It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 50 years since I took these pictures off of our TV screen. I remember that night like it was yesterday, in vivid detail.
The Beatles had just come to America for the first time, and I was counting down the days until they were scheduled to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. I had been soaking up every bit of news about the Beatles all week. In those days that meant listening to the radio as DJ’s gave a blow-by-blow account of what those “crazy lads from Liverpool” were doing.
My family and I were living in Rochester, NY at the time. I was not quite a teenager, and it was the very first time I fell in love. First with Paul, because he was the cutest and non-threatening. Later with John, because he was a bit rebellious and he appealed to the adventurous part of me that was emerging.
The day the Beatles were to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show just dragged by. Dinner was particularly excruciating and each minute seemed like an hour. My sister and I had commandeered the TV set and no one was getting near it to change the channel. It was a black & white set – a color TV was prohibitively expensive in those days. I don’t remember who had the idea to take pictures that night but luckily we had some film in the Instamatic. I took just four shots that night. It was the end of the roll and each click was precious and I remember waiting for the right moments.
I can see by the date stamps on the prints (March 1964), that it took us a month to get the film developed. That was record speed for my family. We usually had a year’s worth of holiday pictures on one roll of film when we dropped it off at the drug store for processing. Luckily the film in the camera was at the end of the roll that evening – otherwise it may have taken months to see photos.
I pasted those photos into my scrapbook almost 50 years ago and they’ve been there ever since, along with my other Beatle memorabilia including my ticket for their performance at Shea Stadium in 1966. We had moved to the NYC area about a year after I shot these photos, and I actually got to see the Beatles perform twice at Shea – ’65 and ’66.
As I look back at that night on February 9, 1964, I can see where my passion for recording moments in history came from and I’ve been photographing them ever since.