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WiseGuy: The Author's Blog

1964: The Youth Revolution Begins

60 years ago today, The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show

60 years ago today, The Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on American TV. I did not see that performance. I was an 18-year-old Coast Guardsman stationed on Marcus Island Loran Station (Minami Tori Shima), a half-mile-wide desert island in the Central Pacific. We had no TV and no radio other than shortwave, which we accessed via Armed Forces Radio out of Tokyo, Japan. Still,  on that remote outpost 700 miles from the nearest civilization, we had heard about The Beatles.

Some months later, I remember sitting with several shipmates, clustered around the shortwave, listening to my first Beatles song: I Wanna Hold Your Hand. I wasn't particularly impressed. A few years later, as a college freshman, Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band did impress me.

The Beatles were the impetus for astonishing social change. Arguably, this was the date of the birth of the Youth Culture. The idea that there was them and then there was us. Growing up in the 50s, the goal was to grow up, to become an adult. Young people had no real sense of identity or what you might call a separate culture.


My generation stood at a major tipping point. An avalanche followed that changed everything, including Civil Rights, Vietnam, and Woman's Lib and, of course, drugs. I entered college in the mid-sixties and I was around for all of that. I still am!

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