On February 9th, 1964, two days after they had landed in America, The Beatles made their U.S. TV debut on CBS's Ed Sullivan Show., performing five songs including their current American chart-topper, 'I Want To Hold Your Hand.' Over 50,000 applicants were received for the available 728 seats in the TV studio and an estimated 73 million people across the States watched the show (over 40% of the American population). Our boys, John, Paul, George, and Ringo, took America by storm, marking the beginning of Beatlemania in this country!
After a long wait, YouTube has finally made available this infamous performance. One of the best parts of seeing this live footage is hearing The Beatles' fresh sound and raw talent (though Paul is too loud in the mix and John is barely heard). Interestingly, it was Ringo who supposedly came up with the idea to place the drums on high risers for visibility as part of the band.
Not only was their music fun and new, but they were a welcomed diversion in the wake of JFK's assassination just a few months before. And remember, these guys had the longest hair in America (the "moptop"), and their suits were very British and mod. It's easy to forget just what a big deal this band was, musically and socially!
Ed Sullivan chose to have The Beatles perform at the beginning and the end of the program to keep viewership up for the full hour. Another musical act that performed on this same episode was the Broadway cast of the musical Oliver! featuring another Brit, Davy Jones, as the Artful Dodger. This young chap was in awe of The Beatles and their screaming fans, yet it wouldn't be for another two years until Davy would perform before screaming audiences as well with The Monkees (an American band inspired by The Beatles). Talk about a "Daydream Believer" (yuk yuk)!
About 30 seconds into this video, you can see a clip of this performance: