10 Rocking ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ Performances

Ed Sullivan with The Beatles
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY JEFF TAMARKIN AND PUBLISHED BY BEST CLASSIC BANDS ON JANUARY 15, 2019.

There was a time in America when Sunday night meant The Ed Sullivan Show. With its consistently strong ratings, a booking on the variety program was a golden opportunity for performers of any stripe, whether a puppeteer, plate spinner, comic or rock ’n’ roll band, and everyone, it seemed—young and old—was in front of a TV set to watch the former newspaperman and his guests at the end of every weekend.

Sullivan wasn’t a rock fan but he didn’t let his indifference show, as some other hosts did. He was happy to present the biggest acts of the day and, of course, was instrumental in breaking some of the all-time greats, particularly Elvis Presley and the Beatles. He showcased R&B artists, including many of the Motown performers, and every type of rock band and solo artist. No matter how cool they thought they were, few turned him down (although Bob Dylan did walk off the set when told he could not sing the song he wanted to). Even if you’d played the hippest venues, you didn’t really “make it” until you’d been on Sullivan.

Here are 10 classic Ed Sullivan Show performances.

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