It was 50 years ago today … |

It was 50 years ago today …

… Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.

Yeah, I know it’s supposed to be 20 years, and yes, it was a week ago last Sunday if you insist upon being anal about it, but I finally found time to watch “Beatles: The Night That Changed America.”

Commemorating their first “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance on Feb. 9, 1964, a full two and a half hours were spent with other artists singing Beatles tunes, specifically those the Fab Four sang that special evening so long ago.

Vail itself was barely a year old.

One out of every three Americans tuned in that night. Although just a wee lad of 5 at the time, I’ve convinced myself that I remember it clearly. However, the truth is I’m probably just remembering the “Ed Sullivan Show” itself, as every Sunday evening was spent at my grandparents’ house, and it was a ritual to watch the “Jackie Gleason Show,” followed by Ed Sullivan.


Anyway, the world’s first boy band turned America on its head that night and from that moment forward influenced not only the generation before me, but my generation and every generation since.

To this day, I can’t hear a Beatles song without one associative memory or another instantly popping into my head, and this tribute show brought goose bumps followed by misty-eyed tears of memories.

Hell, I’m gushing like a 13-year-old schoolgirl just writing about it.

I remember watching “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help” and being convinced at that moment of a lifelong desire to be on stage (which ended up being a giant metaphor, I suppose). And of course, they were bigger than any make-believe characters, mainly by the sheer fact that they, and their music, were real and still are.


The very last time the Fab Four recorded together was on my 10th birthday (Aug. 20, 1969, if you must know), and I have no problem admitting a little part of me died when John was shot in 1980, and another when George passed in 2001.

In other words, the Beatles greatly influenced not just worldwide music and culture, but little ol’ me.

Best tributes of the night were Imagine Dragons singing “Revolution” and Joe Walsh, Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison (son of George) singing “Something.” Eric Clapton should have been there, along with Julian Lennon, but hey, they failed to contact me for preproduction notes.


Name an artist today who you will be thinking of on a consistent basis in the year 2064 — Miley Cyrus, that Bieber guy, Katy Perry (who made me cringe while attempting to sing “Yesterday”), any rap artist, Phish or even the Grateful Dead?

OK, maybe Michael Jackson or Elvis, and perhaps Sinatra, but either way Freddie Mercury (lead singer of Queen) summed them up the best: “The Beatles made me who I became. … There’s them and then everyone else.”

So a little over 50 years ago the Beatles changed the world as we know it, and Vail had just begun as well. I can easily say they both provide pleasant memories and a never-ending reason to smile.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes a weekly column. He can be reached at

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