As the 50th anniversary of their first appearance on national television just past, the evening of their debut go me thinking about that night. It was not a good year having just lost President Kennedy a few months earlier, we as a nation were looking for something else. Something to bring us out of the doldrums of winter and national mourning. With the largest assembly of teenagers ever, the teen-aged baby boomers beginning to make our mark on historical change and movement, the recognition of these British musicians was nothing short of phenonominal. More than 60% of American televisions were tuned to the Ed Sullivan Show that night. Ed Sullivan the most unlikely television hosts ever, had the personality of a pencil, yet he had this ability to recognize talent where others had passed them by and this was one of those finds.
My sister Mary Ellen and I were on the floor in the living room if my memory serves me correctly watching on the “big” console television. It had a remote that weighed about two pounds and was the size of a pound cake. It had buttons on it corresponding to the stations on the dial on the TV. Like 2 then 4, 5, 7 etc., matching the NY television stations. The dial on the television itself was identical and when you depressed one of those huge buttons, all it really did was mechanically turn the tuner dial to the appropriate station. It sounded like a machine gun as it turned channels! The wall to wall deep blue rug in the living room was cushion enough for the both of us to watch as the Beatles took over the country that night. Their music was not calling for revolution, not rebelling against the world, not starting a protest, it was asking to hold your hand. Asking that as a teenager if I fell in love with you, would you promise to be true? There was time later for revolution and talks of world peace. In 1964 we had great music, the promise of Spring just around the corner, and for those of us living on Long Island the summer and the beaches.
The Beatles became a part of our lives because it arrived at that critical juncture, that perfect storm of national sorrow, boomer growth, teenage angst in the early 60s and with them a wave of music and musicians unlike any age has seen before or seen since.
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