Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964 • Beatles appear on Ed Sullivan

Back in the day, the powers that be had pretty well squashed our homegrown American rock and roll scene. Elvis hit the charts hard in 1956, but then he was drafted into the Army in 1958. The King never completely recovered. Pat Boone whitened and sanitized songs such as Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” and the record labels offered us clean cut, pompadoured crooners and teen idols instead of the mostly Black and more obscure artists playing this new style of music.

The Beatles clown around with a future world champion boxer in 1964.

Ah, but far across the Atlantic in England, the kids abandoned skiffle — akin to American folk music — traded their acoustic guitars and washboards for electric guitars and drum kits and took up American rhythm and blues in earnest.

According to the legend, the sailors brought their rare American 45 RPM records with them to the seaport town of Liverpool and that music captured a pair of youngsters packed with talent and ambition — John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Rock bands rose all across England — an estimated 350 in Liverpool alone. In a few short years the Beatles’ music took them from the bars, dancehalls and theatres in Germany and England to launch the British Invasion and conquer America and the world.

How do you handle a mob of crazed teenage girls?

The Beatles juggernaut had been gaining steam since the release of “She Loves You” a few months earlier, and the mop tops’ follow up single, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” rose all the way to number one in America.

Sixty years ago today, Feb. 9, 1964, 73 million viewers tuned in to the black and white (I kid you not) Ed Sullivan television show, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The impact the Beatles had on popular music and culture cannot be overstated. They simply were the greatest attraction the world had ever seen. If you didn’t witness their rise, my words can never describe it to you.

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show — 60 years ago today. By the standards of the day, the Beatles’ hair seemed incredibly long.

At their first American press conference a reporter asked them if they would sing something. Lennon said no. Another reporter quickly asked if they could sing, and Lennon answered, “We need money first.”

On that day, rock and roll music, albeit with a decidedly English twist and some cheeky Scouser wit, joyfully returned with new passion to its birthplace — America.