In the days of black and white TV, the only way to change the channel was to turn the “channel wheel” on the front of the TV. Usually it was the kid(s) who turned it with the permission of the adults.
Since I usually sat on the floor during “TV time” in our house, I was the wheel turner. As such, I was warned repeatedly not to crank the wheel around too fast.
There were news channels, sports channels, and lots of variety shows, game shows, comedies, documentaries and cartoons. One of our favorites was the Ed Sullivan Show.
Every kid I knew could do a spot-on imitation of Ed’s opening line; “we have a really big shew for you tonight!” On his show, you could see all kinds of acts; magicians, dancers, jugglers, comedy routines, musical groups, and the famous Italian puppet, Topo Gigio:
But the most famous act of all of Ed Sullivan’s shows had to be the Beatles, singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
It was February 9, 1964. We had heard of this new singing group out of England called the Beatles. Their songs were so different from what we all had been listening to up until then: the Shangri-Las, Mary Wells, the Kinks, Roy Orbison, the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Drifters, Gene Pitney, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Odetta, and so on.
There was something so brash yet so appealing about the Beatles. They and their music caught fire in the US immediately. We loved their sound, their hair (this at a time when most men and boys wore crew-cuts), their accents, and their music.
And it wasn’t just their music that drew us in and fascinated us. Up until the Beatles showed up on the musical horizon, our general view of England was stuffy old queens, kings, Winston Churchill, the bombing of London in 1940, and so on.
But this new singing group made us all look at England, especially Liverpool, in a whole new way. All of a sudden there was the “Carnaby look” from designers like Mary Quant:
We girls all wanted to look like Twiggy, too:
But most of all, we loved the Beatles’ music. John, Paul, George and Ringo were our rock gods, and we spent our allowances on their record albums. We began to feel that their music was our own; our anthems to our teen years.
Later on in our lives would come both great and horrible things, but back in those innocent and worshipful days, we loved the Beatles and we loved how their music made us feel. What Beatles fan doesn’t remember how the words to “Yesterday?”
“Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.”
Thanks, John, Paul, George and Ringo—we’ll never forget the times and the music.