by Sean Smith
On February 9, 1964 The Beatles started the British Invasion of American music by playing on The Ed Sullivan Show. Today marks the 53rd anniversary of that historic performance.
When The Beatles made their American live television debut that night, approximately 73 million people tuned in to witness the start of Beatlemania. To put that number in perspective. 60% of all the television sets turned on in the country that night were tuned into The Ed Sullivan Show.
Prior to arriving in America, The Beatles had already made a name for themselves in their home nation of Britain. The Liverpool natives already had a number one album and a pair of number one singles to their credit back across the pond, and were very popular among the younger UK audience.
The story behind how The Beatles got invited to play The Ed Sullivan Show is an interesting one. In October of 1963 Ed Sullivan was at the airport in London when he noticed a large number of enthusiastic young people at the airport. When he inquired into what all the fuss was about, he was told that the large crowd had gathered to welcome back a young popular band called The Beatles who were returning from a Swedish tour. Impressed and motivated by the large number of crazed fans, It is said Sullivan then got in contact with the band’s manager Brian Epstein to set up a potential appearance on his show. An appearance that would first occur on this day 53 years ago.
The Beatles played a total of five songs over a rambunctious studio audience when they made their live American television debut. They played “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and the feature of this week’s edition of #tbt here on Clizbeats “She Love You.”
“She Love You” was a hit in Britain when it was released their in 1963. Well, that’s an understatement. It would become the best selling single of the decade in Britain, and is the best selling single of their career back at home. It was also released as a single in the United States in September of 1963. It did not initially do so well in America. The single received very little radio airplay upon its release and did not even crack the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song, and The Beatles as a group, did not really catch on in America until after a CBS News special profiling the group’s rising stardom in Britain increased American public interest. In January, just a few weeks prior to the performance on Ed Sullivan’s show, “She Loves You” finally broke through and cracked the Hot 100 chart. It would eventually spend a couple weeks at #2 on the chart, behind their other hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” before ultimately reaching the top of the chart for two weeks.
So on this 53rd anniversary of The Beatles first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, and the start of Beatlemania in the U.S., today we take the time to remember their 1963 single “She Loves You.” Enjoy.
“She Loves You”