Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles: When the Fab Four Met Ed Sullivan

The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, Courtesy of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery “Struck by lightning.” That’s how my father describes the sensation of watching The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. “I had never been so excited by any musical group or performance like that.” It’s a definitive event from his childhood — as it was for millions of other Americans — as monumental as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy or the Apollo 11 Moon landing. The next day at school, it was all he and his classmates (and their teachers) wanted to talk about; in the days that followed, he remembers spinning his copy of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” while he and his sisters pretended to be The Beatles, playing along on broomsticks as if they were guitars. [embedded content] Listening to him talk about his memories of that performance 55 years ago, I realize that it can never happen again. The world’s gotten smaller, but the culture’s gotten larger; TVs have more than three channels, and “rock music” is no longer synonymous with “pop music.” It’s impossible now for any musical act, let alone a rock […]