The most elaborate anniversary celebration will be The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles, a two-hour tribute that will air on CBS at 7 p.m. Sunday, 50 years to the hour after the Ed Sullivan appearance aired on that same network.
The lineup for the show includes a few legends (Stevie Wonder and a reunion of Eurythmics Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart) and several contemporary hit factories (Katy Perry and Brad Paisley).
But the capper will be a set of Beatles songs performed by a band reuniting Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, who also performed together at the recent Grammy Awards.
“At first when I was asked to do the show, I was wondering if it was the right thing to do. Was it seemly to tribute yourself?” McCartney told The Huffington Post after the taping of the special Jan. 27. “But I saw a couple of American guys who said to me, ‘You don’t understand the impact of that appearance on the show on America.’ I didn’t realize that.”
Also riding the coattails of the anniversary is The U.S. Albums, a new digital release of all the American versions of the Beatles LPs, which were originally released on the Capitol label.
Back then, the American releases before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had different track lists and different mixes from the British LPs. So some American fans have been a bit put off by the CD releases of the Beatles catalog because they mirror the British versions.
There is a “buyer beware” point to be made about this 13-disc box set. Most of the tracks use the mixes from the 2009 remasters, not the original mixes used on the American versions.
And on Tuesday, the Beatles’ first full concert on American soil will be re-created at the same venue — the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C. — with tribute band Beatlemania Now.
Tommy Roe was one of the warm-up acts at the American debut concert and will serve the same role at this show, which offers the same set list played 50 years ago.