February 9 is the anniversary of the Beatles’ magical debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Judith Reed West, author of “A Date With a Beatle,” her book about meeting up with George Harrison back in the day, has a vivid memory of that historic night thanks to what she wrote in her diary in 1964. That show has been released on DVD in a two-disc set that includes the Beatles’ appearances from 1964 and 1965. Here is some of what she wrote in her diary from that day. which she kindly offered to let us print:
“Sunday, February 9th, was like molasses in January, or February, well…you know what I mean. I don’t remember a day passing by so slowly in all of my fifteen years on Planet Earth. Every hour was another countdown for me: ten hours and they’re on…nine hours and they’re on… torture, torture, torture!
“A few gal pals called: Pat, my old friend Doris G., and of course, Shelly, but we were all so excited about ‘The Sullivan Show’ we really weren’t very good conversation for one another. I cleaned my room, tacked up a few more George pictures on my mirror – there was no space left on the walls or ceiling – and I took our darling mutt, Buttons, out for a walk. Still it was only 2 p.m.
“I decided to iron some of my school clothes, then I helped Mom set the table for dinner, all the while listening to Beatles music and updates through the earpiece in my faithful transistor radio. By the time dinner rolled around I was too jumpy to eat. Mom was a great cook and a Sunday pork roast with all the fixin’s was my favorite, but I just pushed the food around on my plate. “’Aren’t you feeling well?’ Mom asked. ‘I’ve got an acute case of Beatle-itis,’ I said. ‘It’ll be over by 9:00 PM.’ My mother shook her head at me. By the time I helped Mom wash the dishes and I took Buttons out for another walk, it was 7 p.m.
“One hour to go. Thank heaven! I ran upstairs and brought my favorite, framed picture of George back down with me. I turned the dial on the old Motorola back and forth: ABC, NBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, CBS. Anything to distract me and make the time go by faster.
“FINALLY…it was 8 p.m.! And about Mr. Sullivan? I used to think Ed liked teenagers, you know, he introduced America to Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly…. I remember seeing all those guys on his show. They were great! But when THEEE show came on, Ed made us wait almost twenty-five minutes before we got to see The Beatles! But, oh, God…unfair as it seemed initially, it was so worth the wait.
“The time finally came and, as I sat just as close to the TV screen as was humanly possible, just me and seventy-three million other Americans heard these exact words: ‘Now yesterday and today our theater’s been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that the city never has seen the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool, who call themselves The Beatles. Now tonight, you’re gonna twice be entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen…The BEATLES! Let’s bring them on!”
As if I wasn’t enough in love with these guys, ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ sealed it up for me. WOW! WOW! WOW! And WOW!!!!! When they first stepped out on the stage they opened with Paul McCartney singing ‘All My Loving’ and I was immediately in Liverpudlian heaven. Funny but I never saw the need to scream at a television set before that in my entire life! Oh, well.
“By the time the show was over, Paul had also crooned ‘Till There Was You,’ John sang, ‘She Loves You,’ Paul sang, ‘I Saw Her Standing There,’ and John ended the night with, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand.” George and Ringo didn’t get to sing, but they were so cute! Ringo must love to play the drums. He just sat up there and smiled and shook his shaggy head the whole time. He was totally adorable!
“And Mr. Harrison? Well, George had this beautiful crooked smile, and when he sang harmony, his lip curled up a bit and…and he was absolutely gorgeous! Oh, what a wonderful feeling to be 15 and in love with an unavailable 20-year-old musician from a foreign country.”
West’s diary entry from the day before shows more on how she felt about her favorite Beatle George Harrison.
“February 8th, 1964… The first thing I found out on the radio this morning was that George has a cold and was unable to go out for a photo session with the other guys. I heard that his sister, Louise, came in to take care of him. I think I read she lives in Illinois now??? I’ll find out for sure. WOW!!!
“I just thought of something, that means when I was about three feet away from him, okay maybe four feet away from him, he was sick yesterday and, MAYBE, just maybe some of his cold germs blew my way. I’ve never prayed for a cold in my life, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to have one induced by George Harrison??!!!!!!!! A special diary entry will immediately occur upon the first sign of the sniffles.”