Yahoo is publishing first-person accounts from Americans who remember when the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan show helped spark a change in tone, attitude and culture across the nation. To coincide with the 50th anniversary of that seminal event, we asked them to recount the era: What life was like in February 1964 in their communities? How did the Beatles began to change culture? Here’s one story.
FIRST PERSON | I was set to bound up the stairs to my bedroom when my dad called from the sofa.
“The Beatles are on TV. Don’t you want to watch?”
“The what?” I replied. “Beetles?” At 15 I would rather die than watch boring old Ed Sullivan with my parents, a variety show featuring opera singers, comedians and ventriloquists.
I plopped down next to Dad and watched as the “Beat”les performed before Ed’s audience of screaming, hysterical teen girls. Now I see how at that moment the Beatles endeared themselves to America. They represented every mother’s dream for her dating teenage daughter: slender young men in neat suits who didn’t writhe on stage like Elvis, but instead sang happy love songs in charming British accents, shaking shaggy heads, finishing with a polite bow. I wasn’t impressed, but my 35-year-old mother was awestruck.
That night I wrote in my diary:
Sunday, February 9
The Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show tonight. They’re really different. Their haircuts are out of this world. I don’t think they’ll last long though.
Boy, was I wrong! The next day at Minerva DeLand High School, Fairport, N.Y.:
Monday, February 10
All the kids and teachers were talking about the Beatles. Ten of their songs are in the Top Twenty.
Almost immediately we started imitating them:
Tuesday, February 11
After church meeting tonight, everyone was acting like the Beatles. The boys wore their hair in a fringe, and we played two Beatle albums.
An enterprising classmate sold Beatles’ photos at school, snapped off the Ed Sullivan Show:
Tuesday, February 18
We talked about the Beatles in English. I bought two photos from E., one of Paul, one of John.
The Beatles invaded America at the perfect moment. We were still in shock from JFK’s assassination a few months before. Then Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK’s accused assassin, as America watched. The Beatles, with their sweet love songs and silly banter, gave us a reprieve from the violence.
Tuesday, February 25
Today was George Harrison’s birthday. We sang “Happy Birthday” to him at lunch.