Two years ago marked the 20th year I’d worked at CBS News and at the ceremony commemorating those with longevity on the job, CBS boss Leslie Moonves introduced “the woman who put the makeup on The Beatles at the Ed Sullivan show.” What? I tried doing the math but it seemed almost impossible. It’s not. Riccie Johnson, the woman who put the makeup on The Beatles that fateful night, has worked at CBS more than 61 years now and counting. And she’s still here!
Recently, I needed some makeup for a TV appearance I was making and there was Riccie on duty and ready to work on me. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking — I needed a bit more work than Paul McCartney) She was happy to have her photo taken and repeat the story she’s told many times before. She was working that night 50 years ago today and asked her boss who was applying the makeup to “those English guys.”
“Ah,” he said with a wave of his hand, “You can have them.”
And so she did, putting pancake makeup and eyeliner on “the boys” who were curious about the eye makeup. Riccie found them charming and friendly and called her husband who was at home with her kids. Maybe he’d like to bring them by? This band was supposed to be big? Nah, he said, they’re fine, playing away. Her daughters still complain that she didn’t insist.
I’m one of those people who think The Beatles were magic. They’ll never be another band like them again. They had something that goes beyond music and I think part of their mystique is that they were together for a ten-year period (give or take) and then never again. They broke up before they were 30 years old and, in their time together, they wrote songs that broke the mold.
Yes, it was a miracle that John and Paul met as teenagers and became mates. And they never settled. They strove to break the mold with each song. They didn’t want to sound the same and they didn’t always succeed but they succeeded way more than any other group ever. The Stones are talented no doubt but The Beatles were magic. Listen to the difference between “She Loves You” and “A Day in The Life” my favorite Beatle song. These guys grew as artists and deserve all the accolades they get.
They affected a generation and certainly affected me so much so that I just had my old guitar — bought in the ’60s — refurbished so I can hopefully play again.