The Beatles’ First Appearance On American Television

by Norm Gregory on January 4, 2014

in 1963, Music

We are coming up on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles arrival in America. Of course many of us were aware the Fab Four for months. Many of their early U.K. releases come to the U.S. in the fall of 1963 on small independent labels because EMI couldn’t convince their American partners, Capitol Records, to issue the records in the U.S. In early January ’64 Capitol woke up. And by March the Liverpool quartet dominated the American charts and American Top Forty radio.

I knew it was going to happen. Which media out-let first put the Beatles on American TV?

NBC says: November 18, 1963, Huntley-Brinkley featured a report by Edwin Newman on the Beatles phenomenon. It was the Beatles’ first appearance on American television. Nearly four minutes long, the piece was seen by millions of people across the country.

CBS: Most people think the Beatles made their American television debut on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” in 1964. But Walter Cronkite, a stickler for accuracy, always wanted people to know it actually happened on the “CBS Evening News” in 1963, reports CBS News anchor Katie Couric. Beatlemania was well underway in the United Kingdom. “We were offered a piece from our London Bureau of this phenomenon,” Cronkite said. “So we put it on the air one night.” That night was November 21, 1963. The Beatles had already sold 2.5 million records.

1 Ed Bennett February 7, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I remember watching this show. At first I thought they were the most hideous looking people I ever saw. I had a crew cut at the time. I did not like their sound either and I could not understand why the girls were screaming. I first heard “I wanna hold your,e hand” on Hollywood Palice the night before. Then when I saw them on Ed Sullivan, I was hooked and even grew my hair. I now think they are the greatest group of all time. They did so much to change my life. I also remember hearing Del Shannon,s cover of “from me to you” get several spins on KJR. It peaked at no. 80 on the billboard chart.

2 Norm Gregory February 7, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I have told this story so many times . . . it must be posted it somewhere here . . . .

I was working at Camp Orkila on Orcas Island during the summer of 1963 and heard the Beatles’ “From Me To You” on CKLG in August of ’63. I was always a sucker for the falsetto . . so took to the song immediately.

When I got back to Western, at downtown Bellingham record stores (there were two), I came across “She Loves You” on Swan, “From Me To You” and “Please Please Me” on VeeJay.

To this day, I have college roommates who credit me for discovering the Beatles. Hahaha.

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