans, along with 200 reporters and more than 100 cops.

Two days later, on Feb. 9, the group - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS television, where they sang five numbers live, including "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You."

It was a historic moment with more than 73 million viewers of a show that audience-measurement firm Nielsen rated the most watched television program in history.

And on Feb. 11 they arrived by train in the U.S. capital, where they gave their first concert in the United States, which according to some was a rehearsal for their Carnegie Hall debut in New York the next day.

Washington's Uline Arena, a setting for shows and sports events, will stage a commemorative concert on Feb. 11 by the Beatlemania Now tribute band.

Nor will New York skimp on its efforts to honor the memory of the group that altered pop culture overnight and helped raise Americans' spirits just 77 days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

The New York program will include four nights of concerts, a symposium with "veterans" of the Beatles era, and a Fest for Beatles Fans at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

On Sunday, Feb. 9, coinciding with the anniversary of their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, an all-star tribute to the Beatles will be broadcast that was filmed Jan. 27 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. EFE