Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rant #672: Eight Arms to Hold You

Today is the 48th anniversary of one of the most memorable TV appearances of all time.

On this date in 1964, the Beatles made their first live appearance on American television, performing on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Although I wasn't even seven years old yet, I remember the show vividly.

I remember that this was a time when TV was shared with all the family. Families generally had one TV, and everyone gathered in front of the TV to watch shows, and watch them together.

I know that my family gathered in front of our Dumont black and white TV to watch the Beatles that night. We always watched Ed Sullivan on Sunday night. It really was a tradition that stretched until the end of the show's run in 1971, and this night was going to be no different than any other.

But it was.

Ed Sullivan was old Hollywood. He would have on the Georgie Jessels, the Judy Garlands, and the other greats of that time period.

But in the late 1950s, Sullivan, ever the showman, knew that to keep his show up to date, he had to have on something for the kids.

Elvis Presley's successful performances on the show solidified that notion, and Sullivan, until the show's end, always had on something for younger viewers, whether it was the Muppets, Topo Gigio or the hottest recording acts of that time.

The Beatles were hot, hotter than hot in 1964, giving all of us something to look forward to less than three months after JFK was assassinated.

And they delivered.

Kids like me sat there mesmerized at the four British moptops.

Their music was new, they looked unlike anyone else I'd ever seen, and they looked like they were having fun.

And viewers were too.

I will never forget that night. Never.

Some say it led them to be musicians, or at least to pick up a guitar and learn to play it.

But for me, it didn't lead me to my future occupation or made me do anything that I wasn't going to do before seeing them.

But to today's kids, who simply have to turn on their TVs or go on the Internet to find the latest recording sensation, they have no idea how world changing that night in 1964 was for my generation, and, yes, down the road, for their generation too.

Rock was finally accepted. It wasn't a trend or a fad.

Elvis laid the groundwork, and the Beatles ran with it.

From then on, "The Ed Sullivan Show" featured the hottest rock acts of the day on a regular basis, everyone from the Dave Clark Five to the Rolling Stones to Sly and the Family Stone to the Supremes to the Association to ...

I mean, it was endless, and served as a reason to watch the Sullivan show each and every week, amid the plate twirlers and the comedians and the Broadway acts.

And I loved it.

There's nothing like it today, and I am glad I was around to witness the night when everything was turned inside out.

And the funny thing is, Beatlemania is still with us. Both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr each released new albums in the past few weeks, and George Harrison and John Lennon remain alive in our hearts even though they have each been gone for years now.

But it started with that night, an evening I will never forget.


  1. It's almost like you were talking my family. It was so exciting that night to see the Beatles. My two older sisters already clued in on the Beatles and youngest sister and me were clowning around until they told us to be quiet...but we fell under the spell of the Beatles, my love of British things started there.

  2. It is one of the seminal moments of my life, and certainly for others in our generation. I don't think people who weren't around then can quite understand what a game changer this was, and it is still truly startling, even all these years later.



yasmin lawsuit