The Beatles Perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 9th, 1964
52 years ago at the end of August 4 young men from Liverpool formed what would one day become the most successful band ever, The Beatles. They probably had no idea at the time where their music would take them, and even today much of their story remains unknown to many people even though their music can be found in all corners of the world.
This week we will chronicle their story (in no great detail), and share with you some of their music that we love.
The Beatles worked hard to develop their style and talents playing for 2 years playing a number of bars in Hamburg. Their hours were grueling, sometimes so that the band would use Preludin to stay awake during all night performances. However, their hard work paid off, and in 1962 the band signed a record deal with EMI in London. Please Please Me (1963), their first album, reached #4 on UK charts and began The Beatles career.
When The Beatles arrived in the US they had already become a huge sensation in the UK, due to a string of very successful albums and singles (“Love Me Do,”, “From Me To You,” and “She Loves You,” to name a few). “I Want To Hold Your Hand,”, their first single released in the US, sold one million copies and became a number one hit before they had ever set foot on American soil.
Early that fall Ed Sullivan was on a trip to the UK. When his plane was forced to circle London’s Heathrow Airport in the middle of the night in order to permit something called The Beatles to land first so that they could be transported safely through thousands of their screaming fans, he decided then and there to sign them for his television show.
The Beatles left the United Kingdom on February 7th, 1964, with an estimated four thousand fans gathered at Heathrow waving and screaming as the aircraft took off. At New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport they were greeted by another uproarious crowd estimated at three thousand. They gave their first live US television performance two days later on The Ed Sullivan Show, watched by approximately 73 million viewers in over 23 million households, or 34 percent of the American population. According to the Nielsen rating service, wrote Gould, it was “the largest audience that had ever been recorded for an American television program.” The next morning critical consensus in the US was generally against the group, but a day later their first US concert saw Beatlemania erupt at Washington Coliseum. Back in New York the following day, they met with another strong reception during two shows at Carnegie Hall. The band then flew to Florida and appeared on the weekly Ed Sullivan Show a second time, before another 70 million viewers, before returning to the UK on February 22nd.