The Beatles had wowed US television audiences during their first three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, recorded in February 1964 during their first American visit. On this day they made a fourth and final appearance.
They were driven to CBS-TV’s Studio 50 in the morning of 14 August 1965, in a convoy of limousines. Rehearsals took place from 11am-2pm, as The Beatles were unhappy with the initial sound balance and continued work until they were satisfied. A dress rehearsal took place from 2.30pm in front of a studio audience of 700, and the show itself was recorded from 8.30pm.
There was a short break after Act Naturally, after which The Beatles returned to perform the remaining three songs with a different stage set. Ticket To Ride included a lengthy introduction during which the cameras panned to each of the group. Paul McCartney sang Yesterday with a pre-recorded string trio backing, after which John Lennon remarked “Thank you Paul, that was just like him”. Lennon, meanwhile, forgot some of the lyrics to Help!.
The audience was out there, and we were kind of very new to America – loving it, but a little bit scared, and I had to do Yesterday, my song, on my own, and I’d never done this, I’d always had the band with me, but suddenly they said, ‘You’re doing Yesterday,’ so I said, ‘OK’. So I was standing there – ‘come on, get it together, it’s OK’ – and the floor manager, the guy on the curtain, came up to me and said, ‘You nervous?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘You should be, there’s 73 million people watching.’
The Late Show with David Letterman, July 2009
The edition of the The Ed Sullivan Show was screened on 12 September 1965 at 8pm EST. Other acts making an appearance were Cilla Black, Soupy Sales, Allen and Rossi, and Fantasio the Magician. The broadcast received a 60% share of the night time audience.
Despite being their final live appearance, in future years The Beatles gave a number of promotional clips to be debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show.