February 9

1964

The Beatles’ first appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show”.

With so few entertainment choices, in the 1960s popular culture was still relatively uniform. It had not finished dividing into the many sub-categories we endure today; a television variety program like Ed Sullivan’s could attract a multi-generational audience with a variety of performers ranging from night-club crooners, Chinese plate-spinners, Mexican ventriloquists, borscht-belt comedians, and rock musicians.

The British Invasion that was changing the sound of pop music was led by those four lovable mop-topped lads from Liverpool, the Beatles. By early 1964, their hold on youth was so strong that my church youth group was resigned to letting us teenagers go home early to watch their first North American tv appearance. I sat on the polyester rug in our living room and sang along while my parents watched, manifestly unimpressed.

In the end, Sullivan’s show lost its appeal to those advertisers seeking to court the youth market and his show was cancelled in 1971.

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