The Gate Arrival Heard 'Round The World: The Beatles Meet America

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It was 50 years ago today, that the Sergeant taught the band to -- sorry, wrong anniversary. 

On February 7, 1964, The Beatles landed at the newly-renamed JFK Airport to cries of "Elvis Is Dead, Stay With Us Forever" and other well-wishes. The band's performance, two days later, on the Ed Sullivan Show is now part of rock 'n' roll legend. 

In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Allan Kozinn -- New York Times cultural critic and author of a biography of The Beatles -- puts the Fab Four's visit in context.

Hindsight being 20/20, watch archival footage of the band's arrival and ask yourself, with NBC's Chet Huntley, "what the fuss was about":

 

Interview Highlights

New York Times critic Allan Kozinn, on a coincidental also-ran from The Beatles' first Ed Sullivan Show performance:

In the first show, there was a scene from Oliver!, which starred Georgia Brown, but also the Artful Dodger was a young David Jones, who later became Davy Jones of The Monkees. So it's kind of interesting that on that one show you had The Beatles and their eventual TV imitators. 

On why classical music authorities like Glenn Gould, Leonard Bernstein, et al, were excited by The Beatles:

I think they saw that there was something going on there: interesting harmonic progressions... The Beatles tended, except in few cases, to avoid the basic I-IV-V progression that is the blues progression, the heart of a lot of rock. They tended to like unusual chords, unusual harmonies, they were great melodists. Leonard Bernstein called them "the Schuberts of our time."