Sunday, February 9, 2014

February 9, 2014: 50th Anniversary of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show

When I was growing up, most Sunday nights our family would gather in the living room at 8 pm in front of our black and white TV to watch The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS. He had a great variety show for the whole family. Ed would introduce the most popular artists in show business. From music, film, Broadway, opera, and comedy. When the space race was happening, Ed would sometimes have an astronaut stand up in the audience and take a bow.

My older sister, who was a freshman in high school, asked me if I was going to watch The Beatles on Ed Sullivan that night.

My reply was, “Who's that?”

She clued me in, “They're a new, popular band from England. Their music is all over the radio. Everyone at school is talking about them.”

“Sure, OK. I'll watch with you,” I said.

Since Dad had control of the TV, we told Mom and Dad we wanted to watch The Beatles on Ed Sullivan.
 
“Who are they? Are they bugs?” Dad asked.

My sister explained they were a new, popular band from England. Mom and Dad relented.

When Ed finally introduced The Beatles, the camera panned over to the band. Their first song they performed was “All My Loving.” The teenage girls in the audience squealed in delight at the sight of The Beatles. The squealing soon turned into screaming. They screamed throughout the entire song. We had never seen or heard anything like it before. The sounds, the reactions, the volume, it was overwhelming! I think we sat there with our mouths open. WOW!

I became an immediate fan. I wasn't quite a teenager, but I was caught up in the action. Mom and Dad's reactions weren't the same as ours. “That long hair! The noise!” Mom and Dad rolled their eyes and wanted to change the channel right then and there. “NO! They're going to sing two more times in the second half of the show! You can't change the channel now!” It took some convincing, but the channel stayed on CBS.


During their second song, “Till There Was You,” the camera individually cut away to John, Paul, George and Ringo and put their name on the screen, to help introduce them to America. Now we knew who they were. When Dad saw one of the Beatles was named George, he thought they were somehow all right. Dad's name is George too. For their final song, the Beatles performed “She Loves You.” It's still one of my all time favorites.

On August 12, 1966, The Beatles began their 14-date final tour with a concert at Chicago's International Amphitheater. They played two shows, at 3 pm and 7:30 pm, each of which was seen by 13,000 people. My girlfriend, Connie and I, had tickets for the 3 pm show. We wanted to be as close to the stage as we could. We paid $6.50 for the most expensive tickets.

The opening acts for the entire tour were The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle, and The Ronettes. The Beatles' standard set throughout the tour consisted of 11 songs: Rock And Roll Music, She's A Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby's In Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer, and I'm Down. During the tour they occasionally substituted the final song with Long Tall Sally.

That 1966 show I attended when I was a teenager is still one of my fondest memories. I have bragging rights!


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