Readers remember Beatlemania

Josh Pennell
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Your memories of the fab four 50 years after they hit North America

It wasn’t just America that was swept with Beatlemania 50 years ago last week. The fab four — George, Ringo, Paul and John — made had their iconic television performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964 and Newfoundland and Labrador was watching. We asked you to share your memories of seeing/hearing The Beatles for the first time. Here’s what you gave to The Telegram.

The Beatles made their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” America’s must-see weekly variety show, on Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964, and officially kicked off Beatlemania. — File photo by The Associated Press

It was just before my fourth birthday but I remember staying up with my dad. He would read the newspaper while the television was on, periodically flipping the pages down to view something interesting that might come on the screen.

He used to sit with one leg crossed over the other and I used to pretend I was riding a horse climbing awkwardly around his knee.

When The Beatles appeared on stage to that classic Ed Sullivan introduction that eventful evening that is exactly what I was doing while noticing Dad flipping his Telegram down to take in the performance. And I, too, stared at the little black and white television screen. When the song was over my Dad said aloud, “Those boys are gonna be big.”

I was so young at the time, I didn’t know if he was speaking to me or to himself (most likely the latter). Because of my age I often thought I had dreamt it … it was magical. Years later I brought it up to him and he’d smile knowingly … like it was our little moment shared.

It was my Dad’s 45s that ignited my life-long passion for music. When I first got to play his Chuck Berry singles I completely flipped out.

This is my 30th year at Fred’s Records and one of the little joys I get to experience over and over is selling a Beatles record to a young customer. And on vinyl, no less.

It’s great to see so many young people coming to our store since the vinyl resurgence and discovering great, timeless recordings. My good friend, Matthew Hender (Long Distance Runners), and I are currently listing our Top 12 all-time Beatles songs to be discussed over a few pints in the near future as our 50th anniversary salute. We’ll go through each selection and discuss what it is that makes them great works of song. Someone once described the Beatles relationship with their fans as “the greatest romance of the 20th Century.” It continues to grow.

—Tony Ploughman


I was seven years old when The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan. My sister was 14 and was so excited about seeing them on TV. As a child I always thought that everything my teenage sister did was very exciting and so cool so naturally I wanted to watch The Beatles with her.

In 1964 I did not watch Ed Sullivan because it aired way past my bedtime and I begged and begged to be allowed to stay up “late” and watch it. It was a school night and my parents did not want me to stay up so late. I cried. I promised to be good forever. I begged some more but nothing was working. However, somehow my sister convinced my parents that this was an important event that should not be missed and I was allowed to stay up to see them. I was stoked!

When they came on my sister was crying and screaming and pulling on her hair just like the girls in the audience at the show. I looked back and forth from the TV to my sister wondering what all the fuss was about! I have never forgotten it. At the time I was more amazed by my sister than The Beatles. Now I love them both. My sister was right ... it was a significant event.

—Marilyn Miller


I was still in Ireland. I would have been 16 years old at the time. Aware of The Beatles but TV was not a huge part of my life at that time. We only had two stations. The radio was the thing for us.

We as teenagers were listening to Radio Luxembourg which was a station from Europe and it was about the only station that was playing rock and roll at the time before the pirate stations came in. And that’s where we’d hear The Beatles and of course The Beatles were a big, big thing obviously, as were all the Merseyside bands at the time. The Beatles opened the door for them. I don’t really recall being amazed that they had made it into America.  At that time when I was 16 or 17 there (were) bands everywhere and they were all rock and roll bands. But I missed the American invasion.

I was a musician at the time. I was playing music. I had studied piano as a kid but by about 14 years old I was starting to get into folk music but still listened to rock and roll, as well. The one thing I attribute in a lot of my singing was harmony singing because I always enjoyed singing harmony and was kind of a natural harmony singer. But The Beatles music was such that the harmonies were very much to the forefront and you could sing along with the harmonies. The early stuff that they were doing wasn’t that difficult to sing harmony to so you learned to sing harmony and that’s what I did. You’d hear it on the radio and you’d be singing along with the harmony. And that’s what sort of really triggered me to sort of naturally find harmonies in stuff. It was great practice to sing along with them.  

—Fergus O'Byrne


(“The Ed Sullivan Show”) was the first time I saw them. That was 50 years ago. Jane and I were just 33 then. Of course we’re getting a bit ancient now. A young cousin who had been to school in the UK had come back here to Newfoundland and, talking to her, she was raving about these musicians and singers called The Beatles. That’s why we decided to look at this Ed Sullivan program to see what they were like and who they were and how they sang. Their performance was marvelous. They were attractive and their singing was good. We were very impressed and became instantaneous fans. We were Beatle fans then and we’ve followed them ever since. The more you learned about them, the more impressive they were. So we may be old and we may be getting ancient but we still try to take everything in. We still get out around and take in a dance. We were at (a fundraiser) at the Newfoundland Hotel Friday night. The orchestra, one of our Newfoundland bands, played excellently well and they featured Beatles music all evening. So The Beatles are still present even when you just go out to an event like that.

—John Crosbie

Organizations: The Beatles, Newfoundland Hotel

Geographic location: North America, Ireland, Newfoundland Europe Merseyside America UK

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Recent comments

  • GINN
    February 17, 2014 - 09:27

    A little known fact - the Beatles first stop in North America was in Gander. Strong headwinds across the Atlantic made a refueling stop in Gander necessary. A another historic first for the province!

    • Jimmie
      February 17, 2014 - 12:50

      So true GINN. Friend of mine who has since passed away worked security at the Gander airport for most of his working life. He had a scrapbook of photos - some autographed, some not. Everyone from Elvis to Albert Einstein. Gander was a required fuel stop when coming across the pond.

    • Neil Earle
      February 18, 2014 - 15:17

      Thanks for reminding me of this if I ever knew it--they didn't call gander Crossroads of the World for nothing, yeah, yeah, yeah--NE