By Jim Johnson

It was 50 years ago Saturday night (October 25th, 1964) that the Rolling Stones made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Stones’ debut was nothing like the Beatles‘ celebrated first appearance the previous February, when they performed five songs. The Stones, who were already on their second U.S. tour of the year, performed two songs in less than seven minutes — their latest hit “Time Is On My Side,” and a cover of Chuck Berry‘s “Around And Around.”

The Ed Sullivan Show wasn’t the Stones’ first U.S. TV performance. They had performed on Dean Martin’s Hollywood Palace and The Mike Douglas Show during their first swing through the States the previous June. But it was during the Stones’ 1964 Ed Sullivan Show performance that the majority of America got their first glimpse of the unruly Stones — withMick Jagger dressing down in a ragged sweatshirt and unwashed hair, and guitarist Brian Jones glaring menacingly toward the cameras.

  • 50 years into the band’s career, Mick Jagger recalled how shocked the entertainment world was in the early-’60s as the Stones redefined the rules of the game: “The way that show-business was in those days was very narrow, and you were supposed to behave in a certain way, pretty much goody-two-shoes. So, if you didn’t behave like that completely, you were, y’know, on the edge of it. So, it was another time. Y’know, the early, early days.”
  • Keith Richards was an immediate fan and friend of The Beatles. He admits that following manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s brief that the Stones become the opposite of the lovable “Mop Tops” was ingenious and important in separating the Stones from all the other British beat groups that followed in the Beatles wake: “There was no competition between the bands, per se, y’know — but in the greater world, the Beatles were the “Fab Four,” y’know? As I say, that’s wearing the ‘white hat.’ So the only other (laughs) place to go is to wear the ‘black hat’ (laughs), y’know? And at the same time, we were pretty natural, and I think all we really did was, we didn’t ‘showbiz’ ourselves up.”
  • Martin Scorsese directed the Stones’ 2008 concert film Shine A Light and has included numerous Stones songs in his movies, including Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Casino, and The Departed. We asked him if he places the Stones’ music in his films because it represents the violence he witnessed on the New York City streets as a youth: “I don’t know if I can make any direct associations to it. At times their music, it dealt with aspects of the life around me that I was associated with or saw, or was experiencing, and trying to make sense of. And so it was tougher, it had an edge, beautiful and honest — and brutal at times (laughs), and powerful.”
  • The Rolling Stones kick off their nine-date tour of Down Under on Saturday (October 25th) in Adelaide.

SIDE NOTES

  • Recently released is the DVD set, All 6 Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones. The set includes all the Rolling Stones‘ appearances; marking the first time the band’s 1969 guest spot has appeared on DVD.
  • The Stones played live on the Sullivan Show between 1964 and 1969 — with the band’s 1966, 1967, and 1969’s performances featuring live vocals over pre-recorded backing tracks.
  • The Rolling Stones’ Ed Sullivan Show performances are:
    • October 25th, 1964: “Time Is On My Side” and “Around And Around.”
    • May 2nd, 1965: “The Last Time,” “Little Red Rooster,” “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.”
    • February 13th, 1966: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “As Tears Go By,” and “19th Nervous Breakdown.”
    • September 11th, 1966: “Paint It, Black,” “Lady Jane,” and “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows?”
    • January 15th, 1967: “Ruby Tuesday” and “Let’s Spend The Night Together” — infamously sung as “Let’s Spend Some Time Together” at the insistence of network standards and practices.
    • November 23rd, 1969: “Gimme Shelter,” “Love In Vain,” and “Honky Tonk Woman.”

Watch some of the Stone’s performances on the Ed Sullivan Show:

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