The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show -- all over again.
I've seen it hundreds of times -- on so many TV specials, on YouTube videos. It's exciting every time I watch it.
CBS has a 90-minute special Sunday night it is calling The Beatles: The Night That Changed America -- A Grammy Special. I am sure you've seen it promoted a time or two the last couple of weeks.
Starts at 7 p.m. (Central time) on Feb. 9, just as it did in 1964.
What a night that was. I fell in love with those four "youngsters from Liverpool," as Ed Sullivan said in his intro, and I've never stopped loving them.
Which puts me in select company -- with millions and millions of people.
Here's my opinion: It was the second greatest moment/event in television history. The only one better, a little more than five years later -- July 20, 1969 -- was the night two men first stepped on the moon.
John, Paul, George and Ringo. Gosh, I love writing that. So familiar to us all ... well, those of us who were kids/teenagers in the 1960s.
A lot of us -- maybe most of us -- already loved rock and roll, but The Beatles took it out of sight. Suddenly, Elvis -- the king since his own early Sullivan appearances in 1956 -- had challengers for the No. 1 spot in the genre.
Yes, The Beatles started a revolution ... to use the title of one of their songs from later in the decade.
Their songs -- with such simple lyrics at first -- were so catchy, so fresh, so upbeat ... so different.
Best I recall, we began hearing the songs on the radio -- I Want to Hold Your Hand, She Loves You and Please, Please Me at first in late 1963/early 1964.
By that time, they were already giant stars in Germany and Great Britain. We had never even seen their pictures in the newspaper, but many of the kids at school were talking about the songs and then the word spread: They were coming to the U.S., they were going to be on the Sullivan show.
|Here they were -- "these youngsters from Liverpool" and Mr. Sullivan|
(Photo Express Newspapers/Getty Images ... taken from dfw.cbslocal.com)
"Now yesterday and today, our theater's been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that this city never has witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves The Beatles. Now tonight, you're gonna twice be entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show.
"Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles! Let's bring them on."
But you couldn't really here the "let's bring them on" part for the screaming of the girls in the audience.
And there they were, with their mop tops -- that hair was SO long for those days -- and their mod suits, and their slightly goofy behavior. And, man, so many adults were just outraged.
We loved it. We loved them. They were funny, with flippant wisecracks. Who knew how great their talent would prove to be, how much they would change, how serious they were about their music, how John and Paul would prove to be among the world's greatest songwriters.
It is no accident that the first song they played, All My Loving, was maybe my favorite Beatles song forever. Plus, I also loved the second one, Till There Was You, which Paul had explained in a Royal Variety Performance in Britain the year before was from The Music Man and "recorded by our favorite American group, Sophie Tucker."
I could go on and on about that first Sullivan show and their appearances the next two weeks. But if you want more, here's a link: http://www.edsullivan.com/artists/the-beatles/
I know this: That Monday, The Beatles is about all anyone wanted to talk about at school.
For those seven years or so, we relished almost every new song/album they released. The silly A Hard Day's Night and Help! movies were classics, at least to us.
Actually, I never saw A Hard Day's Night until many years later; I think the reviews were bad and I wasn't that interested. But Help! came out during our years at Louisiana Tech and Ken Liberto -- my great friend and perhaps a bigger Beatles fan than me -- said we should go see it in the theater in Ruston. So we did.
Ken liked it so much, we went to see it again the next week. He had -- as I've written before -- his own lyrics to some of the songs.
At home, we must've had seven Beatles albums -- my sister Elsa also loved them -- and the first one was Meet The Beatles (their second album released in the U.S.). But it got scratched up, and there's a story there.
In high school, I didn't attend dances or plays or many school functions (other than athletics). But for a program at school one night, the cheerleaders needed a Beatles album. For some reason -- I think it was because a cheerleader was the girlfriend of one of our star athletes, Trey Prather, they asked if they could borrow my Meet The Beatles album.
I must've told Trey about the album and he told Barbara, and so that's how Barbara and another cheerleader came to my house.
But when they brought the record back the next day, a portion of it was badly scratched ... right on the song All My Loving. I never did tell them about that. So someone let Barbara know she owes me an intact Meet The Beatles album.
In 50 years, this has never changed: Every time I've seen Paul or Ringo on television, or the clips with John and George -- both of them gone too soon; John gone way too soon -- I've stopped and watched. And I still get a thrill watching them perform or listening to them.
About John's murder -- Dec. 8, 1980. We were living in Hawaii; I was working at The Honolulu Advertiser. After Lennon's death was announced and it became known that the shooter, Mark David Chapman, had been a Hawaii resident for the past couple of years, the newspaper staff went to work.
By the next day, they practically had his life story and dozens of angles/stories from people who had known Chapman there. It was as fine a job of journalism as any publication I was associated with in my 40-plus years of newspapering.
One of Paul's many tour stops in the past couple of decades was at American Airlines Center in Dallas a few years ago. We didn't make that one -- too many people, too high a price -- but we did attend one of the dozen Ringo All-Starr Band tour stops in Grand Prairie in 2006, tickets obtained through a KERA (public television) donation.
Ringo was not only fabulous, but extremely generous with his touring partners.
I first heard about this Sunday's show during the Grammys a couple of weeks ago when Paul and Ringo not only had front-row seats, but also performed individually and then -- great thrill again -- together near the end of the show.
I was thinking during those Grammys of the kids of today ... did they know these guys? Do they really know how big The Beatles were? Do they know they are legends?
I mean, I had never heard of Bruno Mars before that night and, damn, what about those guys wearing the space suits? Do you suppose that was really Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wearing those helmets?
Daft Punk? C'mon. (I had to look up the name, OK. I really wasn't paying that much attention once Paul and Ringo left the stage.)
But I can tell you one kid -- well, she's not exactly a kid anymore -- who fell in love with The Beatles. Our Rachel became a Beatles expert in the mid-1990s when she was a teenager ... after watching The Beatles Anthology, a six-part series.
Rachel is an expert on John Lennon. She knows the songs, she knows the history. I know that In My Life is one of her favorite tunes.
Guarantee you, Rachel knows more about The Beatles than a lot of people, certainly more than her mother and dad.
But we were there at the beginning. We saw that first Sullivan show. We were watching on the night that changed America. And now, it will seem just like Yesterday, we can see it again ... and enjoy it just as much as ever.
Yeah, yeah, yeah ... YEAH.