You might have heard somewhere that Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
And while that appearance was the most world-changing of the group’s career — if not all of rock music’s — so much fascinating video from the rest of the band’s seven years in prominence is overlooked. So, we are using this anniversary as an excuse to revisit not only the Fab Four’s most legendary TV performances, but also some that are surprisingly little-known. Because it was impossible to perform on as many TV shows as they were asked, the Beatles were one of if not the first artists to pioneer the music video, and the Gordian knot of the group’s legal affairs has meant that some of these, particularly “The Ballad of John and Yoko” and the brilliant 1967 video for “A Day in the Life,” are seldom seen.
To keep things interesting, we skipped videos from feature films (A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine, and Let It Be), as well as the more well-known full-length concert films (Live at the Washington Coliseum 1964, The Beatles at Shea Stadium, and the excruciatingly off-key although well-filmed Live at Budokan 1966). We also use the term “TV performance” loosely to include live footage, mimed videos, filmed concerts, etc. — meaning there are actually more like 50 performances here, not 15.
Sit back and dig into some rarely turned stones from the most thoroughly documented musical group in history. (Much respect to The Beatles Bible and Mark Lewisohn’s The Beatles Recording Sessions for the bulk of the recording details posted here.)