On June 1st, 1967, the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, boosting the sales of vintage military uniforms and further cementing their status as the biggest rock group in the world. Two weeks later, they started work on their next omnipresent musical event: participating in the Our World TV show on June 25th, employing Earth’s newly constructed satellite technology to deliver a live global broadcast from locales as far-flung as “Takamatsu and Tunis.”
The Beatles agreed to perform a new song as the representatives of the United Kingdom. “It was the first worldwide satellite broadcast ever,” Ringo Starr said years later. “It’s a standard thing that people do now, but then, when we did it, it was a first. That was exciting – we were doing a lot of firsts.”
This February 7 marks 50 years since The Beatles first came to America. A thousand tributes will tell you what happened. But how and why did it happen the way it did? What was America really like then, culturally and socially, that allowed the group to strike such a deep nerve? And what was it about The Beatles themselves—their backgrounds, their style, and of course their music—that made them so unlike anything Americans had seen before?
In his new e-book Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Beatles and America, Then and Now, Michael Tomasky explains the group’s impact in the context of the times in a richly detailed, often surprising, I-never-knew-that! account of why they became the phenomenon they did. Kurt Andersen says of Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: “This book was a revelation. No one has more lucidly and entertainingly distilled the whys and hows and look and feel of the moment the Sixties began.”
The network will air a two-hour program about the Fab Four, “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles,” that will feature contemporary artists performing Beatles tunes in addition to archival footage.
The special will air Feb. 9, the 50th anniversary of the band’s appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” for the network. Footage and other archival material from the night of the group’s “Sullivan” performance will be included, along with performers who’ll emphasize the importance of the group’s performance on the show.
Ringo Starr celebrated his 72nd birthday on July 7, 2012 in Tennessee, first at the Hard Rock Nashville—where at 12:00 noon local time he asked the world to join him in a wish for Peace & Love—and then at the Ryman Auditorium, where he performed with the 13th edition of his All Starr Band. Members of the group this year, along with Ringo, are Richard Page, Todd Rundgren, Mark Rivera, Gregg Bissonette, and newbies Steve Lukather and Gregg Rolie.
One of the stops on Ringo’s tour was Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida, on July 1. I had the pleasure of attending that concert and have uploaded the photos I took to an album on Facebook. Click here to check them out; no Facebook account or login required!
The happiest of birthdays to my favorite Beatle. Here’s to many more years of music, entertainment … and Peace & Love.