Bringing the Social Conversation to the Forefront
On Sunday, February 9, 1964, The Beatles appeared for the first time on television sets across America.1 Seventy-three million people tuned in to The Ed Sullivan Show at eight o’clock, Eastern Time, to experience the fresh sounds of the hugely anticipated British rock band broadcasting live from New York City on the CBS television network.
As the iconic curtain rose for the 779 time,2 Ed Sullivan welcomed his viewers with news that The Beatles had just received a wire from Elvis Presley wishing them “tremendous success in our country.”3 The 728 audience members, watching the events unfold in person from CBS-TV Studio 50, erupted with loud applause and cheers.
Ed Sullivan took his spot on stage following a commercial break and exclaimed five simple words that would trigger a release of the pent-up excitement of over 23,000 US households: “Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles!” Hysterical screams ensued and held for eight seconds before “All My Loving” (sung by Paul McCartney) kicked off the first of two sets.
It was during the second song, “Till There Was You,” when each of the “Fab Four” was introduced via an onscreen lower third overlay of their first name displayed in bold white block letters. “PAUL” was the first to be introduced and was quickly followed by “RINGO” and then “GEORGE.” As the camera panned over to John Lennon, his name came with a subtitle that read, “SORRY GIRLS, HE’S MARRIED.”4
This episode, ...