Beatles: The band that shook a generation

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Beatles: The band that shook a generation (Kelly Clarke) / 9 February 2014 Today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first live performance in the US — a show which caught the attention of 73 million viewers. Here, Kelly Clarke talks to local residents about how the band has influenced them. Today marks the 50th anniversary of a TV performance which saw one Liverpudlian band skyrocket to worldwide fame. Described by several residents in the UAE as the “voice of a generation” and “influential”, The Beatles have passed through decades of punk, pop, reggae and house, but still dominate the music industry today — despite only two surviving members. The impact they have had on generations of music lovers has been phenomenal, and although 30-year-old Dubai dweller Nicholo Jallores from the Philippines wasn’t even born when the band gave their debut performance in New York, he says he’s always been a fan. “They represented the 60s and 70s cultural zeitgeist so strongly that they ending up defining it. From what little I have consumed (of their music), I feel fully and infinitely energised, both as a writer and a musician.” The show that shook the music world It was a cold February evening in 1964. The location was New York and the venue, The Ed Sullivan Show. As four floppy-haired Liverpool lads took to the stage, many wouldn’t have guessed they were about to make history. With guitars in tow, and high-pitched screams echoing through the studio, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — collectively known as The Beatles — weren’t the only act on the show that evening. But many who witnessed the band’s debut American performance say they may as well have been. During the live show, which broke TV viewing records, many say The Beatles’ performance that night changed music, fashion, history — and basically an entire generation. How The Beatles conquered America Six weeks before The Beatles arrived in New York, practically no one in the US had heard of them. By the time they touched down, hysteria gripped America, and a record 73 million watched their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show October 31, 1963 American TV variety show host Ed Sullivan experiences Beatlemania at London’s Heathrow Airport, as screaming fans welcome the group home from Sweden November 11-12 Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein persuades Ed Sullivan to book the group for two live appearances, plus pre-recorded telecast, on his prime-time Sunday evening variety show December US media begin to report Beatlemania craze sweeping Britain. Radio stations start playing UK copies of I Want To Hold Your Hand Capitol Records – US counterpart of EMI’s Parlophone label – mounts $40,000* The Beatles are Coming campaign, including double-page ads in Billboard and Cash Box music magazines (*equivalent to $233,500 today) December 26 Capitol Records releases I Want To Hold Your Hand . Single sells 250,000 copies in first three days January 7, 1964 Filmed performances of She Loves You shown on The Jack Paar Show , which is the first complete Beatles song shown on American TV January 17 I Want to Hold Your Hand becomes number-one on Cash Box Top Singles . Song holds top spot for eight weeks February 7 Beatles arrive at New York’s JFK Airport to chaotic scenes as they are greeted by 3,000 screaming fans. TV press conference reveals musicians as witty, charming and playful February 9 Beatles perform live on Ed Sullivan Show, reaching record audience of four-in-10 Americans February 22 After second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (left to right) Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon return to London March 13 Sales of Meet The Beatles! – group’s debut  Capitol Records’ album – hit 3,600,000 copies. Album holds number one spot on Billboard 200 album chart for 11 weeks April 4 Musical first – Beatles hold top five slots on Billboard Hot 100 chart with Can’t Buy Me Love, Twist and Shout, She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, and Please Please Me Local resident Mike Quinn agrees. “The Beatles was the first band to influence a whole generation, not just their music, but also the fashion of the day,” he tells Khaleej Times , adding that they have paved the way for other bands like Oasis and Coldplay, who have taken inspiration from their music. Now 50 years on, posters of the band still adorn the bedroom walls of music-lovers across the globe, laying true testament to the staying power of the rock foursome. The show that changed it all Although The Beatles had already garnered huge popularity in their home country, with three years of UK tours under their belt, the performance on The Ed Sullivan Show steam-rolled what was soon to become the British invasion into the United States pop market. And their Beatlemania fan base amassed several more million followers overnight. As the band touched down at JFK airport on February 7, 1964, die-hard fans turned out to get a glimpse of the ‘Fab Four’, despite many around wondering what all the fuss was about. But two days later, on February 9, the fuss was revealed when America laid witness to the history-making performance. The band’s arrival was even likened to the visit of royalty, with one airport official quoted as saying: “We’ve never seen anything like this before, ever. Never. Not even for kings and queens.” Three of the band’s favourite numbers made the set list during that February 9th showcase, including All My Loving, Till There Was You and I Want to Hold Your Hand , and the sneak peek into the band’s real musical flavour proved a hit with those in the audience, as well as the 73 million viewers gathered around their TV sets on the night. But Dubai-based Events Manager Julia Finn, says of all the records they made, there’s really only one she likes. “ All You Need Is Love was a number one hit single the year I was born,  but it’s one of the only songs I like from them.” The legacy lives on Throughout their career, The Beatles were noted as one of the greatest and most influential acts of the rock era, but after ten years together, they disbanded in 1970 and all four members embarked on solo careers. Lennon and McCartney thrived on solo success, but on December 8, 1980, news broke that Lennon had been shot dead, with fans around the world left dumbfounded by his early demise. George Harrison was the second member of the band to die, and on November 29, 2001, at the age of 58, he lost his battle with lung cancer. But Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr are still the names forever etched into the world’s collective consciousness, and according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), The Beatles are the best-selling band in the US, with 177 million certified units.   Celebrating 50 years Now, on the 50th anniversary of the band’s show-stopping American debut, the two surviving members of the band, McCartney and Starr, are returning to New York’s Ed Sullivan Theatre to take a look back on that one performance which paved the way for other budding music artists around the world. Just weeks following their recent reunion at this year’s Grammy Awards, McCartney and Starr will sit down with David Letterman for an interview that will air today, as part of “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles” on CBS, celebrating the legacy of the group 50 years on. (With inputs from agencies) For more news from Khaleej Times, follow us on Facebook at , and on Twitter at @khaleejtimes Continue reading →

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