Thursday, August 14, 2008

The First Glimpse: January 3, 1964

The Jack Paar Program

Contrary to popular belief, the Beatles' February 9, 1964, live appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was not America's first glimpse of John, Paul, George, and Ringo in action on an entertainment show. On January 3rd, a taped performance of the Beatles was aired on The Jack Paar Program. Paar used this footage as an opportunity to mock the Beatles' success in England, especially the frenzied audiences' reactions. (Prior to this, the Beatles had been featured on CBS Evening News with Walker Cronkite.)

Apparently, Beatles manager Brian Epstein was furious that the BBC had sold this footage to a rival of Sullivan's, since Epstein had assured Sullivan exclusive rights to the Beatles' first televised US appearance. Epstein even threatened to cancel the Beatles' future BBC radio shows, and Sullivan hastily phoned London in an attempt to cancel the Beatles' performances on his show! Thankfully, Sullivan calmed down; imagine what it would have been like if the Beatles were never on The Ed Sullivan Show...I shudder to think!
(Reference: The Beatles Are Coming! by Bruce Spizer, p. 88)

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