The Beatles on Ed Sullivan 50 Years Later
By Brian Ives
As was mentioned numerous times on the GRAMMYS Sunday night, we’re nearing the 50 year anniversary of the Beatles‘ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on CBS. Some might ask, how many times do we have to pay tribute to a band who broke up 44 years ago? Why do we still love them? Those are questions that John Lennon would likely respect, if were still here today. Monday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center, a cavalcade of big name artists spanning generations and genres were showing their love, and paying tribute to the Fab Four while filming The Night That Changed America: A GRAMMY Salute To The Beatles. Dave Grohl, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, John Mayer, Brad Paisley and a reunited Eurythmics were among the artists to take the stage to put their spin on Beatles classics. But another aspect of the show was the Beatles footage that was used in between performances. Watching the promo clips for “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “One After 909” and “Penny Lane,” plus footage of the band jamming in the studio served as a great reminder of how much fun these guys were to watch.
Dave Grohl and Jeff Lynne (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Some of the guests were not surprising: Ringo’s brother-in-law Joe Walsh performed twice: once with Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne and George Harrison‘s son Dhani on “Something,” and then again with Gary Clark Jr. and Dave Grohl (on drums) on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Of course, Grohl’s presence wasn’t surprising either: he and Sir Paul are bros and they even shared a GRAMMY on Sunday (for their collaboration “Cut Me Some Slack”). Grohl also played guitar with Lynne on “Hey, Bulldog.” Before performing, he said “If it weren’t for the Beatles, I wouldn’t be a musician,” mentioning that they are “My mom’s favorite band, my favorite band and now my daughter’s favorite band.”
Stevie Wonder (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
Stevie Wonder had neither robots nor Nile Rodgers with him for “We Can Work It Out,” but he did have his occasional backing singer (and one of the subjects of the documentary 20 Feet From Stardom) Judith Hill. He originally recorded the Beatles classic in 1970 for his Signed, Sealed, Delivered album, so he didn’t need cyborgs or disco legends. Although after finishing, he asked to do a second take. You don’t say “no” to Stevie Wonder, the producers granted his wish.
The Eurythmics (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
One moment everyone was waiting for was the Eurythmics’ reunion, and it didn’t disappoint: their “Fool On The Hill” was a great choice. Interestingly, they didn’t use the house band, but other musicians. Could they be rehearsing with them in preparation for a tour? But the moment everyone was really waiting for was the reunion of the surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. First, Ringo took the stage, playing “Matchbox,” “Boys” and “Yellow Submarine.” While it would have been fun to see Paul jamming with him on those, it was also fun to watch him dancing in his seat. Then Ringo exited and Paul took the stage with his longtime touring band, and played “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Birthday,” “Get Back” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” And then. Paul often performs “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” and ends it with a guitar jam. Tonight, however, when the song got to the “Biiiiiiiiiill! Leeeee! Sheeears!” point, Ringo ran on stage and went right into “With A Little Help From My Friends.” (“The Night That Changed America: A GRAMMY Salute To The Beatles” airs on CBS Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. ET). Read an extended version of this report at Radio.com. — Brian Ives, Radio.com