A Trivia Quiz about the Live US TV Debut of the Beatles

On the evening of February 9, 1964, the Beatles, an English rock band that was taking the popular music world by storm, made their first U.S. live television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Try your luck with our trivia questions to find out how much you know about the Beatles, their meteoric rise, and the impact of their live TV debut in America.


How Did Sullivan First Learn of the Beatles? # Beatlemania reached a fever pitch in the United States when the Fab Four made their live American TV debut on Ed Sullivan's popular Sunday night variety show. On October 31, 1963, Ed Sullivan and his wife were traveling through London's Heathrow Airport when they spotted throngs of teenagers on the rooftop of the Queen's Building and on the ground as well. Sullivan asked what was going on and was told that the teens were awaiting the arrival of the Beatles from a tour of Sweden. "Who the hell are the Beatles?" Sullivan reportedly asked. Told that they were a well-known pop group in England, he decided he would make inquiries about booking the British quartet for his popular Sunday night show.

How Much Were the Beatles Paid by Sullivan? # Syndicated columnist Ed Sullivan hosted a Sunday night variety show on TV that showcased some of the world's most popular performers. His interest piqued by the enthusiastic fans awaiting the Beatles at Heathrow, Sullivan agreed to a meeting with Beatles manager Brian Epstein, when the latter visited New York on business less than two weeks after the Heathrow incident. According to an entry in Epstein's diary, the two first met on November 11, 1963, in Sullivan's suite at the Delmonico Hotel. That initial meeting was followed up by a dinner meeting at the hotel's restaurant the following night. From their negotiations emerged an agreement under which Sullivan would pay the Beatles $10,000 in exchange for three appearances on his show. In addition, Sullivan agreed to pay the group's transportation and lodging expenses. Although Epstein realized that the appearance fee for the Beatles was low (Sullivan sometimes paid top performers $10,000 for a single appearance), he felt that the American exposure for the group would be invaluable.


Who Formed the Band? The moving force behind the Beatles was John Lennon, who in March 1957 put together a band made up of fellow Liverpool area musicians. In July 1957, rhythm guitarist Paul McCartney, then 15, joined the group, then known as the Quarrymen. Not long thereafter McCartney persuaded Lennon to let 14-year-old George Harrison join the band. In January 1960, Lennon's art school classmate, Stuart Sutcliffe, joined the band, which by August 1960 was calling itself the Beatles. The band's membership grew to five members that same month when drummer Pete Best joined the group. Some of the band's earliest success came from its appearances in nightclubs in Hamburg, Germany. Sutcliffe dropped out of the band in early 1961, and in August 1962 the Beatles replaced drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr. From that point on, the Beatles consisted of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr.

What Beatles Songs Were Banned by the BBC? As the United Kingdom's public service broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation has always felt a responsibility for maintaining certain standards of taste and decency. In that role, the BBC banned a number of songs, including a handful of tunes made popular by the Beatles. The broadcaster refused to play "I Am a Walrus," objecting in particular to its references to "pornographic priestesses" and "let your knickers down." Drug references in "A Day in the Life," "Fixing a Hole," and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" prompted the BBC to also ban those songs.

Photo credits: gnotalex, James Vaughan

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