On this day in 1964, the British band the Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in the USA. This performance, watched by a record 73 million (around 40% of the American population), began the so-called ‘British Invasion’. On February 7th the Beatles had arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport to a crowd of over 4,000. They were beginning to take off in America, with their hit ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ having risen to number 1 in the charts.
At the Ed Sullivan Show, the band performed hits such as ‘All My Loving’ and ‘She Loves You’. The Beatles were already popular in their native Britain, but their success in America forever established them as an internationally famous band. Thus the performance on the Ed Sullivan Show prompted the spread of ‘Beatlemania’ worldwide.
As a self-professed Beatles nut it is hard to contain my glee at celebrating this 50 year milestone. One of the greatest things about the Beatles is their undeniable impact on the history of music. One need not be a fan to appreciate the importance of this anniversary. The Beatles were one of the first bands which, if you forgive me the flowery rhetoric, united the world. 4,000 fans waved them farewell at London’s Heathrow, and 4,000 welcomed them to New York. They had the same avid fanbase in Japan, Germany, India, Australia, the Philippines and many more. Little else had united the cultures of these countries before. I am not saying the Beatles were peacemakers; they were musicians. But music can unite people in its own way.
The Ed Sullivan appearance was 50 years ago today