Feb. 9, 1964, was a day that changed America.
The Beatles’ appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” that evening was a touchstone moment in American pop culture, both for those like me who are old enough to remember watching their flickering black-and-white images, and for new generations who still feel the influence of the four lads from Liverpool.
By the time they landed in America, the Beatles had already ignited Beatlemania (a word invented by a London headline writer) at home in Britain. But still, they were nervous about bringing their act to the U.S., mindful of other British pop stars who had preceded them in the States – and bombed.
The Beatles didn’t bomb. Instead, they spearheaded a musical explosion and an American thirst for British rock ’n’ roll that would come to be known as the British Invasion.
As longtime readers of The News Tribune know, I am an unabashed Beatles freak. In honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the TV moment that made us love them, I have compiled a quiz to find out how much you know about the Fab Four.
So here goes ... from me, to you.
As the Beatles winged their way across the Atlantic Ocean, radio stations in New York City kept listeners abreast of their minute-by-minute progress. Radio DJs reported the temperature in Beatle degrees. On Feb. 7, 1964, the Fab Four touched down on U.S. soil. As they approached, they could see hordes of people waiting on the ground and they wondered, at first, whether the President was also at the airport.
At which airport did they land?
Which airline did the group fly on?
b. BEA (British European Airways)
c. Pan Am
At which famous New York hotel were the boys housed while they awaited their call to head to Studio 50 (since renamed the Ed Sullivan Theater)?
a. Waldorf Astoria
b. The Algonquin
c. The Plaza
d. The Ritz
The day after the Beatles arrived, they were summoned to a press photo call in Central Park. Eager to please, they strolled, romped and laughed their way through the photo shoot. Images from that day in some ways foreshadow their yet-to-be shot movie, “A Hard Days’ Night.”
But in all of the pictures taken that day, there were only three Beatles. One was back at the hotel, sick with tonsillitis. Antibiotics ensured that by the time the Beatles hit the stage for the Sullivan show on Feb. 9, this Beatle was able to take his place behind the microphone.
Who was the missing Beatle?
Which American celebrity sent the Beatles a congratulatory telegram wishing them success in America – a fact announced during the show by Ed Sullivan himself?
a. Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali)
b. Elvis Presley
c. Ronald Reagan
d. Ronald Isley (lead singer of the Isley Brothers)
Murray the K, a DJ for New York radio station WINS fell in the love with the Beatles, spent time hanging around with them while they were in New York, and nicknamed himself “The Fifth Beatle.” The Beatles, for their part, were fascinated by American radio, with its multiple stations blasting popular music 24 hours a day – a far cry from the sedate BBC they had grown up with. From their New York hotel, Paul McCartney phoned Murray while he was on the air, and made a song request. What was the tune he wanted to hear?
a. “Twist and Shout” by the Isley Brothers
b. “Besame Mucho” by the Coasters
c. “Pride and Joy” by Marvin Gaye
d. “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan
During the first Sullivan broadcast, helpful subtitles flashed the name of each Beatle on viewers’ TV screens as the camera moved in for close-ups on each member of the band. Three of the Beatles were simply identified by name. But one Beatle earned an additional subtitle: “Sorry girls, he’s married.” Which Beatle was it?
During their debut Sullivan performance, the Beatles sang mostly original compositions. They opened with “All My Lovin.’ ” But they also included a Broadway show tune, which had been part of their live stage act back in England. Name that tune.
a. “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” from “Sweet Charity”
b. “Where is Love?” from “Oliver”
c. “America,” from “West Side Story”
d. “Till There Was You,” from “The Music Man”
During their New York stay, the Beatles were surrounded by screaming hordes. But they did manage to slip out of their hotel for a bit of fun. They visited the famous Peppermint Lounge, a hip celeb hangout that had spawned its very own dance craze. What was the dance?
a. The Limbo
b. The Twist
c. The Watusi
d. The Frug
The Ed Sullivan broadcast – watched by more than 70 million viewers – was the event that catapulted the Beatles to fame in America. But they also played a separate concert during their first visit to New York. What was the venue?
a. Carnegie Hall
b. Madison Square Garden
c. Times Square
d. Shea Stadium ANSWERS
1. d. JFK
2. c. Pan Am
3. c. The Plaza
4. c. George
5. b. Elvis Presley
6. c. “Pride and Joy” by Marvin Gaye
7. a. John
8. d. “Till There Was You” from “The Music Man”
9. b. The Twist
10. a. Carnegie Hall
Give yourself one point for every correct answer. What’s your tally?
1-2 correct: Sorry. You are obviously a Beach Boys fan. Or is it Beastie Boys?
3-6 correct: You’ll get by – with a little help from your friends
7-9 correct: Fab. You either read a lot, remember a lot -- or Google a lot.
10 correct: Beatlemaniac. You are either a true fan with an eye for detail. Or you got your kids or grandkids to Google the answers for you.