Story By: G. H. HARDING
Alicia Keys

Stevie Wonder
50 YEAR AGO --- CBS’ much heralded Beatles anniversary show last night was a mixed bag on many levels. First: the music is timeless as ever. It sounded as fresh and as innovative as it did when it first came out. Watching the memories and reactions of everyone was pretty spectacular too: from fans in the original Ed Sullivan audience; to the production people involved in the show. One production person said that the screams were so deafening that night, that the plastic-type of headphones the crew wore that night, were immediately replaced the very next day that day to the much more rugged and secure ones used today. Even the original set designer described his design of of arrows pointing to the group’s performance on stage, which proved to be quite memorable indeed.

The Sullivan broadcast was seen by 74 million people, more than 60 percent of the American television audience. There might well be nostalgia for those days at CBS and the other networks, which in 1964 had only a handful of broadcast competitors rather than hundreds of cable channels and the infinitude of the Internet. The kind of unified television experience shared when The Beatles arrived only occurs now during championship games and awards shows — which are all, as the Ed Sullivan show was, live broadcasts.

The arrays of performers were an interesting combination as well: Stevie Wonder, Dave Grohl, Alicia Keys, Ed Sherin, Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons and a reunited Eurythmics. 

Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon and George Harrison’s widow, Olivia Harrison, and son, Dhani Harrison, were in the front row; Dhani Harrison helped perform his father’s song “Something” onstage, with Jeff Lynne, and proved to be an emotional highlight of the show.

Another Harrison-song scored in my book the highlight of the show: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with Lynne and Joe Walsh; looking as good as I’ve even seen him and playing and singing like a true star.

Alicia Keys and John Legend sang and played together on “Let It Be.” And, the reunited Eurythmics performed a somewhat lackluster “Fool On The Hill.” For their much-hyped reunion, their choice was a strange one, even as Dave Stewart even gave a brief hug to Annie Lennox at the end of the show. Most strange!

“Hey Bulldog,” which has become more and more of a fan and industry favorite of late, was faithfully reproduced with a powerful Dave Grohl on drums. Stranger still was the fact that while Harrison’s son performed, Lennon’s son, Sean, remained in the audience along with Yoko Ono; dancing on several songs like she was on another planet. Yes, they were acknowledged, but it would have been nice to have seen them onstage.

Also, when Anna Kendrick introduced Harrison’s “Here Comes The Sun,” she said Harrison and Eric Clapton (who would have been a nice addition) wrote it in Clapton’s garden at his home Huntwood Edge. Really? Try Hurtwood Edge. Shame on writers David Wild and Ken Erhlich … you guys should know better! Plus, producer George Martin would have been a nice addition too ... right? 

Also, David Letterman’s much-trumpeted interview with the two Beatles was a surprising passive affair too. Too softball if you ask me. It appeared as if even Letterman was too star-struck to do his usual splendid job. McCartney did reveal one interesting-tidbit in the interview: When they came up with the name Beatles; it was inspired by Buddy Holy's Crickets and had the word beat in it. This I had never heard and loved it!

NARAS’ Neil Portnow, who never met a camera he didn’t love, was wisely kept mute throughout a terrific idea if you ask me.

Ringo finally hit the stage performing with a terrific band (bassist Don Was and Toto’s Steve Lukather and Peter Frampton on guitars) with Carl Perkin's “Matchbox,” and, then settling in at the drums to play and sing the Shirelles’ “Boys” and finishing with a vibrant “Yellow Submarine.” 

Starr sounded better than I have ever heard him and whether it was a case of performing almost every year with his All-Starr band, or what, he sounded almost youthful. At 73, that was impressive.

Macca rasped and shouted through “Birthday” and savored the humor of “Get Back” while hitting its falsetto high notes with poise. He introduced “I Saw Her Standing There” as the first song he wrote with John Lennon — “It started a lot of stuff,” he said — and he whooped his way through it even more exultantly than he had in 1964.

French horns joined in on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which led, inevitably, to Starr’s reappearance, side by side with McCartney on bass, to sing “With a Little Help from My Friends,” jovially and wholeheartedly. Finally, with Starr back at the drums, McCartney moved to piano to lead the whole arena in “Hey Jude,” riding the na-na chorus with all of the performers joining it.

Fifty years after conquering the United States, McCartney and Starr, this was a great tribute. Macca even quipped that when the idea was first floated to him, he wondered if it was right to tribute yourself. It could have been so much better than it was, but hearing the music and seeing them again was tremendous.

RADIO GA GA --- Still not convinced that radio has been and always will be, one of the worst areas to be employed in? The trade sheet Inside Music Media released 4 points in Friday’s surprise and sudden Scott Shannon retirement from WPLJ. They are: 1: The dirty details of contract negotiations that went so wrong and led to Shannon’s “retirement.” 2: How Cumulus (WPLJ current owner) tried to whack his salary – take it or leave it. 3: Allegations that Shannon may have also been knifed in the back on the way out the door by someone close. 4: Which New York radio station that secretly made a run at Shannon. 

Scott Shannon not being on radio in New York City is a bad, bad, move. More on this, and, yes there’s a lot, lot more, very soon.

CLOSING NOTES – Drummer-extraordinaire Kenny Arnoff’s name wrongly spelled in the credits for The Beatles’ CBS show last night. Clearly, no quality control any more at CBS … 

Check out Micky Dolenz’s pr-man David Salidor’s interview via Monkees.net: http://www.monkees.net/micky-dolenz-pr-man-david-salidor-speaks/ … 

Saw Her over the weekend and loved it. Just stunningly spectacular. American Hustle and Blue Jasmine remain my Oscar favorites, but, Her is coming on strong …

According to a report in Variety, actor Shia LaBeouf wore a paper bag on his head to the premiere of Nymphomaniac at the Berlin Film Festival. He did also come in a tuxedo, so that’s something. Written on the paper bag: “I am not famous anymore.”

Look, he’s either having a nervous breakdown or pulling off a kind of James Franco-esque college thing because he’s reading a lot of material about modernism. After brawls in bars and feuding with Alec Baldwin; he could be right …

The Sting/Paul Simon toured kicked off this weekend in Houston. Can't wait for the reviews. I'm seeing them next month here in NYC. Could be the tour of the year ...

Which podcaster on the West Coast will be packing his bags this week? Actually, since his studio is in his basement, he'll only have to go upstairs.

Again, radio ... a dangerous game!