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It's been 60 years since The Beatles first set foot in the U.S.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Sixty years ago, the Beatles kicked off the British Invasion with a historic show in Washington, D.C.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

More than 70 million people watched the Beatles' first live American television appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," and two days later they played a sold-out concert at the Washington Coliseum.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THE BEATLES: (Singing) Oh, yeah, I'll tell you something I think you'll understand. And I...

KENNY VANCE: It was thrilling that I got an opportunity to be there.

FADEL: Kenny Vance is a rock historian. His band was one of the opening acts that night.

VANCE: They were surrounded by an army of police. And they brought them down to the stage. There was a roar that went up that - I had never heard anything like it.

INSKEEP: And while the audience was ready, the venue was not. The event was full of technical difficulties. The PA system had been used for boxing matches and could not really compete with 8,000 screaming fans.

VANCE: You really couldn't hear them too well. It's like when George Harrison started to sing, the mic wasn't even on.

FADEL: The Fab Four were undeterred and played for more than 30 minutes wearing their signature dark suits and pointy high-heeled leather boots.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THE BEATLES: (Singing) Well, shake it up, baby, now. Twist and shout. Come on, come on, come on, baby, now. Come on and work it on out.

FADEL: And though the fans seated in the back row probably couldn't hear much of what the Beatles were singing, Vance says that night was more about the energy in the room.

VANCE: It really wasn't a musical memory as much as it was an event.

INSKEEP: An event that signaled a shift in American popular music in the 1960s.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THE BEATLES: (Singing) Well, we're going to have some fun tonight, have some fun tonight... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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