What you didn't see in CBS' Beatles salute
By Randy Lewis
THE L.A. TIMES MUSIC BLOG
February 10, 2014
Viewers who tuned in Sunday night to “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles” on the 50th anniversary of the band's debut appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" got to see most of what transpired two weeks earlier when the show was filmed at the Los Angeles Convention Center. But a couple of noteworthy bits wound up on the editing room floor.
Musically, the biggest surprises were the elimination of Paul McCartney and his band's set-opening performance of "Magical Mystery Tour," and the editing of his and Ringo Starr’s reunion performance of “Hey Jude,” their first time playing the song together since 1968.
At the Convention Center, the extended vamp of the song’s signature “Na-na-na na-na-na-nahhhh” singalong was considerably longer than what ended up in the 2 ½-hour telecast. The show’s producers edited over the section in which McCartney first asked for only the men in the audience to sing the riff, then the women, and finally everyone in the house to join.
Two other lost bits — perhaps they’ll be included as bonus material on a DVD/Blu-ray release of the show — belonged to Jeff Bridges and Eric Idle.
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr perform for "The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles." The television special was recorded on Jan. 27 and aired on CBS on Sunday. (Zach Cordner / Invision/AP / January 27, 2014)
One of several celebrities tapped to introduce various performances, Bridges told of his reaction to seeing the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” 50 years earlier, when he was 14. But his full story of subsequently meeting the Fab Four didn’t make the cut, a shame since he was the only participant in the show with a story of a personal encounter with the group in the early stages of Beatlemania.
Bridges noted that his father, actor Lloyd Bridges, bought tickets — for $25 apiece — to a fundraiser hosted by one of their Hollywood neighbors that the Beatles attended.
When the Bridges family arrived, the Liverpool lads were thrilled to meet Lloyd Bridges, star of “Sea Hunt,” the syndicated TV underwater adventure series that ran from 1958-61. Bridges recalled one of the Beatles imitating sounds of blowing bubbles and making swimming gestures, a degree of awareness of their father that made a big impression on Bridges and his older brother, Beau.
A chunk of Eric Idle’s comedic spot in the show also was trimmed. The founding member of Monty Python and co-creator of the Rutles parody of the Beatles and Beatlemania reprised the latter role for a humorously convoluted salute to the historic nature of the show.
Jeff Bridges introduces Ringo Starr at The Night that Changed America: a Grammy Salute to the Beatles, on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Los Angeles.(Zach Cordner / Invision/AP / January 27, 2014)
“Fifty years ago on this very stage,” he began, “well, not on this very stage…” in a bit that cleverly wound its way through the artificiality of explaining a moment in history that took place Feb. 9, 1964, in New York to a live audience in Los Angeles looking on two weeks before the show would air.
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 27: Actor-comedian Eric Idle speaks onstage during “The Night That Changed America: A GRAMMY Salute To The Beatles” at the Los Angeles Convention Center on January 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)
Otherwise, the special was a faithful presentation of the live performances delivered the night after the Grammy Awards ceremony and featuring many of the same performers from the Grammy telecast serving up Beatles songs.
In addition to McCartney and Starr, the Beatles’ legacy was saluted by Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and John Legend, the reunited Eurythmics, Katy Perry, John Mayer and Keith Urban, Joe Walsh, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison’s son Dhani Harrison, Dave Grohl, Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5, Gary Clark Jr., Pharrell Williams and Brad Paisley and Ed Sheeran as well as troupe members from Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas Beatles show “Love.”
PHOTO BY KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES