Beatles 50th Anniversary
Who says you can’t buy me love? Sure, The Beatles did, but buying and listening to one of their priceless albums made me fall in love with their music. And back in 1964, so did the rest of the world.
John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr first sang and played their way into the hearts of small-town English residents living in Liverpool and Hamburg. But when manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin discovered the boys and molded them into a professional group, let’s just say the rest is history.
On Feb. 9, The Beatles celebrated their 50th anniversary as a mega-successful English rock band during their first appearance on the infamous Ed Sullivan Show. This was the group’s first American live television performance. Dressed in their crisp suits and sporting mop top haircuts, Lennon, Harrison, McCartney, and Starr graced the stage in CBS’s TV Studio 50 in New York, NY. Yet prior to their live television performance, Beatlemania had already hit the United States…hard.
Before their Ed Sullivan Show debut, The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was leaked before its planned US release to radio stations across the country. Capitol Records attorneys were unable to stop American radio DJs from playing the songs, and as a result, the record label released the record ahead of schedule. It sold 250,000 copies in the first three days, and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the number one song on the Billboard charts by the month’s end. Sometimes, accidents are good.
The weeks leading up to The Beatles’ performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in America were nothing less than chaos. Radio stations across the country played the band’s music at all hours. Teenaged fans sported “Beatle” wigs. Bumper stickers on cars warned “The Beatles Are Coming.” Celebrities fought to the finish to get seats for their families and friends in The Ed Sullivan Show studio. American reporters and screaming fans waited willingly outside of New York’s Kennedy Airport when The Beatles landed on February 7th, 1964. Americans couldn’t wait to get their first taste of pure music magic.
When The Beatles finally performed on The Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964 at 8:00 p.m., 73 million Americans were glued to their television sets. The television rating was an unbelievable 45.3, meaning that 45.3% of households with televisions were watching The Beatles that evening. Talk about popular!
Never before had a music group won such widespread popularity in both Europe and the U.S. as The Beatles did. Beloved by many and revered as a catalyst for a global rock music movement, The Beatles still have a strong influence today. Tribute groups all across the country play Beatles music for people of all ages to appreciate. Films, commercial products, and digitally re-mastered CDs are still sold in stores and enjoyed by many. And, lucky for us, The Beatles are closer than we think…check out Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band in Williamsport, PA on June 8. Yes, a live Beatle in our backyard!
It’s no secret that The Beatles were amazing. As music lovers, it’s our job to understand music history and honor the people who heavily influenced the music of today. “Let It Be” known that The Beatles were certainly those people, and their memory will live on, “like a blackbird singing in the dead of night.”