This Historic Day In Music: February 9, 1961 & 1964

On Thursday, February 9, 1961, The Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe – performed for the first time at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.

Here’s a photo of the Fab Five taken on August 17, 1960, at the Indra Club in Hamburg, Germany. (L-R: John, George, Pete, Paul & Stuart)

The Cavern Club was located in the cellar – 18 steps down from street level – of a 7-story former fruit and vegetable warehouse at 10 Matthew Street in the Liverpool city center. The claustrophobic venue had bare brick walls and arches, no ventilation, tables or carpets and a small, two-foot-high stage that was dimly illuminated by a minimal set of 60-watt white light bulbs.

The Beatles’ gig that day at The Cavern was a lunchtime session, running from 12:00-2:00 pm. Admission to the show was one sterling and the band was paid 5 pounds. But since these lunchtime sessions had only been going on for a few months and the membership of the club drew from parts of Liverpool where The Beatles hadn’t been yet, The Cavern was half empty on that Thursday afternoon.

On Sunday, February 9, 1964, The Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – performed for the first time in America.

They played at CBS Television’s Studio 50. The studio was located in a 13-story building – initially called The Hammerstein Theatre and built in the 1920’s – at 1697 Broadway, Manhattan, New York, New York.

Studio 50 was home to The Ed Sullivan Show; an immensely popular, hour-long variety program that was broadcast live on CBS every Sunday evening from 8:00-9:00 pm.

The Beatles’ first performed in the afternoon of February 9, playing three songs for an enthusiastic studio audience of 728 people. This appearance was taped for the Sunday, February 23 broadcast of The Ed Sullivan Show.

The Beatles’ second performance on February 9 was for The Ed Sullivan Show’s live nationally broadcast program, starting at 8:00 pm. That performance – three songs at the beginning of the show and two songs in the second half – was seen by a different studio audience and a television audience estimated to number 73,000,000 people in 23,240,000 homes across America.

I was one of those 73,000,000.

Here’s a photo of the band playing “I Saw Her Standing There” from the second part of the Sunday evening performance.

CBS Television received 50,000 requests for tickets to the February 9 shows.

The Beatles were paid $10,000.00 plus travel expenses for these two and one other appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The other appearance was a live performance on Sunday, February 16 from the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.

February 9, 1961 – February 9, 1964. What a different three years can make!

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4 Responses to This Historic Day In Music: February 9, 1961 & 1964

  1. TPS says:

    I was one of those watching as well. So exciting! The dawn of Beatlemania and the British Invasion. Rock & Roll, and ultimately the world, would never be the same.

  2. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    I was born 3 years after they appeared in America but if a Time Machine ever comes into being…I want to see a Cavern show!

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