On August 16, The Ed Sullivan Show’s official YouTube channel begins a tribute to Elvis Presley, one of rock ‘n’ roll music’s most iconic talents with a special rollout of performances that spanned three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
That Elvis Presley became the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll is pop culture legend, and, at the dawn of the modern television boom, America’s most popular variety program catapulted him to the throne when 60 million viewers – more than two-thirds of all TV viewers at the time – tuned in to watch his debut on the program.
“Appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show meant everything to Elvis,” said his lifelong friend, associate, and colleague Jerry Schilling during an exclusive interview recently with Andrew Solt on August 6, 2020. “At the end of his third appearance when Ed Sullivan goes over to Elvis and says, ‘I wanted to say to Elvis Presley and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy. We have never had a pleasanter experience on our show with a big name than we had with you; you’re thoroughly alright. Let’s have a tremendous hand for a very nice person.’ When you look into Elvis’s eyes at that moment, you knew he felt accepted and sincerely proud. Ed had given him that endorsement.”
Nearly 50 years after The Ed Sullivan Show wrapped its final episode and charmed TV viewers for the final time on Sunday night June 6, 1971, it officially joined the streaming universe to live on forever on June 12 thanks to the deal between UMe and SOFA Entertainment Inc. to globally curate The Ed Sullivan Show, encompassing the influential television program’s historic 23-year primetime run on CBS and marking the first time performances and guest segments from the program are officially available in their entirety across streaming services worldwide. Elvis Presley is among the thousands of clips that are regularly being made available to fans.
“Elvis’s multi-dimensional performances continue to impact and resonate with audiences everywhere,” said Marc Rosen, EVP of Entertainment at Authentic Brands Group, owner of Elvis Presley Enterprises, LLC. “It’s incredible that more than six decades after his musical debut, we continue to uncover hidden gems from Elvis’s most memorable appearances like these on The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Bruce Resnikoff, UMe President & CEO, said, “The Ed Sullivan Show brought a phenomenal talent into millions of living rooms and helped catapult Elvis Presley into the hearts and minds of music fans all around the world. We are proud to make these amazing performances officially available on streaming services.”
“Elvis on Ed Sullivan was the original Big Bang of rock ‘n roll,” said Andrew Solt, CEO of SOFA Entertainment. “The first night 60 million tuned in to witness the young man from Memphis sing his heart out. Overnight popular culture was upended. Elvis was James Dean and Marlon Brando multiplied. His boundless talent and charisma captivated America. In a few short years, Elvis and rock ‘n roll had conquered the planet.”
Josh Solt, President of SOFA Entertainment, said, “It is truly exciting to work with UMe to make these Elvis Presley clips available to existing fans and future generations.”
While the August 16 kick-off pays tribute to the anniversary of Presley’s passing in 1977 with clips from throughout his three appearances, September celebrates his first-ever performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, which took place on September 9, 1956. Additional clips will roll-out in October, which was a special month in the life of Elvis Presley. His first public performance – at the age of 10 in 1945 – was in October; he arrived in Germany in October 1958 to begin his Army deployment. And, of course, his second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was October 28, 1956, when audiences swooned as he sang the heartfelt “Love Me Tender.”
Throughout its Sunday evening run, The Ed Sullivan Show brought the hottest performances from around the world and introduced emerging talent to America’s living room every Sunday night. In addition to Elvis Presley, the show featured some of the earliest or first televised performances of music superstars including Stevie Wonder, The Band, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Jackson 5, The Mamas and the Papas, The Supremes, and The Rolling Stones.