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Toast of the Town: The Rolling Stones Visit Ed Sullivan with Petula, Dusty, Ella, Tom, Louis and More

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Long before David Letterman called the former Hammerstein’s Theatre on 50th Street and Broadway in New York City home, the theatre was the showplace of the world, thanks to one Mr. Ed Sullivan.  The former gossip columnist on the Broadway beat might have been an unlikely visitor to American homes each Sunday night between 1949 and 1971, but it was thanks to Sullivan that viewers got their first or most significant taste of such performers across the entire spectrum of entertainment.  On the musical side, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Supremes and The Rolling Stones were all beneficiaries of Sullivan’s exposure, but so were comedians like Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller, Broadway musicals like Camelot, and even a little mouse named Topo Gigio.  Though Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Brian Jones are ostensibly the main attraction of the new 2-DVD set, All 6 Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones, these DVDs offer plenty even for those who don’t feel like being Stoned.  An abridged version of this set is also available, containing just four of the six programs.  It’s titled, appropriately, 4 Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones, and drops the Stones’ first and last appearances from its line-up.

Both DVD sets feature full episodes of The Ed Sullivan Show, including original commercials.  Fans of television variety shows on DVD know that this often isn’t the case, with classics like The Dean Martin Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour being forced to release highlights-only as a result of prohibitive licensing costs, usually involving musical performances.  Only the 6-show set includes the Rolling Stones’ first appearance on October 25, 1964, in which the band performed the little-known “Around and Around” as well as their hit cover of the Jerry Ragovoy-penned “Time Is On My Side.”  But viewers will also find a program that defines variety: comedians London Lee, Phyllis Diller and Stiller and Meara, plus the tap-dancing Peg Leg Bates (!), actor Laurence Harvey reciting “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” classical violinist Itzhak Perlman and even the acrobatic Berosinis!

The May 2, 1965 episode is included on both releases.  Four Stones songs are performed (including “The Last Time”) but the same show also presented Dusty Springfield and the smash hit “I Only Want to Be with You” plus Tom Jones with “Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You,” Leslie Uggams with “Melancholy Baby” and of course, Senor Wences and Topo Gigio!  The Stones next appeared with Ed on February 13, 1966, and that program, too, appears on both versions.  The Stones kick off this episode with their titanic “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and return for both “19th Nervous Breakdown” and the ballad “As Tears Go By.”  The Rolling Stones are the sole musical act for this bill, which also includes the still-active Hal Holbrook, applying his distinct tones to Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural speech!

The Rolling Stones were back on September 13, 1966, opening the show with “Paint It Black” and later playing “Lady Jane” and “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?”  Red Skelton and Joan Rivers were the comedians du jour, while Robert Goulet musically contributed with “Once I Had a Heart” and Louis Armstrong brought along his famous trumpet for “Cabaret” from John Kander and Fred Ebb’s new Broadway musical of the same name!  Jim Henson’s Muppets are on hand for an early appearance with a rock-and-roll themed sketch.  Appropriate, no?

Next up was the band’s most controversial television appearance, ever.  Hit the jump for the full story, plus the track listing for all six episodes!

The January 15, 1967 show was the most controversial of the Rolling Stones’ appearances on Ed Sullivan, thanks to their song “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” closing the episode.  Sullivan’s team demanded the band change the title to the less explicit “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.”  The story has it that Mick Jagger obliged, changing the song’s lyrics as per Sullivan’s request but rolling his eyes with each utterance of the title phrase.  According to Dick Clark’s 25 Years of Rock and Roll, the band members then went backstage, and returned to confront their host in Nazi uniforms with swastikas!  (Why would The Rolling Stones have carried Nazi uniforms with them?  Minor details…) An angry Ed Sullivan banned the group from appearing on his show ever again.  But in show business, “forever” doesn’t carry the same meaning!  (Also on this episode: British songbird Petula Clark with “Colour My World” and “Elusive Butterfly,” a routine by Flip Wilson, another visit from The Muppets, and the ensemble of the musical A Joyful Noise.  Michael Bennett’s choreography for the unsuccessful show put him on the map, snagging him a Tony nomination, and paving the way for triumphs like Promises, Promises, Company, Follies, A Chorus Line and Dreamgirls.)

The Rolling Stones made their final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in the waning days of the 1960s, more than two years after the “Let’s Spend the Night Together” contretemps.  The setlist was even rougher this go-round, but the times had a-changed.  The Rolling Stones tore through “Honky Tonk Women,” “Gimme Shelter” and “Love in Vain.”  For Sullivan’s more conservative audiences, Ella Fitzgerald was on hand for “Open Your Window” and a song from Broadway’s High Spirits, “You’d Better Love Me.”  Rodney Dangerfield and Robert Klein were the esteemed comedians on hand, and Topo Gigio was back, too.  (Like the band’s first appearance, this episode isn’t found on the 4-episode set.)

If you’re interested in this true panoply of performing talent, The Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones is available in 6-episode and 4-episode versions.  Both are in stores now!  For more Sunday night variety, check out the recent Motown-themed DVDs drawn from the Ed Sullivan library!

