Michael Cheney is a professor of communications at the University of Illinois Springfield, where he teaches a course called, “The Beatles: Popular Music and Society.” He described the Beatles’ appearance on the “The Ed Sullivan Show” as a tipping point on how music and youth culture would evolve in this country.
Just five months before the Beatles’ American television debut, George Harrison had visited his sister in southern Illinois and was a complete unknown to everyone he met. But the groundwork was laid for a British invasion.
Capitol Records was convinced to release “Meet the Beatles!” in January 1964, despite the belief of some label executives that guitar rock was a passing fad. Then the band’s manager, Brian Epstein, arranged appearances in the U.S., including two on the Sullivan show (a third performance was filmed before the band went home). By the time the band hit American soil, the Beatles had the No. 1 hit in the land with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
“That’s how much of a culture change that when on between when George was here in late September until when they appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ and almost overnight they became a phenomena,” Cheney said.
Cheney was featured by The State Journal-Register on February 9, 2014.
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