THE BEATLES INVADE AMERICA
I was one of the 73 million Americans who were tuned into the Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964. We needed it. John Kennedy had been assassinated just 3 months earlier and we were hurting, especially boomers and even more so, the class of 1964.
In those days we studied civics and/or government and JFK was the perfect touchstone or conduit to ignite our interest. He was young, handsome, played touch football, took on challenges, like going to the moon and he turned government from something gray and old to something vital, alive and dynamic. And then he was murdered. It couldn't happen. Not in America. Not to our President. Assassination was something from history not from a modern dynamic on the move America. We were devastated. Hope, dreams, inspiration, beliefs were all shattered by the insanity of Dallas.
Then came the Beatles. We'd heard their music on the radio. It was unlike anything before. We saw their pictures in Newsweek or Time and they looked different. And then they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show.
If you were not apart of the age, it may be hard to understand how a Sunday evening variety show could wield such an influence. But it did and on this day in history it exuded more influence and impact on America than at any other time.
Beatlemania had begun. It was hype to be sure, but there was also an innocence about it. It was the first time the boomers were seen a major demographic block. We were a group to appeal to, but also by the sheer force of our volume, we were a rising power. That power would later awaken and move to matters of race, war and peace, changing popular culture and human rights, but on February 9, 1964 we were kids with broken hearts and dashed hopes who suddenly found pied pipers who thrilled our hearts, moved our feet and bodies and presented something entirely new and exotic. It was the mojo we needed.
From those hysterical moments with mobs outside the theatre, screaming and fainting girls, the music changed us and arguably began an influence on larger history. The playlist that night was I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND, ALL MY LOVING, I SAW HER STANDING THERE, SHE LOVES YOU, TIL THERE WAS YOU.
They were different and on that night so were we.
At the risk of legal peril, I share a series of shot I took from the MOMA in San Francisco during the Avedon exhibition. You can see these elsewhere, but as a further tribute-
as Ed Sullivan said with a stiff bodied wave of the arm "HERE ARE THE BEATLES!"
By the way, cameras were permitted in the exhibition. Sorry the capture is so poor. These are just masterful studies of the four who led us from despair. Look at the eyes.
See you down the trail.