Editor's Picks #2

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"It was as if The Beatles had stepped off a spaceship from another planet and arrived in America." (Donovan)

 

"They dropped from the sky on a windy February day, the unlikeliest band of conquerors America had ever seen. Though their music had preceded them by many months, this encounter in the flesh turned out to be nothing short of life-altering for millions of Americans." (AARP)

This February marked the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' seminal first visit to the United States.  Here at Beatles HQ, we've been re-living the occasion via a microsite and Facebook journey through all the significant events that marked the band's rise from relative anonymity in the States to full-scale North American Beatlemania - in a mere two weeks! Check out our diary to read the full story, as well as see original documentary footage and photographs from the time.

 

"What strikes me today, on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, is that if you go back and look at the Beatles on Feb. 9, 1964, when they performed live before an American television audience of 73 million, what you’ll see is trapped in a grainy video time capsule, but the sensation of transcendence that the Beatles incarnated is all right there in front of you." (Popwatch.com)

 

CBS paid tribute to the The Beatles' first Ed Sullivan Show broadcast with a TV special: 'The Night That Changed America', airing on the exact day/date/time as the original show. 

Stevie Wonder, Dave Grohl, Katy Perry, Pharrell, Alicia Keys and Dhani Harrison were just some of the acts who covered the bands' songs on the show, including Something, We Can Work It Out, Yesterday and many more. You can see some of those performances, here

 

“All I remember was an afterglow. The whole experience was a mix of innocence and joyfulness.”  (Condé Nast)

 

Ringo also picked up a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the band, and David Letterman honoured the 50th anniversary through a special interview with Paul and Ringo, and by hosting a selection of performances from acts including Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz and Broken Bells. You can view a selection of the covers and clips from the interview, here.

 

 

"After 'The Ed Sullivan Show,' guitars sold out in the entire country" (Northjersey.com)

 

The Arctic Monkeys gave a nod to the occasion by kicking-off the encore of their New York show with a cover of All My Loving, and iTunes have created a specially dedicated channel that includes a 14 minute clip from the original Ed Sullivan broadcast and the first iTunes offering of the full collection of US Albums; as well as interviews, a spoken-word disc - 'The Beatles' Story' -  and streaming audio. 

 

"It was one of those perfect storm situations where everything about the band was right" (Peter Asher)

 

Time magazine have posted 'A Rare Look At The Origins Of Beatlemania: Watch the Throwback Footage' - an archive film compilation of original news and film from the time.

 

There has been much talk on TV, the web and in the press about the anniversary of the first Beatles Ed Sullivan broadcast and what it meant to the country. On the anniversary, this site said: "Tonight will be the 50th anniversary of the advent of what most people think of as "The Sixties."" (Scholars and Rogues)

And this site… "(Something) pretty much everyone agrees on, whether you are 17, 27, 47 or 77, is that The Beatles’ performance on Ed Sullivan was paramount, legendary, a moment for the ages. The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show is sort of ingrained in the National consciousness and will remain there forever and ever." (Geeks of Doom)

 

AARP asked many acclaimed artists for their memories of the first time they heard The Beatles. We especially loved hearing about Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan's memories of first hearing the band. You can read more from all the artists remembering the first time they heard The Beatles, here:

Bruce Springsteen

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" was the first Beatles song I heard. When you hear something like that, your hair stands on end on your arms, and it's having some strange and voodoolike effect upon you, and you can't figure it out.

I got out of my mother's car, which is where I heard it, and I ran down the street into the bowling alley and immediately into the phone booth, slammed the door behind me and got my girlfriend on the phone. I said, "Have you heard this song?" It stopped your day when it hit. It stopped your day. That just was a nuclear explosion."

Bob Dylan

"I had heard the Beatles in New York when they first hit. Then, when we were driving through Colorado, we had the radio on, and eight of the Top 10 songs were Beatles songs. In Colorado! They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid. But I just kept it to myself that I really dug them. Everybody else thought they were for the teenyboppers, that they were gonna pass right away. But it was obvious to me that they had staying power. I knew they were pointing the direction of where music had to go. In Colorado, I started thinking it was so far out that I couldn't deal with it — eight in the Top 10. This was something that had never happened before. You see, there was a lot of hypocrisy all around, people saying it had to be either folk or rock. But I knew it didn't have to be like that."

"As I ponder the impossible passage of 50 years, I find it easy to slip back inside the skin of an awkward, scrawny teenager dropping the needle on a 45 rpm single, listening for clues to life's mysteries."​ (AARP)

 

"The Beatles had me from the song’s unexpected, opening drumroll; across America thousands, even millions, of girls felt the same. (…) We reacted as one  — as if hypnotized. Willingly and ecstatically. (…) So we won’t be screaming for the Beatles in 2064.  But we’ll still be listening.  And in awe." (Wall Street Journal)

Here at Beatles HQ we had a great February celebrating the 50th anniversary of the bands' first US visit. Their Stateside story may have begun 50 years ago, but it's not over yet.

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The U.S. Albums Box Set

The U.S. Albums Box Set

The U.S. Albums Box Set