US Beatle invasion remembered
“For many commentators it was a day that changed the world, both musically and culturally.
By Ralph Gowling
The Beatles landed at New York’s JFK Airport on February 7, 1964, to be greeted by hoards of reporters and thousands of screaming female fans.
That night CBS television’s famed news anchorman Walter Cronkite said in a filmed report about The Beatles’ arrival in the US: “The British invasion this time goes by the code name Beatlemania. D-Day has been common knowledge for months, and this was the day.”
Two days later, a record breaking 73 million people in North America gathered in front their television sets for the Ed Sullivan Show to see The Beatles’ first live performance on US soil. The normally pokerfaced Ed Sullivan introduced the group with the words: “Now, yesterday and today, our theatre’s been jammed with newspaper- men 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.”
On that ground breaking show, The Beatles performed five songs: ‘All My Loving’, ‘Till There Was You’, ‘She Loves You’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and finally ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’.
For many commentators, it was a day that changed the world, both musically and culturally. The Beatles’ conquest of America had begun. By early April they had 12 numbers in the US singles charts, including the top five positions.
The two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, have joined star-studded celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary. John Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono, and George Harrison’s wife Olivia, were there too to represent their late husbands.
In an electrifying reunion on stage, Paul and Ringo performed together for the first time in five years at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles late last month. The reunion numbers were ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ and ‘Hey Jude’.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of one of the most historic moments in music and television, CBS television will broadcast “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles” on February 9.
Many top artists, including Stevie Wonder, Peter Frampton, Katy Perry, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, Joe Walsh, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, performed Beatles numbers for the recording.
Meanwhile, Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band are gearing up for a tour of North America from June 6 in Ontario to July 19 in Los Angeles, with stops including Chicago, Dallas and New York.
He will have an All Starr Band of Steve Lukather, Gregg Rolie, Richard Page, Todd Rundgren, Mark Rivera and Gregg Bissonette. This is the 14th edition of the band.
“I love playing with this band, and I can’t wait to get back out and play with them again,” said Ringo, who is also working on a new album. Ringo celebrates his 74th birthday on July 7, and said music had been his life.
“At 13, I was ill, I was in hospital. They gave me a little, teeny drum, and I only ever wanted to do that for the rest of my life.
“And that’s what’s carrying on today, really. The Beatles’ music is still out there, and that’s the thing I’m most proud of.”