CBS to air ‘The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles’

CBS will air a tribute to The Beatles 50 years to the day after The Fab Four’s 1964 debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.

The Recording Academy®, AEG Ehrlich Ventures and CBS have announced “The Night That Changed America: A GRAMMY® Salute To The Beatles,” a two-hour primetime entertainment special, will air Feb. 9, 2014, at 8 p.m. ET.

The event will feature contemporary artists covering songs The Beatles performed during the group’s debut Ed Sullivan appearance, as well as other Beatles classics. It also will include footage from The Fab Four’s landmark appearance, as well as archival material. For updates and breaking news, visit www.grammy.com.

Beatles Grammy SaluteThe broadcast will be taped at the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center on Jan. 27, 2014. Confirmed performers include Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart (for a one-night-only reunion of Eurythmics), as well as Alicia Keys, John Legend, Maroon 5, John Mayer and Keith Urban. (Click here for tiicket availability and prices or call AXS’ charge-by-phone line at 1-877-234-8425.

Beatles 1964 press conference courtesy Apple Corps Ltd.

The Beatles field questions at a press conference held Feb. 7, 1964, at JFK Airport in New York, two days before the band’s historic appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” A variety of releases and events are planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the event, including the release of “The Beatles: The U.S. Albums” 13-CD box set via Capitol Records and Apple Corps. Credit: Apple Corps Ltd.

The excitement of The Beatles’ Feb. 7, 1964, arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, where the band was met by an estimated 3,000 ecstatic fans at the airport, was documented by the world’s leading media outlets, beamed around the world in a blitz of news bulletins and photos showing John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as they took their first steps on American soil. On Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964, 74 million viewers in the U.S. and millions more in Canada tuned in to CBS to watch The Beatles make their American television debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” America’s biggest star of the day, Elvis Presley, sent The Beatles a telegram wishing them well for their national television debut. In this key moment in American cultural history (and one of the world’s top-viewed television events of all time), The Beatles performed five songs on the live broadcast. Beatlemania, already in full, feverish bloom in The Beatles’ native U.K., was unleashed with blissful fervor across America and around the world. The British Invasion had begun.

Ed Sullivan spoke of the unprecedented frenzy in his memorable first introduction of The Beatles, saying, “Now, yesterday and today our theater’s been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that this city never has witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves The Beatles.”

After captivating North America with their Ed Sullivan debut, The Beatles traveled to Washington, DC, performing their first Stateside concert on February 11 at the Washington Coliseum to 8,000 fans in the round.  The Beatles then returned to New York for two sold-out Carnegie Hall concerts on February 12. On February 16, they made their second appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in a live broadcast from The Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.  Viewership for the episode was nearly as strong as for their debut one week prior, with an estimated 70 million people — 40% of the American population — tuned in to watch their performances of six songs.  On February 22, The Beatles returned to England in triumph, welcomed home upon their 7am landing at London’s Heathrow Airport by an estimated 10,000 fans.

The Beatles were now firmly in place as the world’s favorite and most famous band. Their third “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance, a three-song performance taped prior to the band’s live debut on the program, was broadcast on February 23.  Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart for April 5, 1964 was graced by 12 Beatles songs, including the chart’s Top 5 positions, a sweep of the chart’s summit that has not been achieved by any other artist since. The band’s meteoric rise to unparalleled fame continued as “Beatlemania” swept the globe, a singular and boundless cultural marvel.  The Beatles now belonged to the People, as they have ever since, with their universally-loved music and unflagging respect for humankind, advocating peace and love for all people around the world.

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