by Alex Cosper (2/10/14)
CBS aired an extended Grammy Award tribule for The Beatles on February 9, 2014, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, which marked the beginning of their massive popularity in America. The song "I Want To Hold Your Hand" had just hit number one in America when the Fab Four performed the hit on national TV on February 9, 1964. The show became the most seen episode in TV history at that time, attracting an estimated 74 million viewers, according to A.C. Nielsen ratings. The Beatles went on to make other appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, and of course, became the biggest selling musical act of all time.
The television special featured Paul McCartney and Ringo, who performed "With a Little Help From My Friends" together. Both Paul and Ringo each did a solo set as well that included hits such as "Hey Jude" and "Yellow Submarine." Throughout the show scenes were shown of an interview with David Letterman at the original set on CBS. Both Paul and Ringo appeared to be very honored about the anniversary. Throughout the evening various popular artists paid tribute to the Beatles by performing cover songs. One of the performances that stood out was George Harrison's son Dhani Harrison singing wthe song "Something" with Jeff Lynne of ELO as Joe Walsh played lead guitar.
It was an all-star evening both onstage and in the audience full of music industry stars. Peter Frampton was part of the main group of musicians for the event. Yoko Ono was seen dancing to Paul McCartney's band performing "I Saw Her Standing There." It was an historic night for Beatles fans and the surviving Beatles themselves. Other artists who performed included Imagine Dragons ("Revolution"), Alicia Keys and John Legend ("Let It Be"), Katy Perry ("Yesterday"), Pharrell and Brad Paisley ("Here Comes the Sun"), Eurythmics ("Fool on the Hill"), Ed Sheeran ("In My Life") and Dave Grohl and Jeff Lynne ("Hey Bulldog").
The CBS special was scene by an estimated 14.7 million viewers at its peak in the last half hour of the two and a half hour special. The reaction to most of the show was positive with strong reviews across the media, although the press was critical of a few of the cover performances. Overall it was another big night for the Beatles legacy, which shows no sign of deterioration.
There is no doubt that the 50th anniversary of The Beatles invading America will not end with this tribute that reflects on the first Ed Sullivan Show appearance. Like no other musical act in history, they continue to be a beacon of the past that still shines into the present and the future. There is certainly still room for more Beatlemania to inspire the music world. They have now influenced multiple generations, yet the music industry hasn't found anything like them since. It opens the door to studying why this band remains so great. Understanding the "Beatles-based business model" is essential to anyone exploring music as a career.