The Beatles perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show": Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr (l-r) (AP Photo)
LOVE the Beatles? On Sunday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m. CBS will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' legendary U.S. debut performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
This two and a half hour event will feature the biggest names in music today performing songs from the original telecast in February 1964 as well as other Beatles' classics. This show will be broadcast exactly 50 years to the day, date and time of the original broadcast, which is considered one of the most historic live events in music and television!
For a band with such a seismic influence on music and popular culture, The Beatles had a comparatively short life. USA TODAY's Marco R. della Cava identifies the eight moments that mattered most.
1 Paul meets John
On July 6, 1957, Paul McCartney, 15, turned up at a fair in honor of the Rose Queen at St. Peter's Church in Liverpool. There, he met 16-year-old John Lennon, who had taken the stage with a few mates to hammer out skiffle songs. He would soon be asked to join Lennon's band, The Quarrymen, thereby founding one of the greatest songwriting partnerships of all time.
2 The Beatles sign with Brian
Although The Beatles had logged long hours playing to enthralled fans in Hamburg and Liverpool, they hadn't arrived until the scion of a family record-store chain, Brian Epstein, took note of their talent and signed them to a management contract in January 1962. Epstein went on to guide the lads' looks and public relations blitz, earning him "fifth Beatle" praise from Paul McCartney. Epstein died of an accidental drug overdose in 1967.
The Beatles prep for the British TV show 'Big Night' Out on Feb. 23, 1964 with Ringo as drummer.(Photo: Jim Gray, Getty Images)
3 Ringo replaces Pete
The earliest incarnation of The Beatles featured drummer Pete Best. The Liverpudlian's run lasted from 1960 to 1962, when he was replaced by another experienced regular on the local music scene, Ringo Starr. The reasons for Best's dismissal date to The Beatles' first sessions at Abbey Road Studios, where producer George Martin criticized the band's backbeat. Ultimately, Starr's quirky, cheerful personality proved to be among the greatest contributions to the Fab Four's success.
4 The recording of 'Love Me Do'
Released on Oct. 5, 1962, The Beatles' first single was the flash of lightning before a raging storm. Though the song itself, a simple Lennon-McCartney ditty, doesn't stand up against later work, the choice of Love Me Do as a debut single speaks volumes about the band's faith in its own material.
5 First 'Ed Sullivan Show' appearance
For many Boomers, Feb. 9, 1964, endures as a seminal Beatles moment: the night of the band's first appearance on American television. A clearly impressed Ed Sullivan introduced the hitmakers, and before they could get more than a few beats into All My Loving, screams that could drown out a jet engine filled CBS-TV Studio 50 in New York. A staggering 73 million Americans tuned in - about 45% of viewing households. Beatlemania had taken hold in America.
6 Rocking Shea Stadium
Today, we think nothing of hot rock bands filling huge arenas. But such mass musical gatherings were unheard of until The Beatles packed New York's Shea Stadium on Aug. 15, 1965, playing before a crowd of more than 55,000. The concert, which yielded a short documentary called The Beatles at Shea Stadium, is most revealing in that it featured a group of musicians who clearly were put off by an environment in which their music was being drowned out. Barely a year later, a 1966 show at San Francisco's Candlestick Park would prove to be the end of The Beatles' in-concert era.
7 'Sgt. Pepper' released
Relieved of the rigors of touring, The Beatles settled into the studio to push the envelope of modern pop. The result was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released June 1, 1967, a conceptual and sonic masterpiece considered by many critics the most influential album of all time.
8 Apple rooftop concert
At midday on a gray Jan. 30, 1969, most Londoners were heading out to lunch. The Beatles were heading to the roof of their Apple Corps headquarters on tony Savile Row. In that small space, one of the greatest bands in the world had come together for a final impromptu concert. For 42 minutes, the quartet, aided by keyboardist Billy Preston, ripped through songs ranging from Get Back to Danny Boy. But the writing was on the crumbling wall. The band soon fractured and initiated various solo projects. In late 1970, McCartney sued his former bandmates, officially marking the end of The Beatles.
More on The Beatles, 50 years since Ed Sullivan:
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