Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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February 9, 2014

50 Years Ago Today YEAH, YEAH, YEAH!

We could never be the same after Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A 62-year-old television icon paced nervously before a black-and-white camera and then spoke, modestly, on behalf of not only himself, but those caught up in the whirlwind around him.

It was just a few seconds after 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964, when everything in America changed.

“I was 16 years old and our librarian at Alden Central used to cut out newspaper articles and save them for us, so my girlfriends and I knew the Beatles were coming,” said Trish McWhorter of Attica.

“We couldn’t wait to see them on television.”

Ed Sullivan fully understood the importance of his impending introduction of a rock’n roll band called the Beatles — especially on this night with an estimated 73 million fellow countrymen watching — and the weight it would carry to further the career of anyone featured on his weekly, nationally televised variety show.

The anticipation had been building for weeks not only in all the major cities, including New York City where the Ed Sullivan Show was broadcast live, but in communities of all sizes across the country, especially here in Western New York where a string of hit records had made a sudden sensation out of a band from Liverpool, England.

Families and friends gathered around their television sets on a cold winter night and waited nervously.

The volume went up on that huge, box-shaped piece of furniture on four legs that took up a huge chunk of the living room. The big, round upper VHF dial (as with the lower or adjacent UHF dial) had to be turned by hand and the antenna carefully manipulated with skill and always a little luck. We were all taught to change the channels slowly, one at a time, but everyone whipped the dial around most of the time — especially that night — and it went straight to Channel 4.

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