Rehearsal for The Ed Sullivan Show

In the morning a press conference was held in the Baroque Room at New York’s Plaza Hotel, where The Beatles were staying. Following this John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr went for a walk and photo opportunity in Central Park, where their every move was followed by around 400 female fans.

George Harrison was suffering from a streptococcal sore throat, and so remained in the Plaza. He was joined there by his sister Louise Caldwell, a resident of Illinois.

The doctor said he couldn’t do The Ed Sullivan Show because he had a temperature of 104! But they pumped him with everything. He was thinking about getting a nurse to administer the medicine, every hour on the hour. Then the doctor suddenly realised that I was there and was his sister and he said to me, ‘Would you see to it? It’s probably just as well that you’re here because I don’t think there’s a single female in the city that isn’t crazy about The Beatles! You’re probably the only one who could function around him normally’.
Louise Caldwell
The Beatles Off The Record, Keith Badman

At 1.30pm The Beatles – minus George – travelled by limousine to the CBS studios on Broadway for the first of several rehearsals for their debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. During the journey their cars were charged by fans, and mounted police were forced to intervene to keep order.

Ten mounted police guarded the studios along with 52 officers while The Beatles were inside. Their first duty was to join AFRA, the American equivalent of the Musicians’ Union.

For the rehearsal Neil Aspinall stood in for George, as did production assistant Vince Calandra, while the director rehearsed the camera positions for the following day’s filming.

The first thing I noticed about them was that they were very polite and very professional. I remember the picture of Ed Sullivan with The Beatles’ wig and his comment, when George was ill, ‘He’d better show up tomorrow ‘cos I’ll be the fourth Beatle!’ And he put the wig on. I also stood in for George that day for camera rehearsals.
Vince Calandra
The Beatles Off The Record, Keith Badman

Afterwards The Beatles asked to see a playback of their rehearsal, which no other musical act had previously asked for. The group was also interviewed by The Ronettes.

In the evening Lennon, McCartney and Starr went to the 21 restaurant with George Martin and executives from Capitol Records. The Beatles ate chops while their music industry companions had pheasant.

Last updated: 3 March 2023
Radio: Saturday Club
The Beatles' first Ed Sullivan Show
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