You’ll have to ask you dad about this one. 50 years ago today The Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. It set a record for the biggest television audience in the history of television. Over 71 million people watched The Beatles make their first performance on American television. It would later be considered as one of the most important moments in rock music. The Beatles were completely different from anything anyone had seen in North America. Although their music was derivative of American music, it was foreign and nobody in the America music industry could screw with it.
I wonder what a 13 girl would make of the old footage of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. My guess is that they would say that the Beatles are a lot like One Direction. Don’t shoot me for saying that but if you’ve seen any of the interviews and press conferences with One Direction you'll find that they have same charm, confidence, humour and cockiness of John, Paul, George & Ringo.
Listen to the songs The Beatles performed on television that night:
ALL MY LOVING - “Close your eyes & I’ll kiss you; tomorrow I’ll miss you, remember I’ll aways be true”
TIL THERE WAS YOU - “a cover from the musical The Music Man”: “there were bells, on a hill, but I never heard them ringing…til there was you”
SHE LOVES YOU - “She loves you, yeah yeah yeah; She loves you, yeah yeah yeah; She loves you, yeah yeah yeah yeah.”
I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND…
To be fair, those songs were the norm at the time but if The Beatles made their debut on television tonight singing those kind of songs we’d treat them as we do One Direction - as lightweights.
Thank god there was more to them than what we saw on television. In a live performance, The Beatles were charming but awkward…but in the studio they were genius. They were fantastic musicians, arrangers, singers and their musical imaginations seemed boundless. The Beatles were fearless.
On the night of the Sullivan show, little did anyone know that 40 blocks south of the Theater in New York where they performed that night, some guy named Bob Dylan was beginning to forge a new voice and conscience for modern music. It would only be a year or two later that the Beatles would meet Dylan and things would really change: The Beatles would evolve and write some of the greatest songs of all time and Dylan would go electric (that’s a whole other story).
Dave Grohl told the audience at the Grammy Awards this year that, “none of us would be here without The Beatles”. It’s hard to argue with that.