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Share your memories of Beatles on ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ 50 years ago

THE BEATLESCBS is calling it’s upcoming special about the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9 1964 “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles.” The question is whether or not seeing the Beatles perform on the CBS variety show changed you.

A record setting 74 million people watched Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr perform “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” That means the odds are high those of you who are over the age of 50 were sitting in front of the television watching musical history being made. Please please me and share your memories of the show.

Fresno’s Diane Daniels, who was 14 when the show originally aired, recalls vividly sitting with her entire family — including her grandmother who was living with them at the time — gathering in the living room to watch the program. She was already a fan of the Fab Four through their records and radio play.

“My mother said how terrible it was they had long hair. All they had were bangs,” Daniels, whose favorite Beatle is Paul, says.

She was living in Fremont at the time and begged her parents to buy her a ticket to see the Beatles when the appeared at the Cow Palace in San Francisco six months later. They forked over the $8.50 for the ticket and Daniels and her best friend, Joanne, arrived at the venue at 8 a.m. — 12 hours before the show.

“It’s the happiest memory in my life including my wedding,” Daniels says.

Warren Auernheimer, general manager Spinners Records in the Tower District was in the third grade when the big event happened.

“I don’t remember that performance but I do remember my mom letting me stay up to watch it. My mom was a big Beatles fan and knew everything about them. My dad was also into music because he designed and built stereo equipment so we always had music on in the house,” Aubrnhdimer says.

Tom Whitlock, general manager of Clovis’ Whitcomm Electronics, was 9 when the show aired. His memories of the telecast are more of his parents than of the performance.

“I remember them singing ‘She Loves You’ and my parents flipping out over their long hair and the music. Their eyes were as big as saucers and their jaws dropped,” Whitlock says. He pauses and then adds, “I also remember the girls screaming.”

The music that caused his parents such grief became a huge part of Whitlock’s life as he helped launch KFIG radio in the ‘70s. The Beatles were part of the Album Oriented Rick format played on the station.

Many of you may have been moved to a frenzy later on as the performance have been released and re-released on video and DVD. Either way, I am looking for you to share your memories of that historical day. Please take a trip down music melody lane with a comment.

As for the continuing popularity of the Beatles, the recent Grammy telecast — that featured a performance by McCartney and Starr — was the second most watched Grammys in 21 years with 28.5 million viewers. The two-hour CBS special was taped the night after Grammys and will feature today’s top artists covering the songs performed by the Beatles on that momentous evening along with other Beatles songs through the years. There also will be as footage from that landmark Sunday evening and other archival material.

Responses to "Share your memories of Beatles on ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ 50 years ago"

blake says:

I am told that I was in the room at the time. My family watched it. My older sister was a fan from the start (the passing down of some of those early LPs was a great influence on my life). I wish I could say I ‘watched’ this telecast, but who knows. I was maybe in a crib, or on someone’s lap…I hope I wasn’t asleep!

linda meier says:

In Feb 1964, I was 15 years old…………I distincly REMEMBER seeing them on Ed Sullivan both SUnday nites………..I WAS IN LOVE with all of them! As I still AM, at 65 years old..

Rod Coburn says:

I spent the summer of ’63 in England as a participant in Fresno State’s People-to-People program. The family I stayed with in Oxford, through their teenage daughter, introduced me to the ‘hot’ new English musical band, the Beatles. I loved them!!! Upon returning to school, I unsuccessfully attempted to buy Beatle records for our fraternity parties. They were unknown here. Six months later they were known and I eagerly watched the show, smuggly knowing I knew of them first.

Judith Palmer says:

They were definitely different. I love some of their songs but I have a nephew who loves them and is going to their tribute concert for his birthday. Their memory has definitely continued. Do not care for the music they have done individually at all but then everyone has their own tastes.

Liberty Blair says:

I was 16 when the Beatles came to America. On the night they were to appear on the Ed Sullivan show, I was walking down a rural road to a girlfriend’s house to watch with her. A large German Shepherd sitting on a porch on the other side of the road suddenly ran to me, got between my legs and grabbed the inner part of my right leg above the knee. I was not a big person and this dog shook me like a rag doll. I fought it off with my purse and it finally let go and went back to the porch. I was so intent on seeing the Beatles that I continued to my girlfriend’s house and without saying anything about the dog, watched the show. We were sitting right in front of the tv and when I got up after the show, there was a puddle of blood on the floor. My girlfriend’s mom asked me what happened, I told her and she called my family. The police came and got the dog who subsequently was found to have rabies. I had to have the 32 shots in my stomach… ouch!…and I still have the scar. Anyway, even without the dog incident, I would remember that wonderful night with the Beatles forever. The dog just made it that much more “interesting.”

