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CBS commemorates Beatles first appearance

Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 23:02

It’s hard to overstate the significance of The Beatles’ first appearance on American television back on Feb. 9, 1964. Not only did it mark the true beginning of “Beatlemania” here is the States, but it served as the catalyst for the so-called “British Invasion.”

On Sunday, CBS, the network which broadcasted “The Ed Sullivan Show” — where The Beatles made their first U.S. television appearance 50 years ago — aired a tribute on the anniversary that featured Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney.

“The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles” was a two and a half-hour salute to arguably the most influential and successful musical group that has ever existed.

Part tribute concert and part retrospective documentary, the special was a thoroughly enjoyable television event full of can’t miss moments for any Beatles fan.

Performances included “All My Loving” and “Ticket to Ride” by Maroon 5, “We Can Work It Out” by Stevie Wonder, “Don’t Let Me Down” by John Mayer and Keith Urban, and “Revolution” by Imagine Dragons.

Each act was introduced by a celebrity who briefly described what “The Beatles” meant to them, including Jeff Bridges and Johnny Depp.

While some of the tribute acts — including Dave Grohl and Jeff Lynne on “Hey Bulldog” and Alicia Keys and John Legend on “Let It Be” — were quite enjoyable, a few efforts weren’t nearly as impressive (Katy Perry’s rendition of “Yesterday” comes to mind).

Of course every tribute performance was a warm-up to the main act. While John Lennon and George Harrison have long since passed, Starr and McCartney were eager to take the stage again.

Starr was first, starting off with “Matchbox,” “Boys,” and “Yellow Submarine.” McCartney followed with “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Get Back,” “Birthday” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The pair then performed “With a Little Help From My Friends” together before finishing off the evening with “Hey Jude,” a fitting if somewhat predictable finale.

Spliced between the musical acts were segments of a David Letterman interview of McCartney and Starr in the Ed Sullivan Theater, the site of both The Beatles’ historic broadcast half a century ago and the home of Letterman’s “Late Show.” In these pieces, the two music legends reminisced about returning to New York and their memories of the studio.

Additionally, footage from the actual broadcast of “The Ed Sullivan Show” was aired along with short interviews with members of the studio audience from the historic performance.

If the special proved anything, it’s that The Beatles still strike a special chord with audiences over half a century after their arrival. From generation to generation, across the universe, their legacy lives on.

 

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