The Beatles 8 O’clock February 9th 1964 And 73 Million People
Sunday night, 8 o’clock on February 9th, 1964, America tuned in to CBS and The Ed Sullivan Show. Not an ordinary Sunday Night.. 73 million people gathered in front of their TV sets to see The Beatles first live in the United States.
What Lead Up To The Ed Sullivan Show Was Amazing
The Beatles, ” I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” was released in the UK in November of 1963. It took 2 weeks to make it to #1. Capitol Records weren’t going to release it here until mid-January but a few sneaky disc jockeys got a hold of the record from airline flight attendants who would smuggle the 45 singles on flights.
Capitol Records tried to stop DJs from playing the record but soon used radio to their advantage and the record sold 250,000 in just days. When it hit #1 on Feb. 1, it stayed at the top for seven weeks.
Paul McCartney and John Lennon allegedly told Brian Epstein their manager, “We’re not going to America till we’ve got a number one record.” But Brian Epstein, in November 1963, committed the Beatles to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on February 9 and 16, 1964.
The Beatles Strategy
The theory was the group didn’t want to come here yet unless they had a number one due to other British bands that came before with songs that were popular but not number one. It wasn’t fair as well when they came to America because of the popularity of Motown and Surfing music that was on the radio. But Brian Epstein knew the Ed Sullivan show would be huge for the Beatles exposure. So he booked the gig.
The Fab Four Arrive At JFK Airport
February 7, 1964, they stepped onto U.S for the first time. As they stepped off their flight from Heathrow Airport in London to John F. Kennedy International Airport, the quartet was greeted by 3000 fans. The screaming fans were everywhere around the terminal. On the roof, tarmac with hundreds of reporters to capture it all for the local and national news.
The Night That Changed America As We Know It
8 o’clock on February 9th 1964, America tuned in to The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS TV. 73 million people gathered in front their TV sets to see The Beatles’ first live performance. The television rating was a record 45.3% of households with televisions were watching. The show garnered a 60 share, meaning 60% of the television’s turned on were tuned in to Ed Sullivan and The Beatles.
The Set List
The Beatles did two sets that night in front of all the screaming teenagers and adults in the theater.
- All My Loving
- Till There Was You
- She Loves You
- I Saw Her Standing There
- I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Ed Sullivan during the performance mentioned to John, Paul, George and Ringo that he received a telegram from Elvis and Colonel Tom Parker with congratulations.
There Were Other Acts That Night On The Same Show
Impressionist Frank Gorshin, acrobats Wells & the Four Fays, the comedy team of McCall & Brill and Broadway star Georgia Brown joined by the cast of “Oliver!”
The Beatles went on to play the Ed Sullivan show a total of four shows and a total of a billion people got to watch on TV. You have to admit a remarkable achievement for Four Lads from Liverpool.