Dateline NYC (1964) – Britain invades U.S.


When I think of British television, I immediately think of classic comedy, drama, mystery and nature programming. But, you have to think of music also. Without question, the Brits have also had a history of creating some of the most influential music television for over 40 years with series like The Old Grey Whistle Test , Top of the Pops , BBC Sessions and Later with Juls Holland .

A circus atmosphere

Some 41 years ago (December 1968, to be exact) in one of the smaller BBC studios, a group of musicians spent 18 straight hours taping The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus. The program, although taped in 1968, went unseen for almost 30 years. Besides The Stones, the brightly-colored pancho wearing studio audience were treated performances from Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithful, The Who and a newly formed supergroup, Dirty Mac, comprised of John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell and Keith Richards. Spoiler alert – the hooded figure down front dancing during the song is actually Yoko Ono. The Mick/John interview set-up is worth the price of admission alone.

The performance of The Who is nothing short of incredible. Mix in a very young Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull, an unbelievably tight set from Taj Mahal, a very short set from Marianne Faithful, classic early Stones, all strangely set in a circus atmosphere with Mick Jagger as the Ringmaster and you have one of the greatest time capsules of British music that exists today.

PBS stations pay tribute with ‘rock & roll classics’ from The Ed Sullivan Show

In the U.S., The Ed Sullivan Show, as early as 1964, regularly featured many British acts such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals and Herman’s Hermits. KERA and PBS stations nationwide pay tribute to America’s forerunner in the music television arena with vintage music performances from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Mamas & The Papas, The Byrds, The Beach Boys and more beginning November 28 through December with Ed Sullivan’s Rock and Roll Classics – The 60’s. If you missed it the first time around (in the 60’s) don’t miss it this time.

Anyone see the Ed Sullivan performances as they aired live on TV? If so, any remembrances? I do remember seeing the Beatles, watching the Stones and seeing Jagger roll his eyes at the point they had to change their lyrics and then hearing about how The Doors were supposed to, but didn’t, causing Jim Morrison to be banned from the show.