On Feb. 9, CBS aired a special titled “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America – A Grammy Salute.” Promoted heavily throughout CBS’ coverage of the 56th Grammy Awards, at which the Beatles were given the Lifetime Achievement Award, the special aired on the 50th anniversary, almost to the hour, of the Beatles’ first televised appearance in America on the Ed Sullivan Show.
The special was star-studded, with huge names in popular music from across the years performing renditions of classic Beatles tunes.
Maroon 5, John Legend, Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Pharrell Williams, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons and John Mayer performed. Dave Grohl, who won a Grammy this year for “Cut Me Some Slack,” his collaboration with Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear and surviving Beatle Paul McCartney, also took the stage.
For the first time in years, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart reunited as Eurythmics to pay the Fab Four tribute.
After all the tribute performances had passed, the surviving Beatles took the stage in front of their families, friends and fans to recreate some of the magic they once wielded so readily. Ringo Starr performed two of his hits, “Matchbox” and “Boys,” before performing what is arguably his token Beatles cut, “Yellow Submarine.” Although written by McCartney, the song featured Starr on lead vocals and is one of the most instantly recognizable Beatles songs, even having inspired and spawned one of the Beatles feature films, a cartoon with the same title.
McCartney then displayed his still-powerful mastery of his art, playing “Birthday,” “Get Back” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” After McCartney added a rendition of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band,” Starr joined him to lead the crowd in “Hey Jude” as a tribute to John Lennon and George Harrison, the other two Beatles, who died in 1980 and 2001, respectively.
“(The Beatles) still influence our generation because they are a part of our pop culture today,” senior Jacob Klotz, who is in Harding’s Beatles course, said. “We still listen to their albums and buy Beatles merchandise, but we aren’t ‘Beatlemaniacs’ like our parents’ generation. We don’t have mop-top haircuts or dress like the Beatles anymore, yet we still cover and include elements of their sound in the music of our generation. The fact that the Beatles are so ingrained into pop culture helps them to remain relevant 50 years after appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, when other musicians of that era and the ones that came after them are mostly irrelevant.”