The Rolling Stones, All 6 Ed Sullivan Shows (SOFA/Universal, 2011) (4-episode edition also available)


The Ed Sullivan Show – October 25, 1964

  1. Opening
  2. London Lee – Comedian
  3. Itzhak Perlman – Wieniawski’s “Concerto #2 in D Minor”
  4. Stiller and Meara – Comedy Routine
  5. Peg Leg Bates – Tap Dancer
  6. Laurence Harvey – “Charge of the Light Brigade”
  7. The Rolling Stones – “Around and Around”
  8. The Kim Sisters – “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho”
  9. The Berosinis – Acrobats
  10. Phyllis Diller – Comedienne
  11. The Rolling Stones – “Time Is On My Side”

The Ed Sullivan Show – May 2, 1965

  1. Opening
  2. The Rolling Stones – “The Last Time”
  3. Topo Gigio – Topo falls in love
  4. Morecambe and Wise – Comedy Sketch
  5. Leslie Uggams – “My Melancholy Baby”
  6. Gitta Morelly – Balancing Act
  7. Dusty Springfield – “I Only Want to Be With You”
  8. The Rolling Stones – “Little Red Rooster”
  9. The Rolling Stones – “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”
  10. Tom Jones – “Watcha Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You”
  11. Totie Fields – Comedienne
  12. The Half Brothers – Jugglers
  13. The Rolling Stones – “2120 South Michigan Avenue” under credits

The Ed Sullivan Show – February 13, 1966

  1. Opening
  2. The Rolling Stones – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
  3. Señor Wences – Ventriloquist
  4. Les Olympiades – Adagio Act
  5. Eddie Schaeffer – Comedian
  6. Hal Holbrook – Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Speech
  7. Romanian Folk Ballet – Traditional Music and Dance
  8. The Rolling Stones – “As Tears Go By”
  9. The Rolling Stones – “19th Nervous Breakdown”
  10. Sandy Baron – Comedian


The Ed Sullivan Show – September 11, 1966

  1. Opening
  2. The Rolling Stones – “Paint It, Black”
  3. The Muppets – Rock `n’ Roll Routine
  4. Franco Corelli and Renata Tebaldi – “Vicino a te” from Andrea Chénier
  5. Louis Armstrong – “Cabaret”
  6. Joan Rivers – Comedienne
  7. Robert Goulet – “Once I Had a Heart”
  8. Red Skelton – Comedian
  9. The Rolling Stones – “Lady Jane”
  10. The Rolling Stones – “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?”

The Ed Sullivan Show – January 15, 1967

  1. Opening
  2. Michael Bennett Dancers – Clog Dance
  3. Flip Wilson – Comedian
  4. Petula Clark – “Elusive Butterfly”
  5. Petula Clark – “Colour My World”
  6. Monroe – Acrobat
  7. The Muppets – Vaporous Pool Routine
  8. Sisters ’67 – “Kumbaya”
  9. Alan King – Comedian
  10. The Rolling Stones – “Ruby Tuesday”
  11. The Rolling Stones – “Let’s Spend Some Time Together”

The Ed Sullivan Show – November 23, 1969

  1. Opening
  2. The Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter”
  3. Rodney Dangerfield – Comedian
  4. Topo Gigio – Football Routine
  5. Ella Fitzgerald – “You Better Love Me”
  6. Ella Fitzgerald – “Open Your Window”
  7. Hawthorne Tiger & Horses – Animal Act
  8. Lucho Navarro – Comedian
  9. Robert Klein – Comedian
  10. The Rolling Stones – “Love In Vain”
  11. The Rolling Stones – “Honky Tonk Women”

Written by Joe Marchese

November 14, 2011 at 10:24

3 Responses

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  1. The “Clog Dance” is performed by the dancers from the short lived Broadway show “A Joyful Noise.”


    November 15, 2011 at 08:34

  2. Sounds cool. By including all the acts and the commercials it allows you to view those Stones performances in context. Imagine what it must have looked like to middle-aged people kicking off their shoes and lighting a Lucky to watch Sullivan, and being confronted with five long-haired, wtf?


    November 15, 2011 at 16:50

  3. Thank you, Joe, for reporting on the complete details of these two new Ed Sullivan Show DVD sets. The fact that they’re being released unexpurgated, replete with not only all of their original musical numbers, but even the originally-broadcast commercials, is welcome news to pop music enthusiasts and fans of vintage television…and sure to fuel further aggravation among devotees of The Dean Martin Show, whose hopes of seeing more intelligently-edited shows (we’ve already given up on the prospect of complete ones) are in the process of being dashed once again with the release of a second collection of severely-edited Dean Martin Shows on DVD, made available by Time-Life on Nov. 8.

    With the Sullivan, Sinatra and Crosby estates apparently able to secure the necessary clearances for the reissue of their vintage programs, Dean Martin fans are likely to raise anew questions of why their guy’s popular series can’t be accorded similar treatment.

    At The Golddiggers Super Site, we’ve published the first listing of the 18 episodes included on the new 6-disc “King of Cool: The Best Of The Dean Martin Variety Show” (, and we’ll be posting a through review of it, as we did in connection with the first DMS set last spring, in the next couple of weeks.

    Video Vision

    November 17, 2011 at 16:15

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