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Their Pan Am jet touched down at JFK exactly 50 years ago– Feb. 7, 1964–and life has never been quite the same.
Of all the changes set in motion by the Beatles, the most enduring may be the empowering notion of self-expression.
Four shaggy guys from Liverpool who couldn’t even read music showed the world that songwriting should not be left to professionals.
For better or worse, legions of kids (including this one) picked up guitars, drumsticks and pens. Generations later, John, Paul, George and Ringo continue to inspire people to give voice to their dreams, and see where they land.
Our video archives contain numerous Fab Four covers by local acts, and by artists visiting Greater Morristown. The video playlist above includes a sampling.
One of our performers, Michael Andrew of Basking Ridge, still has his $5.65 ticket from the Beatles’ historic Shea Stadium concert in 1965:
I went in ’66 too. It was hot, loud (scary little girls shrieking like banshees in estrus) and exciting.
After Ed Sullivan announced them, all the flash bulbs went off and they popped out of the third base dugout. Mick Jagger was in the dugout with them in a red velvet jacket. I got chills, yes.
My friend next to me said, “They’re so little.” Even from a distance, he figured they would compare to the Paul Bunyan figure on Route 9. Nope, just people.
We had all of 37 minutes with them. You could hear what the songs were — especially if you knew them. What a day, and all by train!
When I first saw the Beatles on TV, I was perplexed. When they quickly took hold of my musical world, I realized that they, especially Lennon, represented a way to look, and to perform, in whatever manner one wanted to, as long as the music would come across. Stars that looked like regular people.
Personal freedom — like Beatniks all over again. Individual freedom of expression. How American. British-American.
Another of our featured artists, Carolyn Schmidt of The Four Baris and the Hickory Tree Chorus, remembered the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964:
My sister and I, very young teens, were glued to the TV that evening, and together we purchased every LP they later produced. Though my parents were skeptical at the time, they now have a strong appreciation for the staying power of the Beatles’ music, too. I especially liked how singable the songs were…
There are plenty of ways to re-live Beatlemania this weekend. On Friday morning, the band Liverpool will perform at JFK’s restored TWA Flight Center–the site of the Beatles’ now-famous first U.S. press conference. It’s a presentation by oldies station Q-104.3; The Fest for Beatles Fans, going all weekend at New York’s Grand Hyatt Hotel; and the Port Authority. (Let’s hope the bridges are open. )
Cousin Bruce Morrow, a legendary New York deejay who welcomed the Fab Four in 1964, will broadcast his Sirius XM Satellite Radio show from the fan festival on Saturday. Late Night with David Letterman–which inhabits the studio where Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles to 70 million viewers in 1964–has broadcast tributes by contemporary artists all week.
And Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will appear Sunday in a CBS special to mark their televised debut in America.
OUR VIDEO PLAYLIST (click the viewer playlist tab to toggle among the videos) includes, in this order:
- Art of Play, a young Morristown band that followed its Beatles muse all the way to the famed Apollo Theater.
- Johnny A., a fabulous guitarist who gave a Fab performance at last summer’s Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival.
- Grover Kemble, a jazz legend, and future pop legend Brynn Stanley, with a sparkling duet.
- Aztec Two Step, a beloved folk duo, with an original tribute to John Lennon.
- Rob Paparozzi and the Hudson River Rats, with a sizzling performance from the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival.
- The Four Baris, an a cappella group, with a pair of clever arrangements.
- The aforementioned Michael Andrew, with mates Alan LoBoeuf and John Korba, from a hot summer gig at Morristown Medical Center.
- New Jersey rocker Glen Burtnik in a Christmas tribute to John Lennon, recorded at the Starlight Room of the Mayo Performing Arts Center.
- The 45-voice Hickory Tree Chorus with Magical arrangements of two seldom-covered gems last fall.
- And a rarity from the vault, featuring a local blogger’s band of unrepentant Beatlemaniacs.