Where were you the evening of February 9, 1964?
Ask any senior citizen with a good memory and a heart that still beats (to rock’n’roll, that is) and the most likely answer will be:
“At home watching the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show!!!”
Little did they know it at the time, but the young, screaming, frenzied girls in living rooms across America were just as much a part of TV history that Sunday evening as were Ed, the Fab Four and the nearly hysterical females in the studio audience.
According to 2018 “Chase’s Calendar of Events,” the
“estimated viewership for that night’s show was 73 million people -- making it the most-viewed TV program in history up to that time.”
James Maguire, author of the book, “Impresario -- The Life and Times of Ed Sullivan,” reported that as soon as Sullivan introduced the Beatles…
“...The studio audience experienced spontaneous combustion, giving voice to a full-throated primordial shriek expressing some otherworldly frenzy, equal parts romantic longing, lust and sheer amazement that such creatures as inhabited the stage actually existed…
“The camera panned over this female teenage riot, bouffants and pageboys shaking, arms akimbo and mouths agape, then settled on the Beatles, who, after Paul’s brisk countoff, snapped into the mid-tempo ‘All My Loving’...
“...it appeared possible the foursome might be aliens from another planet designed to drive earthlings batty…The music was all but drowned in audience screams through much of the song, but it didn’t matter; the foursome’s buoyant energy proved able to break through every barrier, social or musical, put before it...
“In the time it took to play three pop songs, America made a tectonic shift toward being a youth-oriented culture. As ‘She Loves You’ ended, the studio audience kept shrieking like the theater was on fire --
which, in a sense, it was…”
Now ask your grandmother how she reacted on that historic night.
A Note on Sources:
The “2019 Chase’s Calendar of Events” and “Impresario -- The Life and Times of Ed Sullivan” by James Maguire (published in 2006 by Billboard Books) are available for checkout at MidPointe Library.