This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first trip to the United States, a historical touchstone that would influence American music and culture in a number of ways. The impact of the band is well documented, but Michael Conner, Course Director for History of Popular Music, is hoping to give students a reminder of their significance with two campus events honoring the Fab Four’s visit.
“I feel a sense of obligation to recognize it,” Conner says. “They created the modern music industry, merchandising, fashion, and they moved the culture. You can look to Elvis and Sinatra for a similar impact, but that was a smaller segment of the population. The Beatles changed everything and set up the next couple of generations of artists.”
Wednesday, February 5 will feature a trivia night in the Full Sail Library, covering the band’s entire career. It will consist of three rounds – ten questions per round – broken up into their early touring days, psychedelic period, then final years as a unit.
Then on Monday, February 10 there will be a celebration of the Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This will include a live performance of songs from the period by a band made up of faculty members. This includes Jonathan Leamy, lab instructor for Music Theory and Music Producing and Arrangement (drums), Rick Navarro, course director for Music Producing and Arrangement (bass), Charley Webb, course director for Mastering (guitar), and Keith Wilkinson, Lab instructor for Principles of Electronics (lead guitar).
Afterwards there will be three speakers from our staff, Matt Gorney (course director for Music History I), Tim Gregory (Director of Academic Advising), and Keith Lay (course director for Music Production Final Project), followed by a screening of the complete episode of The Ed Sullivan Show.
Both evenings are open to all students, staff, and faculty, and Conner is hoping that a good turnout may inspire future events honoring other seminal artists. As an educator and a massive Beatles fan, he continues to emphasize the importance of younger music lovers to look back on the evolution of the industry as well as popular culture as a whole.
“To see the Sullivan show in its original broadcast form in the context of the other artists that were on the show with them gives you a little insight into what America was like when they hit,” he says. “It’s interesting to see the contrast between the style of entertainment and what they brought to the table, and how exciting the response from the audience was. This period of the Beatles wasn’t so much about the musical sophistication, but the cultural impact when they landed here.”