This is part of a series of essays to mark the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first American television appearance on CBS's "The Ed Sullivan Show." It culminates with CBS News, 50 Years Later...The Beatles at The Ed Sullivan Theater: Presented by Motown The Musical, a live, interactive multimedia event at The Ed Sullivan Theater on Feb. 9.
On both sides of the Atlantic, many members of the press resented being assigned to the Beatles beat. After all, attempting intellectual discourse with baby-faced “musicians” over screaming teenagers at airports, train stations and concert halls is hardly journalism.To distance themselves from their subject matter -- and to underscore the contrast between their own considerable wit and that of their four mop-topped subjects -- men and women (well, mostly men, actually) with microphones and notepads tossed repeated curveballs at the Beatles … and John, Paul, George and Ringo had no problem swatting them back.Complete coverage of The Beatles: 50 Years Later
Here are 10 of the Beatles’ best early-interview comebacks:
The French have not made up their minds about the Beatles. What do you think of them?
JOHN: Oh, we like the Beatles.
Aren't you afraid of what the American Barbers Association is going to think of you?
RINGO: Well, we run quicker than the English ones.
How do you feel about teenagers imitating you with Beatle wigs?
JOHN: They are not imitating us, because we don't wear Beatle wigs.
Are you going to get a haircut at all while you're here?
GEORGE: I had one yesterday.
[Members of the American press] think your haircuts are un-American.
JOHN: Well, it was very observant of them, because we aren’t American actually.
What do you think of Beethoven?
RINGO: Great. Especially his poems.
This phenomenal popularity you have achieved, do you feel you owe it all to press agents?
JOHN: We didn't get the press agents until we made it. We couldn't afford 'em before that.
Did you have a chance to get away from anybody at any time on the trip?
RINGO: He got away from me -- twice!
Do you date much?
RINGO: What are you doing tonight?
What kind of girl do you like, Paul?
PAUL: John's wife.
You're not married.
GEORGE: No, I'm George.
Your program was reviewed by a music critic and … he said that you had “unresolved leading tones, a false modal frame ending up as a plain diatonic.” What would you say to that?
JOHN: He ought to see a doctor about that.