When The Beatles stepped onto Sullivan’s New York stage on Sunday, February 9, 1964, to make their American TV debut, 86 percent of all TVs on at that hour – 73 million Americans – tuned in. It was the most-watched program in history to that point and remains one of the most-watched programs of all time.
Nearly 50 years after the four landmark live performances of The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” those legendary appearances with newly remastered audio and carefully restored video will finally be made available worldwide on home video through a major distributor. It was announced today by Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) and SOFA Entertainment that “The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Beatles” was released September 7, 2010, by UMe, a division of Universal Music Group, the world’s leading music company. The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Beatles was produced by SOFA Entertainment.
“The Beatles changed music and popular culture forever,” says Bruce Resnikoff, President & CEO, UMe. “This DVD collection contains treasured performances and UME is thrilled to bring these milestones of music and television history to fans, whether they saw the shows the first time or have never seen them.”
“We used the full extent of today’s technology,” says Andrew Solt, Executive Producer and CEO of SOFA Entertainment, which purchased all 1,050 hours of “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1990. “The quality is better than it ever was, in fact, better than when the shows aired, especially visually. For example, the February 16 performance was from Miami’s Deauville Hotel, not from a studio. The quality of the tape image was very fragile. We went back and improved it frame by frame.”
With a running time of more than 250 minutes, The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Beatles presents those shows uncut, including not only all of the other performances but also all of the original commercials. The audio is available in both mono and a 5.1 remix. Also included on the two-DVD set will be material from other “Sullivan” shows, notably a short interview with The Beatles which has not been seen since its original television airing in 1964.
Few moments of The Beatles’ performances had ever been seen before a similar DVD package debuted in 2003, but distribution was via a small independent company. Now through UMe, The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Beatles will be widely available at traditional retail as well as non-traditional retail such as book stores, major department stores, specialty and high-end stores.
In addition, the new DVD set has been augmented with approximately 13 minutes of additional footage. The added material, rare Beatles-related gems from other “Sullivan” shows, is placed at the end of each disc. Among them is a brief London interview with The Beatles by Sullivan which has not been seen since the day it aired (May 24, 1964); a 1966 black-and-white commercial for Beatles dolls introduced by Sullivan in color; and the host reading a 1967 telegram from The Beatles congratulating him on the renaming of the studio to “The Ed Sullivan Theater.”
“Usually when there is a major historic moment, it’s seen on every channel,” notes Solt. “What makes the first Beatles performance so unusual is that ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ was the only place you could see it. Even though their music was everywhere, we had never seen them live. It was a shared joyous moment for an entire generation and still is today.”
The Beatles appeared live on “Sullivan” three more times–the following Sunday from Miami, a third consecutive show (February 23), and finally September 12, 1965. In all, the Fab Four performed 20 songs (15 different ones), from “All My Loving” and “I Saw Her Standing There” (twice each) to “I Want To Hold Your Hand” (three times), “Yesterday” and “Help!”
The Sunday night variety show, which ran from 1948 to 1971, was seen live in the Central and Eastern time zones but fortunately was taped for airing in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. Yet few tapes had been transferred to a contemporary format until Solt obtained the rights. Today he continues to transfer and remaster them. Solt’s other credits range from the 1979 TV special “Heroes Of Rock And Roll” and 1988 feature documentary “Imagine: John Lennon” to the 1991 Warner Brothers theatrical feature film “This is Elvis” to the 1995 TV documentary series “The History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll” and 2006 home video “Elvis: The Ed Sullivan Shows.”
“For so many people who experienced those first shows originally, including myself,” adds Solt, “we remember where we were. But we never saw them again. Now we can, and in context–the complete shows–with all the raw energy and excitement, the audience going crazy. There’s also a new generation, one that has bought the reissues, the Rock Band videogame, seen Paul McCartney play on the marquee of the Ed Sullivan Theater that’s the home of ‘The Late Show with David Letterman,’ heard the songs on ‘American Idol.’ They know the music so well even if they were born decades later. A word like ‘timeless’ gets overused but it definitely applies to The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Beatles.”
Ok Beatles fans! Here is your chance to score a free dvd of ‘The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Beatles’! Simply post your favorite Beatles song and why you love it in the comment section below and one lucky person will win! Contest ends September 27th. Good luck! (**Thank you for the entries. The winner has been chosen and notified.**)
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