When you think of teen sensations One Direction and Justin Bieber probably come to mind.

In 2010 we saw a media circus as 4000 Justin Bieber fans camped out in Sydney waiting for their pint-sized hero.

But that's nothing compared to The Beatles.

Even in little old Adelaide in June, 1964, 300,000 fans lined the streets to greet the Liverpool band. That's half the population of the city at the time.

Rock historian Glenn A Baker says no other teen sensation will ever exceed what The Beatles achieved during their trip to Australia nearly 50 years ago.

"Nothing has ever changed or impacted on Australia more dramatically. No royal tour, no political event ... Because this really did take us somewhere else, it changed us," Baker says, speaking both musically and culturally.

"When you came home from school in the afternoon and turned on the radio, if it wasn't all Beatles you wanted to know why. One Direction eat your heart out."

And The Beatles in Australia exhibition, which opens at the Powerhouse Museum on September 21 before travelling to the Arts Centre Melbourne in March, is proof that all the myths surrounding their visit are true.

Eccentric MP Bob Katter did throw eggs at John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr when they visited Queensland, the army was called in to control crowds in Melbourne, and merchandise from tea cups to badges to wigs were sold as Beatlemania took hold.

Baker says: "Watching them arrive in Sydney on that morning in June in the pelting rain and they're there under umbrellas ... I'm thinking, `Ah One Direction you don't know how good you've got it'."

Powerhouse Museum curator Peter Cox first had the idea for the exhibition three years ago and developed it with Arts Centre Melbourne, but wanted to wait to launch it.

"With the 50th anniversary next year, that's why we decided to do it now," he says.

"With an anniversary, you get in and anticipate it, you don't wait til it comes and then start to celebrate it."

The exhibition will actually come to an end on the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of the tour, on July 1, 2014.

Cox says this exhibition has been a long time coming and is unique because it's specifically about the band's tour to Australia.

He has spent a year sourcing content for the exhibition, which largely tells the story through the media - newspapers, magazines, newsreels, TV reports and radio - that reported it.

However some fan scrapbooks, items from collectors and a suit worn by John Lennon on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, is also on display, as well as magazines including a Woman's Day featuring a quirky Margaret Fulton recipe for a cake at your Beatles-themed party.

"The Beatles career has been incredibly overdocumented really, but their 13 days in Australia is perhaps part of the story that we can tell," Cox says.

"We're not trying to tell their whole career."

 

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