On February 4, 2010, a confluence of multiple anniversaries led to The Beatles’ music truly traveling ‘Across the Universe’. To mark the 50th Anniversary of NASA’s founding, the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of The Beatles, the 50th Anniversary of the launching of the first U.S. satellite Explorer 1, and the 45th Anniversary of the founding of the Deep Space Network of international transmission antennas, NASA beamed The Beatles’ tune ‘Across the Universe’ directly into deep space. (Anyone residing on or near the North Star, Polaris, can expect to hear the tune in about 430 years.) Nearly five years earlier, Paul McCartney had awakened International Space Station crew members with a live performance of ‘Good Day Sunshine’.
Though George Harrison’s good friend Eric Clapton contributed to a number of Beatles and solo-Beatles tunes — most notably in providing the guitar-work on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ — pianist Billy Preston is the only non-Beatle to ever obtain label credit for performing with John, Paul, George and Ringo. He participated during the Let it Be album sessions, and his keyboard work is perhaps best showcased on ‘Get Back’.
On February 9, 1964, the appearance of The Beatles on CBS’ The Ed Sullivan Showdrew a then-record U.S. television audience of 73.2 million viewers. It took almost another two decades for that viewership to be exceeded (by the final M*A*S*Hseries episode).
There is but one work of visual art on which all four Beatles collaborated. A large collage watercolor with quarters completed by each of the Liverpudlians, it was painted as they wiled away time in their hotel room between shows at Japan’s Budokan in July of 1966, and was later auctioned.
After the release of ‘Revolution’ as a double A-side along with ‘Hey Jude’ in August 1968, many customers returned to their record stores, concerned that the purposeful fuzztone distortion of John’s and George’s guitar parts was instead due to some sort of flaw in the vinyl-pressing process. Four years earlier, The Beatles had been the first group to ever record amplifier feedback onto vinyl, in the opening tone of Lennon’s ‘I Feel Fine’.
The Beatles were the first pop group to be broadcast simultaneously worldwide via satellite, as they mimed a performance of ‘All You Need is Love’ for the program Our Worldin 1968.
In late 1965, more than 15 years before the cable channel MTV premiered, The Beatles had produced the first-ever music videos — or ‘promotional films”, as they were called then — of five of their current hit songs.