The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles


Fifty years ago yesterday, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in what CBS would call “The Night that Changed America.” To honor this landmark event, The Grammy’s spent two and a half hours commemorating, or saluting, this legendary band. It was tragic to see that the “Fab Four” were missing two faces; still, it was a night of music and celebration that had people cheering, singing, and dancing, including a shamelessly wild Yoko Ono. Many celebrities showed up to pay tribute to the honorees, including LL Cool J, a spaced out Johnny Depp, a gorgeous Kate Beckinsale, Jeff Bridges, Tom Hanks, David Letterman, and more. There were snippets of the actual Ed Sullivan performance, as well interviews of people who had been there to witness this milestone fifty years ago. David Letterman even brought Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the only two Beatles remaining, back onto the original stage to revisit that epic night.

Most notable of all were the performances; renowned artists who talked about The Beatles’ influence and then covered some of the group’s biggest hits. Performances included All My Loving and Ticket to Ride by Maroon 5, which I didn’t love; We Can Work It Out by Stevie Wonder, who infused some funk into the song; Let It Be by John Legend and Alicia Keys, whose beautiful vocals left me mesmerized; Yesterday by Katy Perry, which I wasn’t crazy about; Revolution by Imagine Dragons, which was awesome; Here Comes the Sun by Pharrell Williams and Brad Paisley, which I found pleasantly surprising; Hey Bulldog by Dave Grohl and Jeff Lynne, plus many more. These songs were just a snapshot of The Beatles’ extensive catalogue; a brief glimpse at their versatile skill set and musical range, spanning and fusing multiple genres and showing that this band really could play it all. Ringo and Paul also gave separate performances, proving that they can still rock the stage fifty years later. And then came the night’s main event: a reunion of the only two Beatles left. The pair appropriately opened up With a Little Help from My Friends, and then closed out the show spectacularly with the quintessential Beatles song: Hey Jude, which had everybody in the audience joyfully singing along.

But what I loved most were the short biographical videos of each Beatle. Here, we saw four young men coming together to form a band, all donning Elvis-style haircuts. At the time, none of them knew where that band would take them. They didn’t know that their music would leave a mark on history or that their songs would influence generations of musicians to come. They didn’t know that one day, they would become as monumental as the man who inspired their hairstyles; or that one day, they would inspire millions to adopt their own. It’s astonishing really. If one thing had happened differently, just one simple thing, then there never would’ve been a group called The Beatles.

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  1. […] I spent yesterday writing about The Beatles, I completely missed an historic landmark: the 10th anniversary of College Dropout. That’s right. […]