40 Years Ago Monday: We Meet Beatles
It was black and white, and watched all over.
In the days before color television, on the evening of Feb. 9, 1964, the Beatles appeared live in the living rooms of 78 million Americans via “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
That was four out of every 10 Americans, 19.5 million people apiece for John, Paul, George and Ringo. The Sunday night shindig incited a massive pop culture upheaval, inexorably altering music and television while launching what became the ‘60s counterculture.
Those iconic snapshots remain familiar today: The Beatles in matching suits -- and hairstyles. Paul McCartney and George Harrison sharing vocals and a microphone. The band, thanking the audience with a well-rehearsed bow.
The Sullivan show received 50,000 requests for tickets, but its Broadway theater -- now the home of late night host David Letterman -- held just 728 people.
Beatlemania was in full roar, thanks mostly to screaming young girls.
In an America without cable television or pay-per-view or niche audiences, there was just one place to see them: the Sullivan show.
The Beatles would do four more Sullivan gigs, none more important than the first.