Yahoo is publishing first-person accounts from Americans who remember when the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan show helped spark a change in tone, attitude and culture across the nation. To coincide with the 50th anniversary of that seminal event, we asked them to recount the era: What life was like in February 1964 in their communities? How did the Beatles began to change culture? Here’s one story.
FIRST PERSON | With a clean cut look that portrayed boyish innocence, the Beatles ran onto the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater in February 1964. Adoring disciples gyrated beside their seats and greeted them with free-flowing tears and screams.
Watching on television, I remember the bouncing hair that hung to their ears as they sang and bobbed to the beat of “All My Loving.” It proposed a different image than my Midwestern flattop.
The Beatles debuted in the USA about four months after Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. With his youth and charisma Kennedy appealed to a burgeoning crop of young adults, but now he was gone and we yearned for healing.
Without warning, in a mystical-like appearance on that era’s stage of stages, a form of healing came as the Beatles melodically offered to hold our outstretched hands.
With rapt attention I watched them. Throughout their performance, I felt a sensory attachment to the rumblings of antisocial value systems that cascaded over America’s blooming adults. As an 18 year old freshman at Nebraska Wesleyan, in Lincoln, Nebraska, along with millions of others across our country, I liked what the Beatles projected.
Yet, like my flattop, the Fab Four’s image was a mirage. They evolved into an anti-establishment group and explored the paraphernalia accompanying that mindset.
Likewise, my flattop grew to cover my ears and draped over my shirt collar, while an unsociable attitude dangled from my long tresses.
Hand in hand with the Beatles, in an era molded by Vietnam and racial tensions, I, too, lost my boyish innocence. Although, when I entered my thirties, marriage and a career necessitated my return to conformity.
However, the intervening years are my secret.