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Wednesday, 11 July 2007

"Ladies and Gentleman, The Beatles!"

By Colleen Shannon of Santiago Dreaming

I don't remember where I was the first time I saw The Beatles because of the event, like someone remembering exactly where they were when they first heard Pearl Harbor had been bombed or when they heard John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, or Bobby Kennedy had been shot. I remember the event because of where I was at the time.

It was the second Sunday in February of 1964 (February 9th) and I was in a bed on one of the wards of Denver's Children's Hospital. About five minutes before the show started a nurse reached up and turned on the TV set perched high on a shelf on the wall of the entrance to the ward. She then switched the channel to CBS.

There were 20 kids in 20 beds. Ten beds side-by-side down one wall and ten beds side by side down the wall on the opposite side of the room. I was in the seventh bed near the end of the row of beds on the right side of the room. Every kid in that room knew who The Beatles were and could not wait to see them. The room was noisy with the chatter of 20 kids excited by what was about to happen. Then Ed Sullivan announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beatles!"

I remember leaning forward to see around the other children in the beds between me and the TV. My mother and four other mothers visiting at the time had wandered down to the end of the room where the set was and huddled under it watching the flickering images on
the screen.

I remember being mesmerized by what I was seeing. These guys looked like no one I had every seen before with their matching collar-less suits, stovepipe pants, pointy boots, and long hair. Then my mother turned her face back to the ward and looked around. (She later said that she turned around because she realized there was total silence behind her. Something she had never heard during her visits before then.) She said urgently to the other mothers, "Look at the kids. Look at their faces."

I pulled my attention away from the TV screen and looked at everyone else. Every kid was leaning forward like me, some farther forward than others, with mouths open and a look of rapture on their faces. I knew that a moment before I had that same look on my face. I scowled at my mother and sat back, I wasn't their to entertain the grownups.

So, what did I think? With all my vast musical knowledge I decided they weren't that great. Their music at the time would have been considered bubble gum music a few years later. I did not become interested in the Beatles until I heard the songs off the Rubber Soul and Revolver albums. Songs like, Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, Eleanor Rigby, Got To Get You Into My Life. But at the same time, something about them that night was mesmerizing.

Could it be that every kid in America who watched the Beatles that night subconsciously understood what the Beatles represented? That, the times they were a’changing.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I remember that night,too. I was the young mother of 4 pre teens who loved the Beatles and couldn't wait to see them on Ed Sullivan. They knew who the Beatles were,but I had never heard of them.When I saw the tight pants and the long hair and the strange music I was startled and realized that music would never be the same and neither would my kids. Sure enough, they imitated them and sang along with their records and grew long hair and wore tight pants.
It took me a long time to appreciate the Beatles and their style of music.
Today, when I hear what passes for music, and words that pass for lyrics,I love to listen to "I Want to Hold Your hand" or "Yesterday" or any of the Beatles tunes.
As I watched them on Ed Sullivan that night I never dreamed that later in my life they would represent the good old days.

This is wonderful! I, too remember where I was--parked in from of the TV at my friend's huse, because my parents didn't have one. I gnawed the cording off a throw pillow waiting for the magic phrase. I was 14. Prime age for "Beatlemania," from which I suffer to this very day. Thanks for the memory!

My, Colleen, what a fantastic memory you have. I was an adult when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, but I could never remember the day or year when I first saw them. My son loved them, but it took a while for me to appreciate the fact that they were great musicians. i do love Yesterday -- it's one of my favorite "oldies."

The times, they KEEP a-changing. I remember well my sister and one of her friends gasping and squealing the night Sullivan aired Elvis. They tell me it was the same with Sinatra. After a two-year tour in the Med back in the early 60s, 24 months where the music in all the bars went back to bubblegum R&R and left me out of touch with any forward progression, I turned on a TV set and discovered a guy dressed in a bear-skin vest, no shirt, his girl friend resembling Morticia off of the Adams family, and both belting out "I Got You, Babe!" I stood there watching and wondering what in the USofA had transpired in my absence.....

I remember the first time I heard "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on the radio. I loved it instantly and I KNEW they would be a big hit. My roommate at the time thought they were screeching and she hated them. I wish I knew where she was today so I could throw it in her face....LOL!!

Lots of wonderful Beatles and music memories here. How great. :)

FYI- I bought the DVD of The Beatles appearances on Ed Sullivan and was surprised to see that Davy Jones of The Monkees was also on Sullivan that night. Sullivan used to have hit Broadway musicals preform a number or two on his show and DJ was playing the Artful Dodger in "Oliver" at the time.

My little sister was the Beatles fan -- not me. Put me crazy with her devoion! I didn't really care for them until "Yesterday" came out when I was in college. It was when Ed showcased the Rolling Stones that the British Invasion caught my attention. They had attitude and still do. lol

I love the image of you in the children's hospital ward. It sounds like a scene out of "Madeline." This was a fun memory!

I shared your lack of appreciation for The Beatles when they came on the scene. They didn't attract my attention much until I heard some of their songs and compositions arranged differently. When the songs were provided different instrumentation and performed by other groups in different music genres' I could enjoy "Yesterday," "Eleanor Rigby," and a select number of their other tunes.

I think the hype preceding their appearance created some of the mania much like with young Frank Sinatra and the screaming fainting girls. I wasn't one of that number either, never fully enjoying him until his voice aged a bit.


You have given us all a wonderful gift in setting up this storytelling blog. Thank you! A thousand times, "Thank you!"


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