When the Beatles Changed Everything on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’
The world of rock music – and American culture in general – was turned upside down on Feb. 9, 1964, by the Beatles' debut performance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The seeds planted by the event would soon grow out of control, and things would never be the same again. As it's been described by more than one observer: Before John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the world was in black and white; after them, it was in technicolor.
The Beatles arrived in the U.S. on Feb. 7, and within 48 hours or so, a new era in youth culture would begin. They first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9 for what would be the first of three consecutive weekly appearances. Watched by more than 73 million viewers, it has long been mentioned as one of those "Where were you when ... ?" moments in history, and with "I Want to Hold Your Hand" sitting on top of the U.S. charts, "Beatlemania" had begun.
READ MORE: Every Beatles Song Ranked
The band performed five songs: "All My Loving," "Till There Was You," "She Loves You," "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." All except "She Loves You" would appear on their first album for Capitol Records, Meet the Beatles!, released a couple of weeks after this appearance. Oh, and just for the record, it was live, not lip-synced.
Watch the Beatles on 'The Ed Sullivan Show'
The Beatles would transcend mere pop culture in ways never dreamed of before. They inspired countless kids to pick up instruments and start bands, leading to the rock and roll revolution that was the '60s and '70s. The impact of this simple event is still felt to this day.
Who Was Inspired by the Beatles' 'Ed Sullivan Show' Appearance?
Need proof? Tom Petty, Billy Joel, Kiss and Aerosmith are just a few of the artists who recall how much this day meant. In the below video, Styx, Foreigner and Don Felder trade stories about the Fab Four's arrival and its impact.
Beatles Albums Ranked
Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci