Essential Pittsburgh
5:40 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

The 50th Anniversary of The Beatles' Big Night

A screenshot of The Beatles performing on the Ed Sullivan Show nearly fifty years ago.
A screenshot of The Beatles performing on the Ed Sullivan Show nearly fifty years ago.
Credit CBS / Wikipedia

Fifty years ago this Sunday, February 9, 1964, the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

It was a live performance of several of their songs that had been hyped extensively and preceded by their hit song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" rising to the top of the American pop charts. WYEP Music Director Mike Sauter talks about the impact of the Beatles performance that night.

“It’s just an absolutely unique and remarkable phenomenon. The adulation that the Beatles instantaneously received, not just here in the US, but preceded by the UK and other countries subsequently around the world. It was just a very unique phenomenon to have happened and there’s no one reason why you can say why it happened in any one country or happened at that particular time or place.”

This remarkable performance could not be repeated today according to Sauter because of the monolithic nature of media at that time.

"You just had a couple of choices in media. So, you didn’t have cable TV, you didn’t have the myriad things you could look on the internet. So one thing could become that large.”

Sunday at 4 p.m., 91.3 FM WYEP will air an hour long look at the Beatles' performance on the Ed Sullivan, including an interview with a Pittsburgh resident that was in the audience, fifty years ago.