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Posted at 10:31 AM ET, 02/ 9/2011

When The Post panned the Beatles

By Elizabeth Flock
cezanne
From left: Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Ed Sullivan, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. (AP)

Postie Melissa Bell writes on BlogPost today of a time when "not everyone was a fan of the four mop tops," including ourselves.

The four young men who first appeared on U.S. television on "The Ed Sullivan Show" forty-seven years ago changed music and television history. Their viewers numbered 74 million -- an incredible 40 percent of the population. This past Super Bowl Sunday, which was pronounced the show with the most number of eyeballs ever, got just 36 percent.

Despite the popular vote for the Beatles' "Ed Sullivan" appearance, The Post was harshly critical.


Reporter Lawrence Laurent wrote about that first show on Feb. 12, 1964:

The first of three appearances by The Beatles on the "Ed Sullivan Show" last Sunday night demonstrated, once more, that our adolescents don't know the difference between parody and the real thing. For that matter, neither do the Beatles.

They are, apparently, part of some kind of malicious, bi-lateral entertainment trade agreement. The British have to sit through dozens of dreadful American television programs. In return, we get the Beatles. As usual, we got gypped. Nothing we have exported in recent years quite justifies imported hillbillies who look like sheep dogs and sound like alley cats in agony.

There was once an intentional trade that is comparable, in reverse. The Soviet Union sent us the Moiseyev Dancers and we sent them Ed Sullivan. ...

Much of last Sunday's audience was created by plain curiosity. People wanted to know what all the shrieking is about and they got an answer -- four quite ordinary musicians who happen to have unusually good diction for their own field.

The haircuts can be seen on almost any street corner and young boys insist their clothing be shrunk until it is three sizes too small. The Beatles do offer some relief from the folk singers and our young do need some reason to scream. Those of us who are old enough to vote will simply have to endure one more monstrosity created by mass media.

Bell notes that we've changed our tune over the years. "Still, it's amusing to look back at our paper's misguided youth," she writes.

By Elizabeth Flock  | February 9, 2011; 10:31 AM ET
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