CBS New – A star-studded roster of musical talent paid tribute to the Beatles in a performance-heavy special that aired Sunday night, marking the 50th anniversary of the group’s first U.S. television performance on CBS’ “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
“The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles” featured performances of the Fab Four’s hits by Maroon 5, John Legend and Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, John Mayer and Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Pharrell Williams and others as Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr looked on — before taking the stage themselves to close out the night.
Maroon 5 opened the show with “All My Loving” and “Ticket to Ride,” while Legend and Keys sat at a pair of pianos for “Let It Be.” Perry performed “Yesterday,” Mayer teamed with Urban on “Don’t Let Me Down,” and Paisley and Williams put their spin on “Here Comes the Sun.”
Imagine Dragons was also on the performers’ list, with a rendition of “Revolution.” Dave Grohl and Jeff Lynne took to the stage for “Hey Bulldog,” Ed Sheeran performed “In My Life,” Stevie Wonder sang “We Can Work It Out” and Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics reunited to play “The Fool on the Hill.” Grohl returned to the stage again later in the show to take on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with Gary Clark Jr. and Joe Walsh.
McCartney and Starr were in the front row for all of it, sitting with wives Nancy Shevell and Barbara Bach. Yoko Ono and son Sean Lennon were also there, along with George Harrison’s widow, Olivia Harrison, and son Dhani Harrison, who helped perform his father’s song “Something” with Lynne and Walsh. The cameras cut to them often, catching the group clapping and singing along.
The special, taped last month in Los Angeles, also featured short biographies on each of the Fab Four, footage of their original “Ed Sullivan” performance and interviews McCartney and Starr did with David Letterman talking about that historic night and the group’s legacy.
All the cover songs and tributes built up to the finale everyone was waiting for — performances from the Beatles themselves. Starr went first, starting off with “Matchbox” before sitting down at the drums for “Boys” and finishing off with “Yellow Submarine.” McCartney then took the stage for a rousing version “Birthday,” followed by “Get Back” and “I Saw Her Standing There.”
The finale kicked off with McCartney rocking through “St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” before Starr returned to the stage to join him for “With a Little Help From My Friends.” It finished with the duo paying tribute to the late John Lennon and Harrison with “Hey Jude,” the crowd all too happy to join in on the “na-na-na-na” part of the singalong.