The Beatles on Ed Sullivan

The Beatles with TV host Ed Sullivan during their first appearance on his show in February 1964
The Beatles with TV host Ed Sullivan during their first appearance on his show in February 1964

Date taken: February 9, 1964
Location: NYC, New York, USA

Photographer: CBS Television
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Historical Context

In February 1964 the Beatles' popularity in the United States was reaching fever pitch as they prepared to make their live American television debut on the Ed Sullivan show.

Beatlemania had already gripped the UK in the previous year. When the Fab Four arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport (newly renamed after his assassination eleven weeks earlier) they were greeted by a roaring crowd of around 4,000 fans and 200 journalists. Paul McCartney later recalled being in the car on the way to the hotel and listening on the radio to a news program narrating their car journey.

On 9 February the Beatles performed for the first time on Ed Sullivan. Around 73 million viewers watched their performance which, at the time, was the most-watched program in American television history. From there the Beatles domination of the music market began - and the rest is history.

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