The Beatles conquered America, touching down in New York on Feb. 7, 1964, and John, Paul, George and Ringo made their live U.S. television debut two nights later on the Ed Sullivan Show. 74 million people, about 40 percent of the nation, tuned in that evening. Exactly 50 years later, on the same night and same network, CBS paid tribute to the fab four from Liverpool in a special called The Beatles: The Night that Changed America — A Grammy Salute last night.
As many of you have, I grew up on the timeless songs of the Beatles who revolutionized pop music in many ways, influencing the world unlike any other band. My 12-page senior paper in high school was written on their lives and they way they shaped the world of music.
Last night’s Beatlemania included performances by stars like Stevie Wonder who brought down the house playing “We Can Work It Out”, a piano duo of “Let It Be” by John Legend & Alicia Keys, Imagine Dragons with “Revolution”, Katy Perry sang “Yesterday”, Brad Paisley & Pharrell Williams sang “The Beatles Love” with a simultaneous performance of Cirque du Soleil aerialists, amongst many others. The tribute ended in one big sing-a-long with Paul McCartney & Ringo Star performing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “With A Little Help From My Friends”, and my all-time favorite, “Hey Jude”.
Here are 15 things you may or may not know about the Fab Four:
Ringo’s real name is Richard Starkey. Paul is not McCartney's first name, James is. Lennon changed his middle name from Winston to Ono after marrying Yoko Ono in 1969.
Elton John is the Godfather of Sean Lennon, the only child of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
John Lennon grew up near a place called Strawberry Fields in Liverpool.
Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, his son Sean was born October 9, 1975.
The last photograph of John Lennon was taken while he was signing an album to the person who was to assassinate him a few hours later. John obligingly signed a copy of his latest album “Double Fantasy” on the morning of his death for his killer. Later that same day, John returned from the recording studio and was gunned down by Mark David Chapman.
“Hey Jude” was written by Paul McCartney for Julian Lennon. McCartney wrote it in the car while driving to visit John’s son.
John was the only Beatle who didn’t become a full-time vegetarian. George Harrison was the first Beatle vegetarian. Paul McCartney joined the “veggie” ranks a few years later. Ringo became a vegetarian not so much for spiritual reasons, like Paul and George, but because of health problems.
The music for “Yesterday” was written before the lyrics and was originally called “Scrambled Eggs”. The melody came to McCartney in a dream, and so he wouldn’t forget it, sang “Scrambled eggs, oh, my baby, how I love your legs…”.
“Got to Get You into My Life” was written as an ode to marijuana by Paul.
George Harrison was almost replaced by Eric Clapton in January of 1969. After personal differences with the band, Harrison bowed-out, but came to his senses and returned 5 days later.
Both Paul McCartney and John Lennon lost their mothers to early and untimely deaths - a fact that no doubt helped unite them. McCartney's mother died of a blood clot following surgery for breast cancer in 1956. John's mother was struck by a car and killed while walking along the street in 1958. Neither lived to see their sons become world-renowned musicians.
For fifteen months in the early 1960s The Beatles were a quintet. Stuart Sutcliffe, an abstract painter and art school buddy of John Lennon's, was the original bassist for the band during their heady Hamburg days.
Lennon and Sutcliffe named the band The Beatles.
At 2:56 in Hey Jude, Paul McCartney can be faintly heard saying "Oh, f***ing hell" after he made a mistake during the recording of the song.
John Lennon didn't get his driver's license till he was 25.