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50 Years Ago Today: 63% Have Seen Beatles Debut on Ed Sullivan Show

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Greet the Beatles.

That’s what 73 million Americans did 50 years ago tonight – when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr made their U.S. TV debut on CBS’ Ed Sullivan Show in glorious black and white. Sixty-three percent (63%) of American Adults say they have seen that show, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just one-in-three (34%) have not. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Not surprisingly, 75% of those ages 40 to 64 and 81% of those 65 and older claim to have seen the show, compared to just 43% of those under 40.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of all Americans have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of the Beatles, including 36% with a Very Favorable one. Just 17% view the four lads from Liverpool somewhat or Very Unfavorably.

But only 22% of Americans were willing to rate the Beatles as the greatest rock band of all time in a September 2009 survey.

Still, 39% say they own at least one Beatles album.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on February 5-6, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

The Beatles are credited with revolutionizing popular music, and some of the most enduring artists of our time got their start in the 1960s during the British band’s heyday. Seventy-one percent (71%) of Americans have a favorable opinion of the popular music of the 1960s. Seventeen percent (17%) view the popular music of that decade unfavorably. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided.

Just 29%, however, say they rarely or never listen to the popular music of the 1960s. Thirty-five percent (35%) listen to music from that era occasionally. Nineteen percent (19%) listen to ‘60s music several times a month, and 15% say they listen to it several times a week.

Again, it’s a generational thing. Americans ages 40 to 64 have the highest opinion of the popular music of the 1960s, and 42% of adults in that age group play the music from that period at least several times a month.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of those under 40 say they rarely or never play the music of the 1960s, but 77% of these adults have a favorable opinion of the Beatles. Thirty-four percent (34%) of these younger Americans have at least one Beatles album.

Whites view the music of the 1960s more favorably than blacks and other minority Americans do.

Ninety-one percent (91%) of Americans who have a favorable impression of the music of the 1960s view the Beatles favorably, and 70% of these adults have seen the band’s debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. Among those who don’t like the music of that era, just 37% have a favorable opinion of the Beatles, but 50% have seen their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only. 

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