Appreciating all that makes America special

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show

The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show,

The Beatles not only set audience records on the Ed Sullivan Show, they established themselves as the phenomenon of an entire decade. Uploaded by

America experienced collective depression as the year 1964 dawned. John Kennedy, a charismatic and much-loved president, had been assassinated in November, 1963. No American seemed able to lift the cloud over the country – but four young men from England accomplished it in a way that’s still talked about almost 50 years later.

The Beatles with Ed Sullivan,

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The story goes that Ed Sullivan and his wife arrived in London to find thousands of young girls waiting at the airport. When he inquired about the reason, he was told that a music group called The Beatles was just arriving from a tour in Sweden. Sullivan was so impressed he immediately began the effort to secure them for his show. What we know for sure is that The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, agreed to three performances for the sum of $10,000. No, I didn’t leave off any zeroes. That’s all they charged. Shoot, we could have had them play at our prom for that amount.

For their first appearance, the Fab Four performed these hits: “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The result was the largest audience at the time in television history, and engendered this review from Newsweek magazine: “Visually, they are a nightmare: tight, dandified, Edwardian/Beatnik suits and great pudding bowls of hair. Musically, they are a near-disaster: guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat that does away with secondary rhythms, harmony, and melody. Their lyrics (punctuated by nutty shouts of “yeah, yeah, yeah!”) are a catastrophe, a preposterous farrago of Valentine-card romantic sentiments. The odds are they will fade away, as most adults confidently predict.” And Newsweek’s track record continues to be off-base after all these years.

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