Valley memories of Beatles on 'Ed Sullivan' remain vivid

The Fresno BeeFebruary 1, 2014 

Did seeing the Beatles perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Feb. 9, 1964, change your life?

The upcoming CBS special, "The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles," takes a look at the show's impact.

A record-setting 74 million people watched Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr perform "All My Loving," "Till There Was You," "She Loves You," "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." That means the odds are high those of you who are over the age of 50 were sitting in front of the television watching musical history being made.

Many others may have been moved to a frenzy watching the performance when it was released and re-released on video and DVD.

The memory of that performance still resonates with many locals.

Fresno's Diane Daniels, who was 14 when the show originally aired, recalls, vividly, sitting with her entire family — including her grandmother who was living with them at the time — in the living room to watch the program. She already was a fan of the Fab Four through their records and radio play.

"My mother said how terrible it was they had long hair. All they had were bangs," says Daniels, whose favorite Beatle is Paul.

She was living in Fremont at the time and begged her parents to buy her a ticket to see The Beatles when they appeared at the Cow Palace in San Francisco six months later. They forked over the $8.50 for the ticket and Daniels and her best friend, Joanne, arrived at the venue at 8 a.m. — 12 hours before the show.

"It's the happiest memory in my life, including my wedding," Daniels says.

Warren Aubrnhdimer, general manager of Spinners Records in the Tower District, was in the third grade when the Sullivan show aired.

"I don't remember that performance, but I do remember my mom letting me stay up to watch it. My mom was a big Beatles fan and knew everything about them. My dad was also into music because he designed and built stereo equipment so we always had music on in the house," Aubrnhdimer says.

Tom Whitlock, general manager of Clovis' Whitcomm Electronics, was 9 when the show aired. His memories are more of his parents than of the performance.

"I remember them singing 'She Loves You' and my parents flipping out over their long hair and the music. Their eyes were as big as saucers and their jaws dropped," Whitlock says, pausing before adding, "I also remember the girls screaming."

The Beatles music became a huge part of Whitlock's life as he helped launch KFIG radio in the 1970s. The Beatles were part of the Album Oriented Rock format played on the station.

Many who were too young to remember The Beatles on "Ed Sullivan" are getting plenty of opportunities to create their own memories. The recent Grammy telecast — that featured a performance by McCartney and Starr — was the second most watched Grammys in 21 years with 28.5 million viewers.

Then there will be a two-hour CBS special, which was taped the night after the Grammys and will feature today's top artists covering the songs performed by The Beatles on the Sullivan show along with other Beatles songs through the years. There also will be footage from that landmark Sunday evening and other archival material.

Sneak preview

"The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles," 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, KGPE (Channel 47.1)

Share your memories

We'd like to hear your memories of the Beatles coming to America. Send brief descriptions to Rick Bentley by mail to 1626 E. St., Fresno, CA, 93786, via email at rbentley@fresnobee.com, or by adding a comment to Rick's Beatles post on fresnobeehive.com.

 

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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