When the Beatles Hit America

Yes, of course I watched the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, along with 73 million other people. I might have even enjoyed it if it weren’t for that incessant screaming.

I’d like to say that I was an instant Beatles convert. I’d LIKE to say that, but it’d be a lie. They were all right, I guess, but being an almost 10-year-old boy, I was annoyed by Beatlemania, and therefore, somewhat, by the Beatles themselves. Indeed, it was Constitutionally mandated in those days that prepubescent boys hate anything that prepubescent girls liked, and vice versa.

But here’s the clever thing. From the Wikipedia: Sullivan “initially offered Beatles manager Brian Epstein top dollar for a single show but the Beatles manager had a better idea—he wanted exposure for his clients: the Beatles would instead appear three times on the show, at bottom dollar, but receive top billing and two spots (opening and closing) on each show… Their first appearance on February 9 is considered a milestone in American pop culture and the beginning of the British Invasion in music… The following week’s show was broadcast from Miami Beach… They were shown on tape February 23 (this appearance had been taped earlier in the day on February 9 before their first live appearance).”

By their third appearance in three weeks, I developed a grudging respect for them. I started differentiating them, with no small bit of Help! from my sister Leslie, who found Paul, a lefty like herself, particularly dreamy.

I never bought an Beatles album or single until the following year, when with the money from my paper route, I could join the Capitol Record Club, though I did make sure I watched their subsequent appearances on Sullivan and elsewhere, usually in video promo clips that predated MTV by a decade and a half.

But before that, my father, like many parents at the time, bought us – more for Leslie – this album:

Leslie was disappointed. I was more horrified that he had made what I thought was such an obvious error.

Now, of course, I have many iterations of Beatle albums, from both the UK and the US, and even one from Italy, plus singles from Japan.
Review of the Beatles at Carnegie Hall, February 1964.

4 thoughts on “When the Beatles Hit America”

  1. ADD- I assume the bottom picture, and Gerry Lewis, of the Playboys. According to the Wikipedia, the Buggs were from Omaha, Nebraska.


  2. I still have a B & W picture somewhere that I took of the Beatle’s first appearance on Ed Sullivan. My parents bought me “Meet the Beatles.” Even THEY were fans until the Fab Four started going hippie.


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