The Beatles 50th Anniversary Performance on Ed Sullivan Changed Music Forever

February 11, 2014 Updated: April 24, 2016

On February 9 1964, The Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan show to an overenthusiastic crowd of screaming females. The charming and suited boys from Liverpool, England sang “All My Loving,” “She Loves You” and “Yesterday.” They later went on to appear on Ed Sullivan two more times and the rest is history.

On Sunday, The Grammys aired the 50th anniversary of this performance by hosting The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles” on CBS. Numerous artists including Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and John Legend performed some of The Beatles notable tracks. The Late George Harrison’s son Dhani Harrison also performed.

The two surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performed “Get Back,” “With a Little Help From my Friends,” and “Hey Jude.” It was the first time McCartney and Starr performed “Hey Jude” together since 1968.

The Beatles has not only influenced generations of musicians but have also influenced a society in the way they behave.

Below are six categories that the present correlates to the past.


1. They created a blueprint for future “Boy Bands” to follow

In The Beatles early years, their image was squeaky clean. They were clean cut, cute, mop-headed 20-somethings with matching suits. Under the direction of manager Brian Epstein, they became the quintessential money making pop machine. Unlike many boy bands, they played their own instruments. What truly set them apart from other British Invasion bands were their respective personalities. John was cheeky, Paul was cute, George was quiet and Ringo was shy. Later boy bands often incorporated people who were designated to be cute, shy, witty and the everlasting bad boy.


2. Boy Bands Leads to Herds of Screaming Female Fans

Being a member of a boy band meant that you had legions of females who worshipped you the second you stepped foot outdoors. The Beatles female fans worshipped them to the point where they fainted upon seeing them and as their mockumentary A Hard Day’s Night suggested, hunt them down until they were cornered. When the public found out that John Lennon was married, girls around the world were left in shock. Soon after, Paul dated Jane Asher to the disappointment of fans.

Even in todays pop industry, female fans of One Direction, The Wanted, Justin Bieber and any 90’s boy bands continue to worship them in godlike conditions. They would wait overnight or even days just to see them. If any band member has a girlfriend, it is not surprising if the girlfriend were to receive negative comments or even death threats.


3. The Beatles weren’t afraid to grow musically and abandon their Pop Image

Bealtemania took a toll on the band that had already grown weary of touring. After they decided never to tour again, they went to the studio and began to experiment with different genres. Rubber Soul was a departure from their previous albums where they incorporated Folk and Indian music on several tracks. Their songwriting became more sophisticated as they composed songs relating to politics, sex and acid trips. Tracks that focus on these themes are: “Revolution,” “Taxman,” Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,”  “I Am The Walrus,” “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun.”  The Beatles also composed songs that were aimed at children like “Yellow Submarine” and “Octopus’s Garden.” Ringo Starr sang both songs.  

They also began to compose music that ran far more than the standard 2-3 minutes. “Hey Jude” is seven minutes long while versions of “Revolution” run for 8-9 minutes. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is 7 minutes, 44 seconds long and is considered one of the first Progressive Rock songs; a genre that Pink Floyd would popularize in the 1970’s. Abbey Road contains a medley of eight songs that are interconnected with each other and played continuously. Green Day did the same on 2004’s American Idiot with the tracks “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Homecoming.”


4. Musical Evolution leads to Personality Shifts

 The Beatles decided to break away from their clean image by talking about Jesus, growing their hair, beards and dress like every counterculture person at the time. Everything they did after that was nothing short of bizarre and expected when one has been around the same people for an extended period of time. Long story short, the band traveled to India to spend three months under the guidance of a guru named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after the death of manager Brian Epstein. This guru was supposed to guide them in a new direction in regards to their songwriting. Soon after, they created Apple Records, John met Yoko Ono, tensions arose amongst each other (not necessarily because of Yoko) during the making of the White Album and they permanently broke up after Abbey Road was recorded.

Like The Beatles, many bands that have gone on hiatuses or permanently split up often go through the cycle of friendship, euphoria, decline and separation for numerous reasons, largely because of creative differences.


5. The Beatles’ White Album and its Impact

In the decades since this album was released, bands such as Metallica and Weezer have released self-titled albums that are known as the “insert color” album. Metallica released The Black Album in 1991 and Weezer has released three different self-titled albums that are known as: The Blue Album (1994), The Green Album (2001) and The Red Album (2008).


6.  USA’s Love Affair with Everything Britain

The last thing the colonists who fought for independence against England in the 18th century wanted was for future Americans to get caught up in the excitement of British entertainment. The Beatles not only churned out #1 hits in America but bands like The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who soon achieved massive fame as well. The British Invasion of the 1960’s also led to the Mod fashion trend and Julie Andrews becoming a household name with The Sound of Music.

In the 1970’s, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and English punk came to prominence with The Clash and The Sex Pistols while the second British Invasion of the 1980’s brought many Heavy Metal bands like Iron Maiden, Motorhead, and Judas Priest to the forefront. Today, Americans are fixated on BBC America where some of Britain’s most popular shows include: Doctor Who, Torchwood, Top Gear, Graham Norton Show and anything with chef Gordon Ramsey.

Love them or hate them, The Beatles has made such an impact on music and the world it’s difficult to ignore all together.