On Feb. 9, 1964, a little band called the Beatles performed for the first time on “Ed Sullivan.” It was a rilly big shew, as Ed used to say, and it’s not even slightly hyperbolic to say that it changed pop culture forever. Half a century later, the effects of that one monumental night are still being felt.
And roughly half a century later, on Jan. 27, the Recording Academy hosted “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles” at the Los Angeles Convention Center, making full use of the all-stars in town from the previous night’s Grammy Awards, including surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr themselves. The concert aired on this past Sunday — exactly 50 years to the day, date, and time of the Fab Four’s original “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance — on Sullivan’s old network, CBS.
“We’re not really trying to recreate that night; all we can do is celebrate it,” explained Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich at the start of the historical concert, before a rotating cast of very different A-list artists, all united by their love for the Beatles, took the stage with very different results.
Among the best tributes of the night were the reunited Eurythmics doing “Fool on the Hill,” with Annie Lennox, resplendent in a floor-sweeping bronze ball gown, delivering a theatrical and borderline-unhinged performance; piano soul stylists Alicia Keys and John Legend teaming up for a positively stunning “Let It Be”; Stevie Wonder, perfectionist that he is, running through two attempts at a funky remake of “We Can Work It Out”; George Harrison’s onetime Traveling Wilburys crony Jeff Lynne and Eagles’s Joe Walsh joining George’s son Dhani for a lovely cover of “Something,” while George’s widow Olivia beamed in the audience; and another George tribute, an absolutely incendiary “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” by Joe Walsh and Gary Clark Jr., with the Foo Fighters’s Dave Grohl on drums.
excerpts from article by Lyndsay Parker, Yahoo Music