Happy Birthday to my dear, sweet, kind, clever, sensitive, creative, intelligent, hard-working, beautiful, perceptive, kick-ass, Belle.  My daughter turned eighteen yesterday.  Yee haw and Yikes, indeed.

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♫ It was twenty years ago today/Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play ♫

BEATLESs

Actually, it was fifty years ago, February 9, when the Beatles made the first of their culture-expanding appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Anyone remember their opening number, without having to cheat (put down that smart phone, right now)? [1]

BEATLESONSULLIVAN

The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show is one of my two strongest watching-TV-with-my-parents memories.  The other happened a couple months earlier, on a night in late November, 1963.  My older sister NLP and I sat stone-faced on the carpet in front of the TV, watching the coverage of President Kennedy’s assassination.  N and I, respectively in grades three and one, did not fully comprehend the significance of what was on the screen before us.  We only knew that our parents seemed really, really sad.

A mere eleven weeks later our family, along with a record number of the TV-viewing public, was once again mesmerized by what was transpiring on our black and white RCA.

TV

We watched the Ed Sullivan show every Sunday, as did most television owning families in the U.S.  And we watched the show in full.  There were no recording devices; there was no taping the show and forwarding through the aftershave commercials or plate-spinning acts.

PLATESPINNING

If you wanted to see the good stuff (for kids, the rare rock ‘n roll act; for their parents, Steve and Eydie ) you had to sit through Frank Gorshin’s political impressions, opera selections, puppet shows – a hodgepodge of vaudevillian-type acts, all introduced by the eponymous host.

Ed Sullivan, with his bloodhound baggy-eyes, peculiar enunciations [2] and leaden body language, looked like a cross between the Adam’s family’s Lurch and Richard Nixon,

Anyone seem my evil twin?

Y’all seen my evil twin?

Here I am!

Here I am!

and was rumored to be the first survivor of a charisma-ectomy.

"We have a really, really big shoe for you tonight"

“We have a really, really big shoe for you tonight”

The Beatles’ first two songs [3] were mid-tempo numbers featuring somewhat “pretty” vocals, including their cover of a song from The Music Man .[4]  Then they lit into “She Loves You,” and the audience – in Sullivan’s theatre and in our living room– went berserk.

I remember our parents trading remarks of astonishment (“Look at their hair!”) while N and I….  Well, my older sister and I rocked out, without even knowing we were rocking out and that our musical tastes were about to dramatically expand.  The Beatles returned later in the show for a second set: “I Saw Her Standing There[5] and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

If you have the slightest bit of interest in history and/or popular culture, I urge you to beg, borrow or steal somehow latch onto any tapes or DVDs of the Beatle’s appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.  Here’s the important part: watch at least one of the entire shows, not just the Beatles’ performances.  From the other entertainment acts to the commercials, TESS will give you a unique time capsule experience, and an appreciation of how much has changed and how mind-bogglingly, effervescently and energetically different the Beatles were at that time.

Oh, and can you imagine being Fred Kaps, the magician who had to follow the Beatles’ first set?

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I had several other items in mind for this blog, but, like Fred Kaps, I’m finding it hard to follow the Beatles with…anything but more Beatles.  So I suggest you push the furniture to the side of the room, do a few stretching exercises if you need to, turn up the volume and let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] It was “All My Lovin’ ”

[2] Ed’s recurrent boast, that he was putting on a “really big show tonight,” often sounded as if he were promising viewers a “really big shoe.”

[4] A tactic which was setting up the old folks, N and I figured.

[5] One of my favorite Beatles songs– you gotta dig McCartney’s one two three fah! opening count.