One of the biggest events in TV history occurred on February 9, 1964.
After landing at New York’s JFK Airport two days prior, The Beatles made their American television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Sullivan introduced The Beatles by saying the following:
“Now yesterday and today our theater’s been jammed with newspapermen 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. Now tonight, you’re gonna twice be entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles! Let’s bring them on.”
Getting a ticket for The Beatles’ first performance was really hard to come by. The Ed Sullivan website states that many celebrities called CBS to get tickets for their children. Among the celebrities to snag tickets for their children were Walter Cronkite, Jack Paar and Richard Nixon. Composer Leonard Bernstein attempted to get tickets but was denied. Even Sullivan joked on his show a week before this legendary performance, “Coincidentally, if anyone has a ticket for The Beatles on our show next Sunday, could I please borrow it? We need it very badly.”
The impact of this moment is something Paul McCartney has talked about on the podcast McCartney: A Life in Lyrics. Sir Paul explains how many people have told him they decided to pursue music after seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.
“Our current manager of Beatles’ Apple Records says that, Bruce Springsteen says that, David Letterman says that,” said McCartney. “They all formed on that night … this future for themselves.”
To honor this iconic moment in pop culture history, here are some statistics every music lover should know.