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Media Advisory: The Beatles are coming!

Rock and roll historian Glenn Gass available to discuss 40th anniversary of Beatles invasion of America

EDITORS: To speak to Glenn Gass, contact Ryan Piurek at 812-855-5393 or rpiurek [at] indiana [dot] edu (rpiurek@indiana.edu) .

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Forty years ago next month, the Beatles launched the "British Invasion" of America with their heralded arrival in New York City and subsequent appearance on television's The Ed Sullivan Show. An estimated 73 million people tuned into the group's performance on Feb. 9, 1964, making it the most-viewed U.S. television program in history up to that time.

Glenn Gass is a professor at the Indiana University School of Music and author of the first for-credit course at any music school or conservatory on the history of rock and roll. He will mark the occasion of the Beatles' first Ed Sullivan Show appearance with a special talk on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. in Room 015 of IU Bloomington's School of Fine Arts building. The event is free and open to the public.

The Beatles' arrival in America was "a watershed moment for America. It was a moment with a capital 'M', a unifying event for the whole 1960s, baby-boom generation," Gass said. "Everybody you knew was watching The Ed Sullivan Show that night, including kids and adults. It was an event that you had to witness. It was huge."

Gass remains in awe of the Beatles' ability to transcend generations and maintain their popular appeal. "The best music is timeless, and you really see that in my classes. I have 18-year-olds who tell me that they absolutely love the Beatles. In 1964, if you had told people that the Beatles would still be so popular in the year 2004, well, first it would have sounded like a science fiction novel, and then, nobody would have believed you."

Gass wrote the textbook A History of Rock Music and teaches a course on "Music of the Beatles," a song-by-song look at the Fab Four's influence on rock and roll. This summer he will take a group of 18-20 students to London for an in-depth course on the Beatles, which will include Beatle-related walking tours, a six-day trip to Liverpool, bus and subway trips, movies and videos.

Gass' classes on the history of rock and roll, the first of which began in 1982, are among the most popular offered at IU. Gass also is a classical composer. He has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer and the Indiana Arts Commission.

For more about Glenn Gass, visit his Web site at http://www.music.indiana.edu/som/courses/rock/ggass.html.