Tag Archives: Ed Sullivan

It Was 49 Years Ago Today…

Beatlesbanner1101934-004-CD2C8F59I was just a young, working class Cleveland boy — two months shy of my 6th birthday — and what happened on this day, 49 years ago, at 8:00 pm ET on Sunday February 9, 1964 became an unforgettable moment in my life.

2e76b29da002e58a18b357d85a67a91ae0a2392aOn that incredible, magical, epochal day, The Beatles – Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — made their first live appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York City. There were just three TV channels in those days – and most televisions in America had their rabbit ears tuned in to the Sunday night broadcast that marked the U.S. debut of the rock n’ roll band that would soon transform international pop culture.

Beatles_399x400Upon their arrival in New York and in the months to follow, I was besotted by The Beatles. My older brother Peter and I would hang out beneath our neighbor Dino Zaccardelli’s bedroom window on West 33rd Street, listening to the glorious, transformative album that Dino’s mom had just bought for him: Meet the Beatles.

I vividly remember how Peter and I listened to that thrilling album over and over, playing passionately along on badminton rackets posing as guitars. Unfortunately, we rocked out while standing on his older brother’s car – and that got is in trouble. (We left a lot of jubilant, rocking footprints on his hood and fenders.)

220px-IntroducingtheBeatlesAt the time, I had no clue that Meet the Beatles was actually the second Beatles’ album released in the United States. Ten days before the release of Meet the Beatles, Chicago’s Vee-Jay Records released the Beatles’ first U.S. album, Introducing…The Beatles.

As far as my brother Peter, Dino and I were concerned, Meet the Beatles was where it all began – and The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS 49 years ago was our introduction to full blown Beatlemania.

usa_meet-the-beatlesFrom those indelible days in February 1964, my life was changed in ways I am still learning to appreciate. To have grown up during Beatlemania is a formative, fundamental  blessing that subsequent generations cannot possibly understand or fully appreciate. (Because they take rock & roll for granted.)

My daughters learned to love The Beatles.

RR0910_603_lgBut I was grew up with The Beatles.

49 years ago – my brother Peter and I got lucky.

All us kids got lucky.

Yeah, yeah, yeah!

YEAH!

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Goodbye, Davy Jones.

At 1:30 pm EST today, NBC News reported: “Singer Davy Jones of The Monkees has died of a heart attack at 66, the medical examiner’s office in Martin County, Fla. has confirmed to NBC News.”

This one really hurts.

Aside from The Beatles, no band stirred my youthful soul like The Monkees. And as a short, dark-haired lad myself, Davy was an inspiration. On episode after episode of The Monkees’ revolutionary television series, Davy showed that the little guy could get the girl.

And Davy’s voice?  And all those great songs? Simply wonderful.

The glorious three-year period from 1966 to 1968 during which Davy Jones and The Monkees challenged The Beatles for the top of the Billboard charts were the greatest years in the history of AM radio – and the formative years of my life.

It’s hard to say where songs like Daydream Believer, I Wanna Be Free, and “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)” end and I begin.

Three decades after my youthful immersion in late 60’s Monkee Mania, I had the opportunity to write and produce The Monkees: Behind the Music. During the course of my work on that show I met and interviewed Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz, and came away impressed by their warm, easygoing and generous natures. Michael Nesmith was at the time avoiding all things Monkee – but getting Davy on board was still a possibility. So, I called him at his home in Pennsylvania.

Sadly, my call with Davy revealed a conflicted and unhappy man, still struggling with the ups and down of his legendary life as a Monkee. Devoted to his family, his daughters and his horses, Davy was ambivalent about his role as a 60’s pop music icon and his current status as a fading former phenomenon. We talked for nearly an hour. I wish I had written it all down. In the end, Davy passed on being interviewed for my show — but I was honored to have the opportunity to talk to him.

Few performers reach the heights that Davy reached. Alone among The Monkees, he was already a star when he was cast in the band. Heck, he even appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on the same bill with The Beatles. (As the Artful Dodger in a number from the smash Broadway musical, “Oliver”.)

Much will now be written of Davy’s last years. Was he at peace? Was he still troubled? What were the states of his relationships with the other Monkees?

I hope that Peter, Micky and Mike will soon give us their thoughts on the passing of their bantam band mate. Meanwhile, Monkees fans worldwide can only say, “Thanks for the great music, Davy. And all the fun. Rest in peace.”

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