Well, here it is, 50 (FIFTY!!!) years since February 9, 1964 (also a Sunday).
I was 10 years old, the country was still in the dark throes of the Kennedy assassination last Thanksgiving (dark and depressed in other words), Dad had just had his 45th birthday two days ago and I was in a 5th/6th grade split class at Layton Hall elementary school in Fairfax, Virginia. (Either they were the smart 5th graders or WE were the dumb 6th graders, I still don’t know).
Anyhow, all week long, CBS had been advertising that something called the “Beatles” would be on the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night. Now my family always watched the Ed Sullivan Show no matter who was on and then we’d watch “Bonanza” (on NBC) and I would go to bed. There were only 3 channels back then (CBS, NBC and the poor sister ABC) (Channels 9 WTOP, 4 WOR and 7 WMAL respectively in the Washington D.C. area). On Saturday night on ABC was another variety show we all watched called “Hollywood Palace” and on February 8, 1964 one of the guests was “The Beatles” which actually was Jim Henson’s crew before Sesame Street and anything called the Muppets with 4 “muppets” dressed up like the Beatles and doing, I presume a Beatles song” (think “Animal” of the the Muppets with dark hair and less of it (that would come later) but still WAAAAAYYYYY more than Mom and Dad were comfortable with). So having seen the “Beatles” on Saturday night, there was no great anticipation in the Jorgensen household for Sunday night (excited or fearful depending on whether you were the child or parents)……..what’s the big deal????? As you can tell even though I was 10 I had basically never heard music on the radio unless I was running around bothering my big sister and her dates and that brings me to my next point and probably the significance of all of this………..
What Steven Van Zandt calls the “BIG BANG” of Rock ’n Roll happened on the night of February 9. 1964. Elvis, Little Richard, Buddy Holly and others had opened the door and let us hear it………the Beatles KICKED IT wide open and changed the entire cultural world!!!!!!! Literally, overnight (certainly that week of February 10, 1964) everybody in my generation woke up. A girl named Nancy in my class came to school by the second day (I think it was the first) with a “Beatle” haircut……Dennis Gibson showed up that week with “Beatle” boots, a “Beatle” haircut and by that summer I remember walking a few block to his house listening to him (on guitar) and his band playing in his garage (yes, there is reality behind the term “garage band” because many, many of them started in their garages after February 1964). Over the next several months everyone I knew got a guitar (acoustic or electric), myself included,( although I didn’t learn very much on it), when I had never seen a guitar in person before then; and for me, personally, while I have a few snippets of memories before that night, it’s like I can remember every day after that night. I started following baseball that Spring of 1964 (and you know how that has been), I bought my first record album (I’m sure by the next afternoon), “Meet the Beatles” followed by “The Beatles Second Album” a few weeks later (purchased at Kroger’s at Kamp Washington shopping center) (and you know how the record albums, CDs have gone), started listening to music on the radio, etc, etc, my own personal “BIG BANG”. OMG from the opening notes it was absolute magic sitting on the black and white tiled floor of our basement watching the Ed Sullivan Show with Mom and Dad. If you had asked me then, I probably would have bet that I wouldn’t be there on the 50th anniversary cause I would be 60 and Mom and Dad aren’t even 60 now…….that’s REAL old!!! I love remembering it though, and talking about it because Mom and Dad are still in that world.
Well, I could probably go on and on (some or all of you probably think I already have) but if you want a taste of what I’m talking about be sure and watch CBS tonight as they have a 50th anniversary special about that night. If you want to “kind of” feel what I do look on U-Tube for Tom Hanks’ (he’s almost exactly my age) introduction of the Dave Clark Five (the next British band on Ed Sullivan during the British invasion) to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago, he said what I would have said exactly if I was famous.
Love you all, please watch and I hope you enjoy. That combination of factors and societal events will never happen again………sort of like the “BIG BANG” which started all of this.