Tonight marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ premiere on American television—The Ed Sullivan Show—back in 1964.
I was working at Little Italy, a family-owned restaurant in Hermitage, at the time. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Bishop, brought in a TV and we watched it there.
I saw the Beatles in 1966. They were playing at the Cleveland baseball stadium. That was the year I graduated from high school. I was working at the local Arby’s, and a group of us drove up to Cleveland for the concert. We parked outside the city and took a trolley into town. We had lunch and then went over to the hotel where the Beatles were staying. Saw nothing, but enjoyed the crowd.
In those days, the amplification systems were not yet powerful enough for full-stadium concerts, so the stage was set on second base and the seating went around from first base to third base. Our seats were close to first base. The Beatles were great. But, when the opening guitar riff for “Day Tripper” started, the crowd went wild and kids stormed the stage. Police had set up snow fence around the track and tried to hold back the crowd, but to no avail. The Beatles retreated to a trailer set behind the stage until things got settled down and then came out and finished their set. On the trolley back to our car, we saw several people who carried souvenirs of the concert. One had one the first (or third) base bag. Another had the neck of a guitar.
The Beatles—along with Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and a few others—continued to provide social markers for us through college. I remember the day the White Album came out, for instance, and we gathered in a friend’s apartment to listen to it for the first time. Many thanks to them all for giving a soundtrack to our generation.