This really isn’t about models, but most people know I am a bit of a Beatles fan.
50 years ago tonight, the world changed and I don’t remember a thing about it. Of course, I was barely 15 months old. The Ed Sullivan Show was a Sunday night ritual for much of America. Some of my earliest television memories are of watching Topo Gigio, the Muppets, and an assortment of acrobats spinning plates on tall sticks on that program. Ed Sullivan left a lasting impression on viewers and a kid like me. His delivery was deadpan, his appearance was unique, and the “tonight’s really big shoe” was an unmistakable trademark.
Ed Sullivan popularized Elvis in the 50’s and later the Jackson 5 in the 70’s. He presented everyone from Buddy Holly to the Rolling Stones, but it was a variety show, and that meant pop music was just a small part of the presentation. Many standup comics got their big breaks on the Sullivan show. George Carlin, Jackie Mason, Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield and Carol Burnett are just a few of the comedians that performed. His show featured opera greats like Maria Callas and Beverly Sills. There were dance performances by Rudof Nureyev and the Joffrey Ballet. Broadway show hits featured the likes of Richard Burton and Julie Andrews from Camelot. The Ed Sullivan Show was really the best of the best in entertainment.
Now yesterday and today, our theater’s been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation and these veterans agreed with me that the city has never witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool, who call themselves the Beatles. Now tonight, you’re going to be twice entertained by them, right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlement… the BEATLES!
The Beatles on Sullivan signaled the start of the “British Invasion” and sent the Beatles to the top of the record charts in the USA. Meet the Beatles and I Want to Hold Your Hand zoomed to the number one positions in the following week. With the powerhouse hits from Lennon and McCartney like From Me To You and She Loves You, and embraceable personalities and charm, the Beatles became superstars.
So much has been written about the Beatles, but it boils down to the basics. These were talented, innovative musicians and performers who repeatedly were able to catch the wave of popular music. From Please Please Me to Let It Be and beyond. Band on the Run, My Sweet Lord, Photograph, Imagine, up through the Double Fantasy, Cloud 9, Flowers in the Dirt, the Traveling Wilburys and Cirque du Soleil’s Love. We will never forget John, Paul, George and Ringo.
As I noted before, I was just too young in 1964 to know the Beatles. My first exposure to them was the cartoons on Saturday morning and later Yellow Submarine. I know my parents were watching on February 9, 1964, and so by default, I was there. My sister was born a month later in March and on the first page of her baby book, my mother wrote “The Beatles are America’s number one group.”
Play it loud.