Fans Mark 50 Years of US Beatlemania
by Carla Babb
On February 9, 1964, the Beatles made their U.S. television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Millions of viewers rocked to the performance that sparked a musical revolution. In fact, Nielsen ratings say nearly half of all U.S. television sets in use at the time were tuned in to the broadcast of the variety show.
Fifty years after Beatlemania began, tributes to the band can be seen from the Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles to JFK International Airport in New York, where the band first landed on American soil.
Karen Gromada, a teenager when the Beatles hit it big, showed up at JFK Airport with a poster of band member Paul McCartney in hand to celebrate the anniversary.
"I was watching the TV that night on the 9th and taking pictures of the TV as a 13-year-old just rapt," Gromada said. "I've been a fan always."
Others at the JFK anniversary celebration included John Lennon's sister, Julia Baird, and Jillian L'Eplatenier, one of the Pan Am flight attendants on the Beatles' first flight to New York.
"The guys were nice, very pleasant and mannerly," L'Eplatenier recalls of the flight, "but we didn't get a chance to talk to them much because they were up running around taking pictures of the crew and everyone else. And it was like, 'Would you please sit down because we have a cart service to do!'"
The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, 9th February 1964
February 9, 1964:
With George's bad throat now, thankfully, better; at 8pm on Sunday 9th February, 1964, the live broadcast of the first Ed Sullivan Show was aired with the full Beatle line-up. The band played five songs (All My Loving, Till There Was You, She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There and I Want To Hold Your Hand) and made broadcasting history.
Paul: "Seventy-three million people were reported to have watched the first show. It is still supposed to be one of the largest viewing audiences ever in the States."
Three other British acts completed the show's schedule - 'The British Invasion' was now well under way. By this point, The Beatles were better able to comprehend the phenomenon of their success, in part because Elvis himself had just publicly congratulated them...
George: "We were aware that Ed Sullivan was the big one because we got a telegram from Elvis and the Colonel. And I've heard that while the show was on there were no reported crimes, or very few. When The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, even the criminals had a rest for ten minutes."