Sunday, February 12, 2012

All the Way from Liverpool: The Beatles on Ed Sullivan 48 Years Ago

Friday was the 48th anniversary of a truly seismic cultural event: The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. I remember reading in a Beatles book somewhere that the screaming was so loud in the theatre that some people lost their teeth. Here's their full set from that appearance: "All My Loving," "Till There Was You," "She Loves You," "I Saw Her Standing There," and "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

Watching the above clips, it’s worth noting how tight they were as a band - these songs weren’t easy to play. In its way, their mop-top era music was as radically different compared to the mainstream pop of the day as their later work would be. They were innovators right from the beginning, impressing fans, critics and fellow musicians alike. 

I've always loved this quote by Bob Dylan, wherein he describes hearing the Fab Four for the first time right around the time of Sullivan:

"We were driving through Colorado, we had the radio on, and eight of the Top 10 songs were Beatles songs...'I Wanna Hold Your Hand,' all those early ones. They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid...I knew they were pointing the direction of where music had to go."

There’s a fab doctumentary called the Beatles 1st US Visit which covers all the unbelievable mayhem swirling around the boys as they live calmly in the eye of the Beatlemania hurricane. 

Despite the significance of the event and the fact that it was directed by the famous filmmaking brothers Albert & David Maysles, who would go on to direct the best rock-doc of all time, Gimme Shelter, the film remains curiously underseen. Fortunately, someone has loaded the whole Beatles film up to YouTube, starting with part one here:

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