News

McCartney, Starr sing Beatles classics to mark U.S. TV debut

McCartney, Starr sing Beatles classics to mark U.S. TV debut

50 YEARS LATER: Paul McCartney (L) and Ringo Starr perform during the taping of "The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles", which commemorates the 50th anniversary of The Beatles appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show." Photo: Reuters

By Tim Reid

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr led a star-studded rendition of the classic Beatles song “Hey Jude” in Los Angeles on Monday night as they commemorated 50 years since the record-breaking British band first appeared on U.S. television.

In a rare joint appearance singing Beatles numbers, McCartney and Starr were flanked on stage by artists including Stevie Wonder, R&B singer Alicia Keys and country singer Keith Urban to celebrate the night in 1964 when The Beatles were watched by 73 million Americans on the Ed Sullivan Show.

In a concert being filmed for “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles,” McCartney and Starr paid special tribute to their former band members, John Lennon and George Harrison. Lennon was shot and killed in 1980. Harrison died of cancer in 2001.

“We were in a band called The Beatles and whenever we play George and John are always with us,” Starr told the crowd. McCartney said: “Tonight we are remembering our beautiful friends John and George.”

The Beatles, wearing black suits and mop top hair, appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964, to screaming crowds in what became a seminal moment for the British band, and U.S. television. Nearly 50 percent of American households with televisions tuned in.

Technicians on the Ed Sullivan set 50 years ago were broadcast at Monday night’s tribute explaining that the “crowd shot” was born that night in 1964. The teenage audience was so hysterical that a camera was devoted entirely to their reaction, a television first.

McCartney, playing guitar, and Starr on drums, brought Monday night’s tribute to a rousing close both with “Hey Jude” and another classic Beatles song, “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

They were watched by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, 80, and Harrison’s widow, Olivia. The last time McCartney and Starr performed Beatles songs together was to celebrate Starr’s 70th birthday, in 2010.

In a three hour tribute before they appeared, a series of artists performed Beatles numbers.

British pop duo Eurythmics – singer Annie Lennox and musician Dave Stewart – reunited to perform “The Fool on the Hill”, and U.S. singer Katy Perry sang a version of “Yesterday”.

Oscar-winning actors Tom Hanks, Jeff Bridges and Sean Penn were among a Hollywood crowd which danced along to the music.

Even the Beatles’ backing musicians were not anonymous journeymen: they included The Eagles’ Joe Walsh and singer-songwriter Peter Frampton.

The 50th anniversary tribute will air on CBS on Feb. 9.

(Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

Recent Headlines

12 hours ago in Music

Desert Trip is going to make October a memorable month

bobdylan

Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Neil Young and more are set to take California by storm this fall.

18 hours ago in Music

Paul McCartney meets ‘Blackbird’ inspirations

paulmccartney324810027294

Paul McCartney met two members of the "Little Rock Nine," who helped inspire the hit Beatles song.

18 hours ago in Entertainment

Jim Beam fills 14 millionth bottle of bourbon

jimbeam807686855761

Jim Beam has filled and sealed its 14 millionth barrel of bourbon since the 1933 repeal of Prohibition, achieving a first in the bourbon industry.

19 hours ago in Music

Fans thirsty for ‘Lemonade’ as BeyoncĂ© breaks Taylor Swift’s chart record

beyonce202549291568

Beyoncé has shattered Taylor Swifts's Billboard album chart record by landing Hot 100 places for all the tracks from her new album "Lemonade."

19 hours ago in Entertainment, Viral Videos

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ as told by emojis

11-overlay-2

If the blockbuster movie was told entirely by characters on your cell phone.