They’re taking over Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor for a whole weekend—February 7, 8, and 9—almost precisely 50 years after the start of the Beatles’ first U.S. visit.
Yes, it has been 50 years since John, Paul, George and Ringo landed on our shores, to become the most indelible rock band the world has ever known.
Record stores across America had signs that read “The Beatles Are Coming” plastered all over, heralding the arrival of England’s pop sensation. The Beatles earliest records had just been released in the U.S., and Beatlemania was just starting to spread beyond the U.K. The band came to America to appear live on the enormously popular Ed Sullivan Show for three consecutive Sundays and to play several other concerts to promote their recordings.
The Beatles WERE coming, and the world would never be quite the same.
What the Beatles achieved musically continues to inspire awe and, with every new generation, continues to attract new fans. The Beatles’ recordings remain some of the best-selling of all time. Then there’s Beatlemania. In recent years, sociologists have published research that seeks to show that Beatlemania, 1964-65’s mass hysteria that struck mostly girls in their early teens, was in fact a crucial ingredient in the women’s liberation movement that took hold in the early ’70s. Their theory is that the Fab Four, with their long hair and their carefree, liberated ways, proved an irresistible lure for young women to try to break out of their own, confined roles—Beatlemania gave young girls a taste for freedom.
Bay Street Theatre is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moment when it all started.
The festivities start Friday, February 7, at 8 p.m. with a special screening of rare archival films and live performances compiled by Joe Lauro, one of the weekend’s organizers. “I’ve got some great clips,” says Lauro. “Not just of the boys, but of the fans.” Among the treats included is footage of the legendary arrival at Kennedy Airport (nobody expected such a large turnout for their arrival), selections from Beatles press conferences (they were well-known for cracking wise and witty with the press), plus classic performances by the Beatles, of course, and by contemporaries playing their music.
Saturday, February 8, at 8 p.m., gets even more exciting as an assemblage of great local musicians take turns performing their favorite Beatle tunes. Lauro will play bass, and his band the Hoo-Doo Loungers will make up the core of the house band. Other local luminaries joining in will include Mick Hargreaves and Gene Casey. Randolph Hudson will provide the authentic Beatles touch as he wields the Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar and an electric sitar—providing two George Harrison trademarks that were essential to the Beatles’ distinctive sound.
On Sunday, February 9, at 7 p.m., Bay Street will screen, in its entirety, the first Ed Sullivan Show that the Beatles appeared on. The show was originally broadcast live on February 9, 1964, and so Bay Street’s screening will take place 50 years, to the day, of the original air date.
For Lauro, the screening will be a trip down memory lane, a look back at what set him on his own life path.
“I remember watching that show. I was 6 years old, and my sister was a first generation Beatlemaniac, so we knew what was happening. I’ll never forget watching that first performance!”
In fact, it was from watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan that Lauro decided to start playing an instrument. “Paul McCartney became my idol,” recalls Lauro, “and so I took up the bass.” Lauro wasn’t alone. Legend has it that so many young boys were inspired by watching Ringo play the drums that Ludwig, the maker of Ringo’s drum set, couldn’t keep up with demand.
Along with the full weekend of entertainment, Bay Street has also arranged to host an exhibition of Beatles memorabilia. Collector Steven Green will be showcasing historic treasures from the heyday of Beatles merchandising as well as rare autographed material.
Tickets are available for individual events, or you can get a Fab Four Fan Pass for $40, which will get you in to all three fabulous events. Many free HarborFrost events will also be talking place this weekend as Sag Harbor celebrates this annual, village-wide event.
Get your tickets now—you won’t want to miss this. Beatlemania is BACK!
For more information, go to baystreet.org.