In the Eckhartz Press book "Records Truly Is My Middle Name", John Landecker also tells several stories about the Beatles. He interviewed George Harrison and tells that story in the book. His interview with George, as a matter of fact, is featured on "Records Truly Is My Middle Name, The Soundtrack", if you'd like to hear it. It's a good one.
But John also writes about his memories of that iconic cultural milestone of the night the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan. In some ways, John's take is typical of many Baby Boomers. In one way, it's very different...and very Landecker.
Mr. Berg, my choir director and the music teacher at University High, totally pooh-poohed the Beatles. He insisted that anybody could write a Beatles or rock and roll song. Mr. Berg’s reaction was the stereotypical parental reaction to the music we loved. Everybody’s parents felt the same way.
I remember stickers appearing on lampposts. Four heads of hair with no faces and the expression “The Beatles are Coming!” They were already on the radio, but this hype from Capitol Records made us even more excited. The Beatles were the quintessential rock band. They were a group, but they also had separate identities as individuals, and each of those individuals had a distinct personality. Paul was the teen idol, the cute one. George was the introspective quiet one. Ringo was sort of the silly one. And John was the deep thinking rebel.
So, it was a huge deal when the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. I watched, and everybody else watched. But honestly, what I remember the most about their appearing on that show wasn’t that first night — it was their second appearance on the show, the show from Miami a few days later. And what I remember isn’t what the Beatles or Ed Sullivan did. What I remember most was the guest right before the Beatles — Mitzi Gaynor. She was a pop singer, the kind of singer that existed before rock and roll, a female crooner, if you will. It was really hot that night — this was Miami — and she was wearing a low cut dress that showed a little bit of cleavage, and I could see her sweating. Oh yeah, I tell ya, I remember seeing that sweat.
The Beatles were great, don’t get me wrong. I’ve played them on the air many, many times and still love their music, and I’ve never played or owned a single Mitzi Gaynor record in my entire life. But oh boy, I sure do remember Mitzi Gaynor on that Ed Sullivan show.