Monday, February 10, 2014

Rant #1,341: That Night, 50 Years Later

Fifty years ago, my family and lived in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, New York.

And at 8 p.m., we had our old black and white Dumont TV tuned to "The Ed Sullivan Show" on CBS, as we always did on Sunday nights. Yes, back in those days, families watched TV together. Not every show, of course, but certainly on Sunday nights, it was Sullivan.

There was a wide group of performers on the show, from novelty acts to somebody by the name of Tessie O'Shea, two guys who would become international stars within the next two years, impressionist Frank Gorshin (as the Riddler on the "Batman" TV series) and David Jones, who played the Artful Dodger as part of the Broadway cast of "Oliver" which appeared on this show. Of course, David morphed to Davy Jones, and he had as much to be thankful for on this particular show as anyone did.

Because the headliners of the "real big show," as Ed usually said, were the Beatles.

And once they came on the show, things were never the same again.

Last night, CBS ran a special which channeled the excitement of that show through today's music stars, and although Ringo and Paul were also on this show, sorry, you guys really dropped the ball on this one.

CBS should have gotten together with Sofa Productions, which owns the Sullivan shows, and actually ran the entire one-hour show that the Fab Four were featured in on that night 50 years ago, February 9, 1964.

And to add insult to injury, the new show was taped in Los Angeles about a week ago, depriving it of that live, New York vibe.

This was a total turnoff to me, so to complete my own 50-year circle, I watched that entire, original show, on DVD, just about to the minute that I watched it as a six year old 50 years ago.

As a six year old, I was truly mesmerized by what I saw: these four guys with long hair playing a different type of music and with all the girls yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs.

I just don't think you can get the vibe that was set that very night 50 years ago without watching the original show from the beginning to the end.

Highlights simply will not do.

The Beatles opened the show, but they did not close it, as many people think.

There was some type of European novelty act that closed the show, twisting and turning their bodies in every contortion you can think of.

Even though that was something in itself, they really couldn't follow the Beatles, nor could the guy with the card tricks who followed them earlier in the show. In fact, his segment was the only one that was taped for the particular show. Everything else was done live.

I decided to take some photos as I watched this show, and they really show that everybody who was there was having a fine time.

Whether anybody thought that the Beatles' appearance, their manner, and their music would be world changing back that night is anyone's guess.

But what I saw as I watched this show 50 years later was something incredible, something that we now know changed the world.

As a six year old kid, there is no way I could have envisioned that, and even as a 56 year old, it is hard to fully contemplate that night within its own context.

Sure, I bet the show that CBS did show yesterday night was fine for what it was, but kids, if you are reading this, go to YouTube or get the video of the actual show, and that goes for you oldsters too.

You cannot get the full thrust of what was going on on this show--and why it was so earth-changing--without watching it from the first minute to the last.

Through the cast of "Oliver" through Gorshin through Mitzi McCall and Charley Brill through the novelty acts through Tessie O'Shea, you saw a changing of the guard right before your eyes.

And it was all in spectacular black and white.

John and George are gone, Paul and Ringo carry on the legacy, but back then, we were all young, wide eyed, and ready for anything.

That "anything" was the Beatles, and boy they were something, weren't they?

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