CHARLESTON, WV -- This Sunday will make 50 years since America first met four lads from Liverpool and began embracing their music as their own.
After the United States had witnessed the death of her president at the hands of an assassin, we were starving for something to help in the healing of our wounds. On February 9, 1964, Ed Sullivan introduced John, Paul, George and Ringo to a public looking for an escape from reality.
A record-setting 74 million viewers watched as the Fab Four sang "All My Loving," "Til There Was You," "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." With tousles of their mop tops and "woos" sang in unison, the Beatles cemented their place in history.
Despite their long locks, they were dressed in smart suits and took a bow as they finished their set at the direction of their manager Brian Epstein. Epstein crafted the group's image from leather-wearing toughs with greased-up ducktail haircuts to suave, trend-setting musicians. Their answers to news reporters were cheeky, and those accents only added to the charm.
Young men rushed to stores to buy ankle boots and to barber chairs to get bangs cut into a Beatle fringe. Teenage girls adorned their walls with magazine clippings and spun newly purchased 45s repeatedly.
I was born in 1982, 18 years after the Beatles made their debut on Sullivan. Sadly, I was never alive at the same time as all four Beatles. John Lennon was murdered more than a year before I arrived.
My first memories of hearing the Beatles was riding in my dad's truck when I was 8, listening to a compilation cassette that included the Beatles cover of "Please Mr. Postman."
When ABC aired "The Beatles Anthology" in 1995 detailing the group's entire career and featuring two brand-new songs, I was glued to the set. I saw the arrival at JFK Airport, the hordes of screaming teenagers waving banners and signs as they took those first steps off the plane. I watched the concert at Shea Stadium and heard the screams of fans drown out the music. I experienced the rooftop concert and wished I could've been there.
After that mini-series, I became obsessed with finding out everything I could about this group. I read every book and listened to every cassette I could convince my parents to buy me. I made a Beatles-themed shoebox to store my tapes. When the tape became strained with overplay, I painstakingly wound the reels with a pencil and mended it with tape.
I knew every song, every lyric, from the sweet, simple "Love Me Do" to "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Revolution" and "Helter Skelter."