The Ed Sullivan Show was instrumental in helping further the careers of musicians from the late 1940's to its final show on June 6, 1971. Many big names returned to appear more than once on the program, and such performances are nothing short of historic today. On the anniversary of the final Ed Sullivan Show, we take a look back at five of its most memorable performances.
1. Elvis Presley
Elvis visited the Ed Sullivan Show a number of times throughout his career, and each appearance is definitely worth watching if you have the time. It’s not only a great way to watch his performance skills progress, but also doubles as a music history lesson: Elvis’ 1957 appearance on the show was filmed from the waist up following moral outrage in response to his gyrating dancing in 1956.
2. The Beatles
By 1964, The Beatles were well on their way to conquering the world – but first, they had to win over America. Their visit to the US is an especially historic moment, as is their television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
3. James Brown
There are some performances you watch not for their significance, but purely because they're simply great entertainment. James Brown's appearances on this program are testament to that, where viewers are gifted with a selection of hits and a showcase of incomparable talent.
4. The Doors
While The Ed Sullivan Show is undoubtedly one of the most important contributors to music history, it wasn’t without its fair share of controversy. One moment in particular arrived when The Doors stopped by to play ‘Light My Fire’ – and were asked not to sing the word “higher”. Naturally, Jim Morrison sang it anyway.
5. Stevie Wonder
Performing on television in front of thousands of viewers is intimidating at any age, let alone at 13 years old. Stevie Wonder, however, did so for his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show to showcase his number one single, ‘Fingertips Pt. 2’.