Friday Five: The Ed Sullivan Show

Ken Morton, Jr. | September 28th, 2012

On this date in 1901, a young boy was born in New York who would go on to change modern media as we know it. At the age of 47, Ed Sullivan would take the still-relatively-new media of television and start the variety show called simply, Toast of the Town. (It would eventually be renamed The Ed Sullivan Show.) It would run for 23 seasons, still ranking it as one of the longest running shows in television history.

The Beatles’ appearance on the show in 1964 is probably the most famous music appearance in American television history, and Elvis Presley’s performances are an integral part of rock and roll history. But in a time where television hadn’t overwhelmingly embraced country and western music, Sullivan was adamant on including this genre of music, and he brought on guests including Loretta Lynn, Roy Rogers, Floyd Cramer, Buck Owens, Minnie Pearl, Billy Joe Royal, Roy Clark, and more. Here are just a few of the roots/country performances pulled from this “really big shew.”

5. Johnny Cash – “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town”

This great black and white clip is from season 12 in 1959.

 

4. Johnny Horton – “Battle of New Orleans”

Just a few episodes after Cash’s visit, Johnny Horton played this legendary track.

 

3. Roy Orbison – “Oh, Pretty Woman”

Orbison played his most famous hit on Sullivan’s show in 1965.

 

2. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Fortunate Son”

Fast forward to 1969 where we have all original members of the band singing before they were “revisited.”

 

1. Chet Atkins – “Blue Angel”

Chet appeared on Sullivan’s show in 1970 as it was winding down after two decades on the air. Click here to see his performance.

  1. Barry Mazor
    September 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Not bad either : The Band: Up on Cripple Creek:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u3fp9dJDMU

  2. Arlene
    September 28, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I couldn’t find a clip on YouTube but I seem to remember Flatt and Scruggs appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show to perform “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” (a/k/a the theme for the Beverly Hillbillies– both Ed Sullivan and The Beverly Hillbillies were CBS shows….).

  3. Rick
    September 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Gosh, I have no memory of the show lasting that long! Once shows like “Glen Campbell’s Good Time Hour” and “The Johnny Cash Show”, and yes even “The Smothers Brothers” came on the air I guess I didn’t see a need to watch Ed’s show any further. Thanks for the clips though. Good stuff indeed.

  4. Paul W Dennis
    September 29, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I watched Ed Sullivan for about a decade before it went off the air – Sonny James made at least a dozen appearences on the show

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