This is part of a series of essays to mark the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first American television appearance on CBS’s “The Ed Sullivan Show.” It culminates with CBS News Live Experiences’ “50 Years: The Beatles,” a live, interactive multimedia event at The Ed Sullivan Theater on Feb. 9.
“Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you” were first words America heard from The Beatles as they debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show, February 9, 1964. While teenage girls were no doubt imagining Paul McCartney serenading them through their televisions, the real inspiration for “All My Loving” was back home in England.
Jane Asher met McCartney the previous April when she was sent to cover a Beatles show for a British magazine. The resulting feature would find the 17-year-old actress in her best Beatlemania pose — mouth open, hands on her cheeks — accompanied by the words, “Now these I could scream for.”
McCartney didn’t write the Asher-inspired “All My Loving” with a guitar in hand but with a razor, as the lyrics popped into his head while shaving. He soon took up residence with Asher at her parents’ London home, where he and John Lennon wrote the final song of the debut set for the Sullivan Show, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
McCartney and Asher became the “it couple” on both sides of the Atlantic, providing endless eye-candy and fodder for speculation among fans and the press. The couple played along, too, announcing their engagement in 1967, much to the devastation of single ladies everywhere.
Asher served as a regular muse for McCartney, inspiring other Beatles songs like “We Can Work It Out,” “Martha My Dear,” and “I’m Looking Through You.” However, “All My Loving” and its line “Remember I’ll always be true” proved to be better poetry than prophecy. The couple’s relationship ended when Asher caught McCartney in bed with another woman.
Today, the 67-year-old Asher is a veritable renaissance woman. In addition to her acting, she’s an author, a cook, a philanthropist and a mother of three children. However, one thing she refuses to do is kiss and tell, “I never talk about that,” she told Britain’s Daily Mirror in 2007. “Private life is private life.”
Bill Crandall is a contributor to CBS News Presents and the former Head of Digital Content for Rolling Stone. A Beatles fan from birth (his middle name is Jude), Crandall once interviewed Sir George Martin about the making of each of the Beatles’ No. 1 singles.