A Jolt of New Blood

Lynette Dufton
2 min readFeb 5, 2024

America first saw the Beatles sixty years ago this week when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. February, 1964 was a very different time for pop music fans who wondered what their favorite artists actually looked like. Other than an often ridiculously-posed album cover photo or a lip-synched performance on American Bandstand, we had no idea which Beach Boy played the drums. We really had no idea what the Beatles looked like since neither they nor their albums made it to America yet. It was a really big deal for them to perform live on the top-rated TV variety show of the time.

It was also a sound engineer’s nightmare. The audience was dominated by screaming teen girls. The Dufton family’s TV antenna (no cable in those days) gave a crappy signal to our trusty 18 inch black-and-white Sylvania’s miniature speakers on the best of days. This was not the best of days. The sound came in alternating waves. “I want to hold your…PAUL!!! EEEK!!”.

The Beatles’ five minutes of air time on prime time TV sixty years ago was the spark that ignited Beatlemania and changed pop music. The Beatles held down #1 and #7 with “Hand” and “She Loves You” that week. I fondly remember two other Top 20 hits. The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” and the Kingsmen’s “Louie, Louie” were less than intellectually stimulating but you could dance to them even if you were a terrible dancer like me. Also in the Top 20 were dregs like Bobby Vinton’s “There I Said It Again”, Andy Williams’ “A Fool Never Learns” and the immortal Nino Tempo & April Stevens’ “Whispering”. Then there were a few Top 20 “hits” that I don’t even remember — #3 “Out of Limits” by the Marketts, #15 “Daisy Petal Pickin’” by Jimmy Gilmer &The Fireballs, and #17 “Hooky Tooky” by Chubby Checker.

American pop music desperately needed a jolt of new blood from the UK. How much “Hooky Tooky” could we handle?

Male fashion choices at Scranton Central HS also got a jolt of new blood thanks to the Beatles. Boys had to arrive at school in collared shirts (never tee shirts) and long pants (never jeans, never shorts). Girls were required to wear skirts or dresses (never pants or shorts) extending to the middle of their knee. How then could students express their individuality?

Richie Collosimo was always a fashion leader at CHS. The day after the Beatles appeared on TV, Richie sported a “Beatles Sport Coat” and “Beatles boots” to school. The sport coat had a velvet strip in place of a collar just like the Fab Four wore. The boots were pointy-toed and ankle-high, again just like the UK “Mods” sported. The “cool kids” soon followed Richie’s lead.

Female fashion choices at Central High were also affected by the British Invasion. Miniskirts would get you sent home to change, but brightly-patterned Carnaby Street dresses appeared.

American culture really changed thanks to the Beatles first TV appearance.

By Ed Dufton

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Lynette Dufton

These posts are written by my father, Ed Dufton, who has an incredible knack of condensing the day’s news into a witty and insightful commentary on society.