50 years ago this February, made their network TV debut in America on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was a seminal moment in music and television history as the Lads from Liverpool were brought into homes across America, sparking a wave of fandom that has yet to cease and has since spread worldwide.


To mark this golden anniversary, the city of Los Angeles was the site of a stunning tribute to the legendary band as a cavalcade of performers and celebrities gathered to display their instrumental and vocal prowess on a wealth of the group’s most notable (and a few obscure) songs and offer commentary on what makes such an enduring force in society. That this event occurred one day after and in the same complex as the 56th annual Grammy Awards made it even more memorable as so many notable musicians were already in town. In a way it was a sequel to the Grammys, but with a more unified concept: paying homage to most significant band of the 20th century.

The Los Angeles Convention Center is in no way thought of as a concert venue, but this was first and foremost a TV taping and the cavernous hall provided an abundance of space for camera equipment and an accommodating layout for three IMAX-size screens flanking the stage to display music videos and film clips between songs as well as colorful animations during the performances. In what turned out to be a marathon nearly four hour affair, were the first of many artists to deliver their renditions of classic Beatles material. There were rumors and confirmations of who would be in attendance for this historic night, but surprises were still plentiful. Comedian briefly amused the large crowd and added pre-recorded narration to biographical segments on bandmates John, Paul, George and Ringo. A-List actors were on hand to introduce most of the acts and TV and motion picture stars including , , , , and made the most of their brief speeches. captivated the room with only his voice and a guitar while other guests were backed by a top notch house band including on guitar, on bass, on drums, three background singers and four horn players, among others. The organizers spared no expense in arranging and inviting some of the biggest names to toast .

and performed a piano duet on “Let it Be”, offered a stripped-down take on “Revolution”, impressed with her range in tackling “Yesterday”, reunited to perform “The Fool on the Hill”, gave the room a shot in the arm with versions of “Hey Bulldog” (accompanied by ) and a positively crushing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with and Gary Clark Jr. The list of musicians in the house was seemingly endless: , , , , and all did justice and gave new twists to these unforgettable songs while the troupe from LOVE in Las Vegas added aerial feats to the evening’s entertainment. Fortunately this was not a one-sided showering of praise as the recipients of these accolades, Ringo and Paul, would also perform solo sets to the delight of the audience before collaborating to the absolute thrill of everyone in the room and, surely, even those who could not be there in person. To see the two surviving Beatles genuinely enjoy each other’s company and trade off on “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “Hey Jude” was an incredibly joyous moment that has not yet even begun to sink in. I can only remain grateful that I was able to join in the celebration and look forward to experiencing it from a different perspective when the special airs on CBS on February 9th.


SETLIST: The Night That Changed America @ Los Angeles Convention Center 1/27/14

(All songs with the House Band unless otherwise noted)

All My Loving ( Ed Sullivan Show clip > only)
Ticket to Ride ( only)
Don’t Let Me Down ( and )
In My Life ( only)
Let it Be ( and )
Revolution ( only)
Yesterday ()
The Fool on The Hill ()
Here Comes the Sun (, and Cirque du Soleil)
Hey Bulldog ( and )
Something (, and )
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Gary Clark Jr., and on drums)
We Can Work It Out ()
We Can Work It Out (Take 2 – )
Matchbox ()
Boys ()
Yellow Submarine ()
Magical Mystery Tour ()*
Birthday ()*
Get Back ()*
I Saw Her Standing There ()*
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band ()*
With a Little Help From My Friends ( and on vocals)*
Hey Jude (, on drums, Cirque du Soleil and all guests on vocals)*

* with ’s Band