The Beatles make American TV debut on CBS’
The Ed Sullivan Show
Volumes have been written about John, Paul, George and Ringo, the four lads from Liverpool who changed youth culture overnight-and just as significantly inspired the rest of the world to embrace new ideas as their own.
With the Beatles, it wasn’t just about the music-although their genius manifested itself in a seismic shift-but also their irreverent outlook, decidedly cool sense of fashion, camera-ready image and irrepressible optimism. The Fab Four played a perfectly timed part in lifting society from the cookie-cutter monotony of the 1950s toward the unbounded idealism and unrepressed attitudes embraced by a generation coming of age in the 1960s.
At the front lines of the mid-’60s British invasion, the Beatles attracted 73 million viewers to The Ed Sullivan Show during their debut performance-45 percent of the U.S. adult population at the time. (During that appearance, CBS superimposed a caveat to young, impressionable fans over John Lennon’s visage: “Sorry, girls-he’s married.”) A week later, they appeared again with Sullivan, this time live via satellite from their Miami Beach hotel.
Suddenly, it was obvious that Beatlemania had stormed our shores. The Beatles had taken the world from shades of gray into a new Technicolor reality. Suddenly, long hair, imagination and individuality were in. Blandness, conformity and closed minds were out.