The Ed Sullivan Show

 Audio Guide

Narrated by Joel Peresman, President & CEO of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


The Ed Sullivan Show was one of the highest rated television variety shows to ever reach the American audience, a fact made clear by the 70 million-strong audience tuning in for the Beatles’ debut performances over three consecutive Sunday evenings in February of 1964. The start of the British Invasion can be traced to the first show with the Beatles which aired on February 9, 1964. When the band played the opening strains of “All My Loving,” fans in the studio audience and at home went wild. The popularity of these broadcasts re-established The Ed Sullivan Show’s cultural dominance, shining a spotlight also on other musicians who performed with the Beatles. Cab Calloway, who shared the stage with the Beatles the third night they were broadcast, saw his fame surge after appearing with them. The Ed Sullivan Show also featured controversial live performances. In 1956, Elvis Presley was famously shown only from the waist up, hiding his twisting hips from viewers at home. In addition to popularizing Elvis and the Beatles for a US audience, The Ed Sullivan Show became known as a means for many musical groups to gain widespread fame by introducing countless stars of rock and roll to its viewers year after year. The Supremes, Janis Joplin, the Dave Clark Five, the Rolling Stones, and the Doors, are just a few of the many musical talents to play the show, gaining generations of American fans in the process.