Dawn of a rev­o­lu­tion

Rock ’n’ roll was born in the United States, but it was four english chaps who took it out to the world.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - (all by The Bea­tles) > I Want To Hold Your Hand > She Loves You > All My Lov­ing > I Saw Her Stand­ing There > Till There Was You > This Boy > From Me To You > Please Please Me > Twist And Shout > Can’t Buy Me Love I Want To Hold Your

Bea­tles man­ager Brian Ep­stein in or­der to se­cure the band’s ap­pear­ance on his show, which taped in New York City. Sul­li­van wanted huge rat­ings, Ep­stein wanted max­i­mum ex­po­sure for the boys and so they set­tled on a deal that would fea­ture Bea­tles per­for­mances on three con­sec­u­tive episodes. In ad­di­tion, Ep­stein en­sured his band would play at the be­gin­ning and the end of the first show.

It turned out to be a bril­liant de­ci­sion, but this idea of “max­i­mum ex­po­sure” could have re­sulted in over­ex­po­sure for a group that was be­ing in­tro­duced to the big­gest mu­sic au­di­ence in the world. Af­ter all, when Sul­li­van first heard about the Bea­tles, the band was pop­u­lar in Bri­tain but had barely caused a mur­mur on the US pop scene. How­ever, in be­tween the fall of 1963 and Fe­bru­ary 1964, Amer­i­can record la­bel Capi­tol Records agreed to fi­nally re­lease a Bea­tles al­bum. On Jan 20, Meet The Bea­tles! ar­rived in stores, as­sem­bled from parts of the band’s two Bri­tish al­bums, as well as some sin­gles. One of those sin­gles was the surg­ing I Want To Hold Your Hand, a hit in Bri­tain that be­came an ab­so­lute smash in Amer­ica – ris­ing to No. 1 on the pop charts a week be­fore The Bea­tles were to ap­pear on The Ed Sul­li­van Show. Talk about per­fect tim­ing.

In ad­di­tion to Hand, The Bea­tles played four other songs dur­ing their first live ap­pear­ance: All My Lov­ing, Till There Was You, She Loves You and I Saw Her Stand­ing There. The stu­dio au­di­ence went crazy. So did kids all over the United States, who pushed Meet The Bea­tles! to the top of the al­bum charts the next week. Ev­ery­one was talk­ing about the band’s mu­sic, en­ergy, hu­mour and – of course – the boys’ bushy, mop-topped hair­styles.

Over time, The Bea­tles on Ed Sul­li­van has be­come a touchs­tone for Amer­i­cans. In a his­tor­i­cal con­text, the Fab Four’s de­but per­for­mance is of­ten spo­ken about in the same breath as the as­sas­si­na­tion of US Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy in Novem­ber 1963 – a tragic event that many learned of via tele­vi­sion. To paint in broad strokes, the raw ex­cite­ment of The Bea­tles and its mu­sic helped re­store hope and op­ti­mism to a na­tion that was reel­ing from such a dis­turb­ing event.

At the time, rock and roll was only about 10 years old. But by play­ing with such fer­vour, The Bea­tles rein­tro­duced Amer­i­cans (and the world) to the un­in­hib­ited en­ergy of this mu­sic.

Many other like-minded Bri­tish bands – in­clud­ing The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The An­i­mals – fol­lowed in The Bea­tles’ wake and be­came part of “The Bri­tish Invasion” of English groups that took Amer­ica by storm.

The Bea­tles would spend the rest of the 1960s chang­ing mu­sic and cul­ture in all sorts of other ways (pop­u­lar­is­ing stu­dio ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, em­brac­ing East­ern mys­ti­cism and cre­at­ing con­cep­tual works that ex­tended be­yond the three-minute pop sin­gle). But on this night, 50 years ago, 73 mil­lion Amer­i­cans were in­tro­duced to the band’s pri­mal, pow­er­ful brand of rock and roll. Mu­sic would never be the same.

Wa­ter­shed mo­ment: Most amer­i­can mu­si­cians of the time re­mem­ber that ex­act in­stance when The bea­tles ap­peared on their tele­vi­sion sets. – aP

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