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Beatles Perform on Ed Sullivan Show

Feb. 9, 1964 - Beatlemania erupted in Manhattan today as the young men with heads like unmade beds gave their first American performance at the CBS studio at 53rd Street and Broadway. The performance on The Ed Sullivan Show was witnessed live by 800 frenzied fans on the edge of hysteria who shrieked out their love for the lads from Britain.

From the moment the Beatles began by blasting out “All My Loving,” the kids bounced like dervishes in their seats to the driving beat. Along with the Beatle Bounce, performed best by wild-eyed girls aged between 10 and 16 but likely to infect adults as well, goes a wild screaming as if Dracula had suddenly appeared on stage. The screams reached a pitch dangerous to the eardrums when the Beatles shook their shaggy locks.

Bravely appearing with the group was George Harrison, 21, the Beatle who had a sore throat yesterday and was told by a doctor to keep quiet and stay in bed. He looked a little unhappy compared with his grinning comrades, but he got just as many shrieks as they did. When the group vanished backstage, the crazed chanting, “We want the Beatles,” broke out. The Beatles loved it; Ed Sullivan loved it; the photographers loved it, and the press agents loved it.

As icing on the cake of all this adulation, the mop-topped troubadours got a telegram from that old-time whipper-upper of the teen set, Elvis Presley, wishing them success. But in the basement, a studio worker listened to the shattering shrieks and roars from above and said simply, “Good God.”

The fans got a quadruple infusion. First, the Beatles, wearing skin-fitting dark suits with velvet collars, went through an afternoon rehearsal. Next, they did a second run-through for tape which will be shown Feb. 23. Then they did it again for the squads of ever-present photographers, and finally they appeared live on the Ed Sullivan Show tonight. On duty inside the theater were 25 security men warily watching for any Beatlemaniacs who might decide to rush onto the stage.


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