This week, CHML’s Scott Thompson made the mistake of asking me about the 50th anniversary of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan.
So then I talk for 10 minutes, straight. I finally calm down and also yak about the Olympic coverage. You can listen to the entire podcast here.
I was in New York for the anniversary and already posted pics of that retro marquee CBS put up over the weekend. They slid a cover over the usual Late Show with David Letterman marquee.
I also did my own magical mystery tour of spots The Beatles hit during that first visit to America in February of 1964. After landing at Kennedy, The Beatles were whisked to The Plaza Hotel. It’s now half hotel, half condo, and I walked over and asked a doorman there if there still might be an employee who was there dating back to the Beatles visit 50 years ago.
|The Imagine mosaic in Central Park|
“No,” he said, “but Ringo was here and stayed the night a few days ago,” he told me.
Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney both appeared on that CBS Grammy Salute to The Beatles, which I thought was pretty fab–especially the parts where they tracked down the people who were on the scene that night. Not just Sullivan workers–an assistant director, the set designer and the guy who stood in for George at rehearsal–but McCall & Brill, a comedy act who shared the bill that night on Sullivan. The testimonials from the women who had been there as young girls was also pretty cool.
|The Dakota. “Go to the window…”|
I also walked through Central Park, where The Beatles minus George Harrison (who was nursing a sore throat) posed for photos that February. On the West side there is a slice of the Park named Strawberry Fields, where an “Imagine” mosaic salutes the memory of John Lennon. There were a few tourists standing there, a guy selling souvenir buttons, and many little sparrows.
The mosaic is quite close to the Dakota, where Yoko Ono still lives. Now that’s somebody who just ain’t moving, no matter what!
One place you can not visit anymore is the Peppermint Lounge. The Beatles went there after Sullivan and danced the night away, as recorded by the great Albert Maysles in the fascinating documentary he made with his brother David, The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit. The Peppermint Lounge was closed in 1965 and the building torn down by the ’80s.
Touring these Manhattan Fab Four sites I had to wonder: at what point do people stop remembering? Is 50 the anniversary where you finally put away the JFK or Beatles memories and simply relinquish them all to history?
My theory: as long as we search for ourselves, we’ll keep bumping into The Beatles. That week in New York will remain meaningful for me, too, because it was a moment in time when everything seemed possible, and perhaps even magical.
I took one last walk past the marquee before heading back to the hotel and grabbing my ticket to ride out of Dodge. The Beatles sign was being carefully taken down and the Late Show sign was back up.
There was a gentleman from Virginia with a grey beard standing by the Sullivan Theater. I snapped his picture for him in front of the marquee. Did he see The Beatles that night on Sullivan, I asked?
“Hardly!” he replied. “I was only one year old!”
It was time to get back, Jojo.