We missed Fred Kaps and the Beatles on TV in Cuba

Much has changed in 57 years.  Perhaps the biggest change is that we had one TV in the living room back then.  This is probably why the Sullivan show was so popular — because it had something for everybody.

On this day in 1964, an estimated 73 million Americans saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.  It all started at 8:19 P.M., when Paul sang, "Close your eyes and I'll kiss you" — the famous first line from "All My Loving."

Down in Cuba, our family waited for "el telegrama," or the official notice to leave the country.  It was a long ordeal of paperwork and bureaucratic steps intended to hurt people, like our family, for disagreeing with the regime.  We missed the whole Beatles show and did not even hear about it until we arrived in the U.S. eight months later.  I remember listening to my first Beatles song in Jamaica, where our family was waiting to get our permission to travel to the U.S.  It did nothing for us because we were so focused on getting to the U.S. that a song by a British group went in one ear and out the other.  Besides that, all I remember was something about holding a girl's hand.

Years later, I read about Fred Kaps.  Who was Fred Kaps?  He was a popular magician and the man who followed the Beatles on their first appearance on U.S. TV.  The poor man had to deal with hundreds of girls in the audience who could not get enough of the Beatles.  As we understand, he did it well and entertained many with his magic act.  Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

It was a great night, but we missed it in Cuba.  In other words, we had no idea that a bunch of Cuban girls were screaming at the TV in Miami.  We went to bed and woke up the next morning and heard nothing about it.

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).

Image: Nationaal Archief Jac. de Nijs / Anefo.

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