Julie Davis Canter says:

Backstage With the Beatles at The Ed Sullivan Show

I remember my mother tightly holding my hand, almost pulling me up as we climbed the dimly lit metal stairs. We were on a landing between floors when we ran right into them. They all stopped for a moment, bubbly, euphoric, perhaps a bit startled to find anyone in the stairwell. But I was harmless. At seven years old, I was much younger than the screaming fans in the theater and certainly not old enough to even consider grabbing at their hair or clothes, much less truly comprehend how momentous this was. I had them almost to myself in the recesses of the building that, years later, would be renamed the Ed Sullivan Theater.

“Hello, Julie,” John said with a sweetness that mindboggling stardom hadn’t yet erased. He had quickly read the huge name button pinned to my coat, a fad held over from the ’50s. They were between sets on The Ed Sullivan Show and making their way back to the stage from their dressing room, my mother’s intended destination.

Our personal “Meet The Beatles” mission accomplished, my mother decided we could go back to the wings where we had been standing, hopefully without incident. She had told my father and me that, at the dress rehearsal the day before, Mr. Sullivan yelled at her for getting in the way. Not that she was particularly bothered by it–she just didn’t want a repeat. I had seen the photos many times growing up—my mother, on the stage in her polka dot wool dress and her Jackie Kennedy bouffant, and Ed, his outstretched arm directing her to move along.

My mother had chutzpah, part of her birthright. A writer for a fan magazine that sounded just enough like Ladies Home Journal to get her on press lists, she had no qualms about interviewing anyone and making her way to the head of the line to do so. She had been on a press junket to the White House just days before President Kennedy was assassinated. She was on the tarmac when the Beatles landed and came home with one of their roses.

She was still Rochelle Davis then and her first humor book had just come out, a political parody called Happiness Is a Rat Fink, a decidedly dark yet funny riff on Charles Schulz’ bestseller Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, with the same hot pink cover. She had already gotten the Beatles to sign a copy for me. Well, John, Paul and Ringo–no George. His absence at the rehearsal hadn’t been explained and, in fact, it took the publication of Bob Spitz’s Beatles biography for me to find out that he had skipped the session to rest a sore throat.

Just 28 years old at the time, she must have been as starstruck by the Fab Four as I was, but she found a way to balance that with the gravitas she probably thought she needed to display as a parent. Thinking back, it seems as though she shared the Beatles with me like a friend would. We were cohorts in this escapade and forever after, no longer just mother and child, a relationship she was less comfortable with.

In the hysteria inside the theater that day, there was no way to actually hear the Beatles perform. So my mother took me to see them at Carnegie Hall a few days later. When she couldn’t scavenge two press seats, she gave me hers, which was on stage right. From my chair, I could hear the Beatles, but see only Ringo’s face and only in profile. The others had their backs to me, their bodies outlined with the glow from all the lights, another image I would never forget.

I wasn’t an innately precocious kid. It was more that my mother exposed me to the world in real time and scale. Not just the Beatles, but also Motown and all of soul music, which would be the subject of her first non-fiction book. She sent me to a French language school so that I wouldn’t be limited by an American-only education (to this day, my husband delights in telling people they can ask me any questions they’d like about 1789, but not to bother with 1776). She soon joined the Congress on Racial Equality and told me about injustice that had to be overcome. Practicing what she preached, she divorced my father after she fell in love with a Black musician and became Rochelle Larkin. We ate at the original Red Rooster when he was playing in Harlem and we kept a map of the United States marked with adhesive dots for every race riot that took place in the ’60s. Soon I had two little brothers and I fought bigotry on our own block, from our super and his kids. Fortunately familiarity bred détente.

I didn’t always appreciate these gifts, the hundreds of moments my mother insisted I share, like taking me to meet Abbie Hoffman in a dark alley so he could give her a manuscript to publish when he was still underground or her giving me my first book assignment when I was 16 because she had moved on to a more exciting project. I had Auntie Mame when I thought I wanted Donna Reed.

Of all our adventures, I always come back to the Beatles. The night before a business meeting some years ago, everyone but me had watched a compilation of the greatest moments on TV. Guess what was number one, my colleague Pete said. There could only be one right answer. And I was there for it…because of my mother.

Julie’s latest children’s picture book series, Waddley Sees The World, was just published by RedSkyPresents.

Dwayne Auernheimer says:

Just a note: “Warren Aubrnhdimer” is “Warren AUERNHEIMER” — Let’s PLEASE get this corrected.

AmyBeth says:

I saw THE BEATLES concert at Suffolk Downs! Wish that I could find the blue ticket…..I was a screaming teen at the time got on the bus with my parents & bro from Providence to Boston as a Magical Mystery Tour…..all were singing BEATLES songs & carry We Love You signs! Murray the K was MC the Crystals & The Cyrcle opened for them…….I got Paul & John’s attention waved to me in my mini skit & Twiggy haircut wt hoop earrings… bro got to shake hands with George as the limo passed by after the concert!! The mounted police could not hold us back! LOL

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