“Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles!” With those five words and a payment of $10,000.00, television host Ed Sullivan may have singlehandedly changed the face of popular music in the world. At 8:04 p.m. on Sunday February 9, 1964, four long-haired lads from Liverpool starting singing on Stage 50 of CBS Studios. Although not a completely unknown quartet, it was on that February Sunday and the next two Sundays, that The Fab Four became the faces of the “British Invasion” which forever changed the music of our lives.
Not all of the 73 million people, representing more than 45 percent of American tv households, watching that night were thrilled. Some didn’t like their long hair and some were turned off by the screaming girls in the audience. After a few years, many didn’t like their politics or their drug use.
If you watched the show that night, you might not remember another musical performance. The Broadway cast of “Oliver” sang songs from the popular musical. In the middle of the performance, an 18-year-old English boy from Manchester, England sang the part of the Artful Dodger. As he stood on side of the stage, the singer began to hope that one day he would get the same reaction from his audience. Two years later, in NBC’s quest to duplicate the Beatles, the young man and three others were signed as a quartet to star in a zany, musical comedy show, the Monkees. The Monkees were the hit that the network executives had hoped. And, that young man, Davy Jones, would rise to the top of the favorites list of teeny boppers in the country and around the world.
And now, fifty years later, here are some comments from Dubliners, past and present, about George, John, Paul and Ringo and how they felt when they first saw and heard the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and how their music affected their lives.
THE TAX MAN COUGHETH
Ron O'Quinn, regarded as one of the best disc jockeys of all time and a member of the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame, remarked, “Fresh out of the U.S. Army in early summer of 1963, I was working as a deejay and music director at WMYR in Ft. Myers, Florida. We got a promotional copy of a group called The Beatles on the Vee Jay label. The song was "From Me To You". Vee Jay was a Rhythm and Blues label out of Chicago and these guys were obviously white boys. Cashbox magazine said “From Me To You” was a huge hit in England, but that meant nothing to us back then. Our listeners liked it, but there was no great clamor being heard about the group.
Only the most fervent Beatle fans will remember that the coughing sound, not edited out of the introductory chatter of the 1966 Beatles song “Taxman,” was indeed from Ron O’Quinn.
P.S., I LOVE YOU
Every girl had their favorite Beatle. Samille Swinson Posey loved all four of them. Rosemary Reinhart Digby was especially infatuated with their hair.
Gail Rogers wrote a letter and got baseball card size photos of her faves.
“I still have the one of Paul with the words."I love you, Paul” on the back! When I hear the Beatles now on the radio, I feel as if I am 14 again!” Gail declared.
Karen E. Davis recalled, “I remember my mom and our neighbor talking (and laughing) about the Beatles over the backyard fence while they were hanging laundry. The adults thought it was silly and in retrospect, I'm surprised we got to watch the show. I remember my brother, Wesley Davis, and I danced in front of the TV, the twist if I recall correctly. We had fun but I couldn't understand why all the girls were screaming.”
“I think of that (night) often. They had such a fresh look, a new, amazing sound and there was the exhilarating realization that music was headed down a new path!” Jan Edwards commented.
“We walked down the dirt road to a cousin who had a tv. I thought I would grow up and marry Paul. Silly girl, half the world thought that,” recalled Karen Gay Thompson, who turned 13 that day and she believed it was fate.
Marka Ann Brooks remembered watching the Beatles that night at a girlfriend's house because her dad wouldn't let her watch it at home
“I was sitting in front of the TV like all the other 9 year old girls! I can still hear Ed introduce them and see Paul shaking his cute head!” remembered Kay Middlebrooks Baeumel.
Renee Fraser’s daddy let her stay up past her bed time to watch, but Sue Christian’s daddy didn’t allow her to miss church that night.
THESE BOYS ARE BEATLES FANS TOO
Two Dublin teenagers who would later form a garage band known as the Ancestors, were dramatically affected by the Beatles. Tom Patterson felt charged and renewed. Patterson, who hated the teenage music of Bobby Vee, The 4 Seasons and Connie Francis, realized the Beatles were getting their energy from black American southern performers like the genius Richard Penniman, aka Little Richard from just up the road in Macon.
“I remember the first time I heard a Beatles tune on the radio, and of course seeing all the Sullivan Show appearances, and then devouring every one of their records as soon as they were released. Not long after the first Sullivan show performance, I joined forces with the Tanner brothers to form one of several bands in what I like to call Dublin's late-1960s rock-&-roll renaissance. And the rest is, like they say, history,” Patterson recalled.
