The Timeline of 'A Hard Day's Night'

Hop onboard with us as we journey through key dates around The Beatles' first film and their iconic album, 'A Hard Day's Night'.

5 min read

1964 was a huge year in Beatles history. The Fab Four were catapulted into fame through the boom of Beatlemania, capturing the hearts of fans across the globe during their highly anticipated world tour. It was also the year The Beatles wrote, recorded and released one of their most iconic albums and released their first feature-length film of the same name: ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.

Both the album and film were met with huge critical acclaim, and remain treasured cultural artefacts of The British Invasion. But how did The Beatles pull off making an iconic album and feature length film in just 7 months, at one of the most hectic times in their career? Hop on board as we journey through the timeline of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’!


29th January – 3rd June 1964: Album recorded


Unlike the Beatles’ first two albums, all 13 tracks on ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ were written by Lennon and McCartney, showcasing the maturation of their songwriting partnership.

The album was recorded over nine non-consecutive days in between touring and filming commitments, with “Can’t Buy Me Love” as the first song to be recorded. This Beatles classic was recorded in Pathé Marconi Studios in Paris – in the same session, the Fab Four were recording German versions of “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. The rest of the album’s songs were recorded at the band’s usual spot, EMI Studios (now Abbey Road Studios).


2nd March 1964: Filming begins


Unlike a lot of films, A Hard Day’s Night was shot almost chronologically. The first day of filming commenced at Marylebone Station in London, for the film’s iconic opening scene of the Fab Four catching a train.

Filming for A Hard Day’s Night took place in numerous locations across London – except for scenes inside the train, which were instead shot on a real moving train travelling between London and Somerset.

It took slightly over 7 weeks to shoot the film, and just over 4 months from the start of filming for the picture to be released in theatres – a very fast turnaround by today’s standards!

Beatles A Hard Days Night Memorabilia

An original lobby card from 1964 advertising A Hard Day’s Night, on display at The Beatles Story, Liverpool.


16th April 1964: “A Hard Day’s Night”, the song, was recorded


Surprisingly, the film’s title track was written and recorded whilst filming was already underway!

It’s said that Lennon took the reins on the song, although McCartney contests that it was a collaboration. In an interview with David Sheff in 1980, John describes the race between him and Paul for who could write the film’s title track first:

[T]here was a little competition between Paul and I as to who got the A-side – who got the hits. If you notice, in the early days the majority of singles, in the movies and everything, were mine … in the early period I’m dominating the group … The reason Paul sang on ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ [in the bridge]  is because I couldn’t reach the notes.

– John Lennon, 1980

Recording the song took fewer than three hours, and from the instantly recognisable starting chord to the song’s fade out, history was made.


26th June 1964: ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ US album release


The American version of the ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ album included all songs used in the film, alongside ‘I’ll Cry Instead’ which was unfortunately left on the film’s cutting room floor. The album also features orchestral versions of “I Should Have Known Better”, “Ringo’s Theme”, “And I Love Her” and “A Hard Day’s Night”, arranged and conducted by George Martin.

When the album was released, it topped the Billboard US album charts and stayed put for 14 weeks – the longest No. 1 of any album that year!


6th July 1964: A Hard Day’s Night film release and London premiere


Just a few days later, The Beatles released their first ever feature film, celebrated with a premiere at the London Pavilion. Princess Margaret was also in attendance, and the area surrounding the theatre had to be closed to traffic as over 10,000 fans filled the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of the Fab Four!


a hard day's night at the london pavilion

A Hard Day’s Night at the London Pavilion. Photo credit: Luckhardt.


10th July 1964: Northern premiere held in Liverpool


A dedicated Northern premiere of A Hard Day’s Night commenced at the Odeon Theatre in Liverpool. Whilst The Beatles were nervous about returning to their hometown as “local heroes”, they were met with an estimated 200,000 fans lining the streets they’d known as young lads.

Beatles A Hard Days Night Memorabilia

A cinema ticket from the Northern premiere of A Hard Day’s Night, on display at The Beatles Story, Liverpool.


10th July 1964: ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ UK album release


Two weeks after the States, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ LP released in the UK to critical acclaim, and is cited as being an inspiration for many bands to follow, including The Byrds.


a hard days night cover with the beatles signatures

Our ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ vinyl on display at The Beatles Story, Liverpool. It is the only know copy of the album that is signed by all four Beatles.


For many fans, this iconic song, album and film signifies a time in which The Beatles were cemented as global superstars. In all its forms, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ captures the pure essence of Beatlemania – and allows audiences today to catch a glimpse into the height of it all.
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