P.S.-Pooh Says...

"What day is it? - 'It's today' - squeaked Piglet. 'My favourite day' - said Pooh."- A.A. Milne

09 February 2014

I Still Wanna Hold Their Hand-50 Years Ago Today, The Beatles Really BIG Show

 “The only thing that’s different is the hair, as far as I can see. I give them a year.” 
Ray Bloch Musical Director The Ed Sullivan Show,1964

 On February 9, 1964 the country was still grieving  after the assassination of President Kennedy in November.  With still  one foot  in the 50s, the times "they were a changing".  We were still living in black and white -literally and figuratively but 1964 was an extraordinary and pivotal year culturally, racially, and socially. The events that took place would forever change our identity as a nation. Generations would be divided.  Women would question their roles.  The Civil Rights Movement would take on quiet protest and unspeakable violence.  This was the year of  The Freedom Summer, The Free Speech Movement, the election of Lyndon Johnson by a landslide, the launch of The Great Society and The War on Poverty, the publication of The Feminine Mystique, Voting Rights, and the escalation of our involvement in Vietnam.  A year that introduced Simon and Garfunkle, Betwitched, Mary Poppins, The Supremes, My Fair Lady...and it all kicked off with a visit from four lads from across The Pond.

 "Now yesterday and today our theater's been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that this city never has witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves The Beatles. Now tonight, you're gonna twice be entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles! Let's bring them on."  
Ed Sullivan February 9,1964

I was not around to witness the launch of Beatlemania but my generation, as all that would follow, would be forever  changed culturally and musically by what would become known as Beatlemania. 


  “How do you find America?” Ringo Starr jokingly replied, “Turn left at Greenland.”

 On February 9 the country tuned into a favorite Sunday night tradition, The Ed Sullivan Show, but it wasn't to watch TopoGigio.  The Beatles had arrived in America and this would be their first televised appearance live on this stage!  They were 4 mop topped kids from Liverpool with skinny ties and stacked heels and over 73 million people tuned in that night to witness the phenomenon known as The Beatles. It was amazing anyone could hear the boys at all amongst the screaming teens in the audience and throngs outside the Ed Sullivan Theatre.  The screaming was so loud that Ed Sullivan scolded his audience that if they didn't quiet down he would "call a barber."  So it was that night that a country in much need of  diversion found it in the new sound, the new look and the personality of these four guys who would literally turn New York City, the country, and the world,  upside down.  40% of everyone in the country watched The Beatles that night.


"I’ve heard that while the show was on there were no reported crimes, or very few. When The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, even the criminals had a rest for ten minutes".
George Harrison

Imagine the thrill for us going on The Ed Sullivan Show, especially when they told us it was the biggest show ever. I still remember one of the producer guys coming into our dressing room just before we went on and saying ‘It’s being watched by seventy million people, you know’. It was like ‘Shhh. Don’t tell us that now. Tell us later’. But then, when you look at the tape, we don’t look nervous".
Paul McCartney

 Not everyone welcomed The Beatles with adoration.  In Newsweek's cover story their reviewer wrote:

“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.”

Their music has become the soundtrack of our lives and even after 50 years no, no matter their age, can deny the extraordinary impact they had.  This was not a "flash in the pan"-many who followed and imitated certainly were, but The Beatles changed the game 
and even those who feared Rock n' Roll could not ignore them. The Beatles would make a total of three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show-all in black and white-the final appearance on August of 1965 was one day before they launched their North American Tour at Shea Stadium and one week before The Ed Sullivan Show would be broadcast in color.