“The Beatles changed my life from Little League to playing in a band. Fifty years later, I'm still playing. They were a breath of fresh air. I saw Paul McCartney a few years back and the audience ranged in age from two to 70 - all of them caught up on the magic. I pity the people who couldn't enjoy them,”declared Edward Tanner, Patterson’s band mate and neighbor who was equally influenced by the Beatles.
Griffin Lovett, an inveterate Beatlemaniac, began to idolize drummer Ringo Starr. The former Dublin High drum major and drummer, started his own garage band, “The Knights of Darkness” after being influenced by Starr and the rest of the Beatles.
Wayne Mullis was stationed at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station in Hawaii. Mullis and his fellow Marines somewhat resented an invasion of foreigners.
“It didn't take long and we were as big a fool as anyone else,” recalled Mullis.
I had a wig too. I think my mother threw it away when the mice got in it and made a nest.
Al Rhodes was getting nervous as he sat in church with his parents. But then, much to his surprise and amazement, the minister of the Methodist Church announced he was ending the Sunday night service early so the kids could go home and watch the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.
“It was a good night, got outta church early and saw the Beatles,” Al chuckled.
At first John Pike didn’t understand the hysterical frenzy surrounding the show and the Beatles. “Honestly, I still don't. As time passed and I learned more about music, I came to appreciate their genius. They truly were great artists,” Pike asserted.
THE BEATLES INVADE ATLANTA
On a Wednesday night, August 18, 1965, the Beatles made a flying trip to Atlanta Fulton County Stadium for a concert. Some lucky Dublin teenagers and their reluctant parental chaperones traveled to the brand new stadium to watch the Beatles perform from a stage centered on second base.
Among the lucky ones from Dublin, who got tickets for as low as $4.50, were Edward Tanner who went with his parents, brother Blair and sister Georgeanne. Dwayne Gay was also there.
Samille Swinson desperately wanted to go to the concert, but without her parents. So after she purchased four tickets for $18.00, Samille asked her friend Mala Yeomans to go with brother Robert Swinson and his girlfriend Lynn Wolf.
“The day of the concert we all went to Atlanta and Daddy checked us into the Heart of Atlanta Hotel. Mala and I were beyond excited. Every time we heard sirens we just knew that the Beatles were coming by, and we wanted to chase the sirens. Our seats were in the 2nd level somewhere between home plate and third base. The stage was on second base. The anticipation before the concert was like something I'd never felt before. Of course, Mala and I kept thinking that we would actually meet them and they would fall in love with us! When they took the stage it was madness. They were so tiny from our viewpoint it very well could have been anyone else but the Beatles, but when they broke into "Twist and Shout" there was no doubt. It was over all too soon, but certainly ranks top of the many wonderful memories from that era,” Samille fondly recalled.
Vicki Fowler Lunceford inexplicably missed the Ed Sullivan Show that first night. But she did make it to Atlanta to see them live in concert.
“What a trip!! I still have my program from the show,” said Vicki, who at another time that year traveled to Statesboro to watch the Rolling Stones in concert.
Monty Hester, recalled Griffin Lovett, made it all the way there hitchin’ a ride to get in to see one of the greatest concerts in the history of the capital city.
THE PAN STILL FLASHES
Although the Beatles were adored by millions of American teenagers, they did not receive the same reception from the parents of these teenagers. Myra Miles great grandmother wasn’t so negative. “She liked them,” Myra recalled.
Mary A. Lewis was anxiously awaiting the Ed Sullivan Show that night. Her mother had a different tune.
“My mother thought they were as disgusting as Elvis,” Mary recalled.
“My father thought Elvis was going to Hades. He knew the Beatles were,” Butch harked back.
Pam Holmes remembered her father saying, "You better not ever get in public and act like those girls are acting."
“My fourth grade teacher -- Ms. Earhart - proceeded to tell our class how atrocious this band was. We learned a new word. But still loved the band no matter how atrocious they were,” Kathy Hodges recollected.
“We were at a family friend's house with all the kids and parents. Of course, the girls (including me) were singing, dancing, and screaming. I will never forget that Daddy (Bill Andre’) said, "They'll last a couple of weeks," recalled Nancy Andre Ganderman.