the-beatles-50th-anniversary-ed-sullivan-paul-mccartney-ringo-star-cbs.JPGIt was 50 years ago today that a British rock band called The Beatles gave its first American TV performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

That introduction on Feb. 9, 1964 kicked off a worldwide phenomenon that has never really ended. Even after 50 years and the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison, The Beatles remain the biggest thing in rock and roll.

CBS is celebrating the anniversary with “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A Grammy Salute” on Sunday, Feb. 9 (8-10:30 p.m.). In anticipation of this, here are videos from the 1964 debut through to previews for the 50th anniversary special.

First up, here’s the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, talking to David Letterman about being back in the Ed Sullivan Theater.

Not familiar with what happened 50 years ago? The Beatles, while popular over in their native England, were a new phenomenon in North America in 1964. Still, they were obviously quite well known in the United States when they hit the “Ed Sullivan” stage Feb. 9, 1964.

For the TV audiences anyway, it all began with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

Over the next couple of years, The Beatles would return several times to “The Ed Sullivan Show.” McCartney talks about his final performance — a solo of “Yesterday” — in the upcoming special.

This is what he was talking about:

It’s not just interviews in the present-day salute, of course. McCartney and Starr will also perform some of their hits, including “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Hey Jude.”

Posted by:Laurel Brown