Tuesday, 11 February 2014


Talk about a coincidences, last week I wrote a short piece on my Facebook commemorating 50 years ago this month, February 9th, 1964, that The Beatles, made their first American television appearance—LIVE—on The Ed Sullivan Show. In the weeks leading up to the performance, several Beatles records had already hit number one on the U.S. charts, and the radio airwaves were saturated with their tunes. A record setting 73 million people tuned in that evening making it one of the seminal moments in television history. Nearly fifty years later, people still remember exactly where they were the night The Beatles stepped onto Ed Sullivan’s stage.

I remember having Sid Bernstein as a guest on my radio show, Sid was responsible for putting the Beatles on at Shea Stadium the worlds first ever stadium show attracting a record 55,000 to see the Beatles, up to then the largest crowed the Beatles had played to was around 2,500. Brian Epstein thought Sid was mad thinking the Beatles could fill Shea, how wrong he was!!, Bernstein related the story to me how Ed Sullivan came across the Beatles. It was 1963, while arriving at London’s Heathrow airport, Ed Sullivan and his wife Sylvia encountered thousands of youngsters waiting excitedly in the rain. When Sullivan asked what all the commotion was about, he was told that a British band named The Beatles was returning home from a tour in Sweden. When he got to his hotel room, Sullivan purportedly inquired about booking the group for his show.

However, it was not until later that year that The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein reached an agreement with Ed Sullivan to bring the group to America to perform live for the first time on U.S. television. Epstein stood by his word that the Beatles wouldn’t play America until they had a hit record and that happened late in '63 with I Want To Hold Your Hand. It was in fact December 26, 1963, the Beatles record company Capitol dropped the album ahead of schedule. The record sold 250,000 copies in the first three days. By January 10, 1964 it had sold over one million units and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the number one song on the Billboard charts by month’s end. In the weeks leading up to The Beatles’ performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Beatlemania went viral.
The Beatles touched down at New York’s Kennedy Airport on February 7th, 1964. They were met by a throng of reporters and a hoard of three thousand screaming fans. Upon disembarking the plane, The Beatles were whisked to a press conference hosted by Capitol Records in which they playfully answered questions from the media.
When asked “How do you find America?” Ringo Starr jokingly replied, “Turn left at Greenland.”
As the big day approached it was reported that over 50,000 requests for seats came into CBS. However, The Ed Sullivan Show, could only accommodate an audience of 700. At 8 o’clock on February 9th 1964, America tuned in to CBS and The Ed Sullivan Show. But this night was different. 73 million people gathered in front their TV sets to see The Beatles’ first live performance on U.S. soil. The television rating was a record-setting 45.3, meaning that 45.3% of households with televisions were watching. That figure reflected a total of 23,240,000 American homes. The show garnered a 60 share, meaning 60% of the television’s turned on were tuned in to Ed Sullivan and The Beatles. The hour-long broadcast concluded with The Beatles singing two more of their hits, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to the delight of the fans in attendance and those watching at home. The show was a huge television success. As hard as it is to imagine, over 40% of every man, woman and child living in America had watched The Beatles on Sullivan.

And this is where this story for me becomes slightly personal because what I didn’t know was a long lost cousin of mine was reading my Facebook when she read the piece about the Beatles not only did it prompt her to get in touch with me but she was the 3rd girl from the right at the very show!!
Talk about a small world. She is Naomi Brier Flynn, when my grandfather ended up in Ireland his sister ended up in America and it’s the American side of the Boland family Naomi belongs to, although we have never met it took a posting on my Facebook about the Beatles that prompted her to get in touch!!!!

Just shows you what a small world we live in.

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