When All Crime Stopped For 1 Hour
(bumper music) - [Narrator] CBS presents this program in color. Because of the following's special broadcast, the Lucy Show and the Andy Griffith Show will not be presented this evening. (clock ticking) - [Narrator] Even in these modern times, we tend to really underestimate just how much we've grown as people. Technology has given us access to so much information, nonstop surveillance that everyday aspects of the real world seem to contradict each other. We turn on the news and it seems like the world is ending, yet crime rates are some of the lowest they've ever been in almost 40 years. Our feelings and views are more often than not relative to the things that we are told.
But what about a time before constant media coverage where things were left quite ambiguous, sort of anything goes. What if there was a point in human history where for just one hour, all your worries, all your troubles, the toils of life itself just went away? February 9th, 1964, 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. This particular date became the subject of several newspaper articles alleging that at this time, all crime in the United States stopped, completely ceased to exist. An hour where people finally set aside their differences to observe a strange foreign invasion that had just struck the nation. Now, foreign invasions were not unheard of, the war of 1812 or attack on Pearl Harbor, but this one was different.
It wasn't an infiltration of weaponry or military espionage, but instead, a bug, a new bug that was going around certain regions of Western Europe, causing mass hysteria among young people. And now it had just found a new home. (upbeat music) (women screaming) ♪ Oh, yeah I ♪ ♪ Tell you something ♪ - [Narrator] The Beatles sound like insect life, but it's spelled B-E-A-T and an epidemic called Beatlemania has seized the teenage population, especially female. - [Narrator] They were the quintessential look for teenage rebellion, the embodiment of the beat generation. They were the Beatles. ♪ And you know you should be glad ♪ (women screaming) And on a cold Friday afternoon, thousands of screaming fanatics greeted the four boys just after they landed at New York City's newly titled John F. Kennedy International Airport.
They had the highest selling album in the United States, breaking records literally never seen before in the history of pop culture. Their music, charm, funny haircuts, we're taking the world by storm. - [Woman] I love them. I don't care what anybody thinks. I love the Beatles for them and I'll always love them.
Even when I'm 105, an old grandmother, I love 'em. And Paul McCartney, if you are listening, Andrea from Brooklyn loves you with all her heart. I love you, Paul. (women screaming) - [Narrator] But even this was just the tip of the iceberg because 48 hours later, the entire course of history would change.
- Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles. (women screaming) - [Narrator] America was never the same. Yes, all it took was one 60 minute television broadcast on a variety show to forever alter the course of modern culture.
A country still mourning the unexpected death of President Kennedy, just two months prior, now faced with even more pandemonium, looking for any excuse to see a bright future ahead, and the Beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan Show did just that. (women screaming) 73 million people tuned in that night, 40% of the entire United States population watching with pure euphoria as the band debuted their first show in front of a live American audience. It became the most watched television broadcast in history and marked a turning point for culture in the 20th century. Many reporters were quick to recognize the broadcast's importance, including the Washington Post, stating that during the hour the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan's Show, there wasn't a hubcap stolen in America. It quickly became common knowledge that so many people watched the Beatles perform that night. There was no one around to commit any crime.
Even all the thieves and bank robbers couldn't resist their charm and decided to take a break. But is the story even true? Over 50 years later, this claim is still widely taught as fact and has become a subject of great controversy, with many historians strongly contesting it due to lack of evidence. But where did such a story come from and why was it even written in the first place? Today we dive into the origins to one of Rock and Roll's, oldest urban legends and how it's conception was a byproduct of the year, which forever changed American music. ♪ I wanna hold your hand ♪ (women screaming) (soft music) The Beatles debut in America was actually meant to start much earlier, about two months earlier to be exact, following just another episode of the soap opera, "As The World Turns," was meant to be a new segment about the Beatles rapidly growing popularity in Europe and their latest album with the Beatles, which had just come out that very same day. The segment would be hosted by Walter Cronkite as a continuation of an earlier segment from the CBS News with Mike Wallace.
But then all plans were interrupted quite literally. - And I gave it a great deal of thought, grandpa, - [Narrator] There is a bulletin from CBS News. In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas. United Press says that the wounds for President Kennedy perhaps could be fatal.
Stay tuned to CBS News for further detail. - [Narrator] It takes more than an instant to make a real cup of coffee. - [Narrator] Just about every suburban American housewife sat frozen in front of the television set, until around an hour later when the news was regretfully announced.
- Leaving a dinner meeting there from Dallas, Texas, the Flash, apparently official President Kennedy died at 1:00 PM Central Standard Time, two o'clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago. - [Reporter] What's your feeling right now? I really couldn't say really, right now, I just don't know what to do. (dramatic music) - [Narrator] All affairs in the United States came to a halt. Rather than talking about England's newest pop group, Cronkite was instead delivering news that the most powerful man in the world had been murdered. He had completely forgotten about The Beatles, and of course, who wouldn't have? Was America ever going to recover from this? It was around 18 days later when Mr. Cronkite was looking for a way to cheer up a grieving nation, and that was when he remembered it.
Mike Wallace's TV spot. It had been enough time where he decided to air the story becoming a TV segment which would propel this inevitable snowball that was Beatlemania. Which sort of begs the question, would the Beatles have been nearly as big as they were if JFK hadn't been assassinated? Popular, sure. But stopping all crime in America popular? Given the question being hypothetical, there is no way to know for sure, but it most certainly created a chain reaction.
This performance is regarded as being so important because it represents the start of a new era. It was the euphoric high America needed to get out of a brief period of cynicism and stagnation, a reminder that no matter how bad things could possibly get, we could all still come together and find some valid reasons to be happy with what we have. It gave the country a glimmer of hope and a new sense of direction. Things wouldn't be better, per se, just different. The sixties as we know it, we're finally here. So is the legend true? Did crime actually stop when The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan show? Well, no.
Alright, end of video. Thanks for watching, I'm kidding. If only the answer were that simple. It's not, not even close, but even if it's completely made up, how did it start? Why did it start? Let's revisit that quote from the Washington Post, the earliest record of this claim, "During the hour The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan Show, there wasn't a hubcap stolen in America. What else could this possibly mean? Well, in a funny sort of way, this is kind of like the black and blue, white and gold dress of journalism. It completely depends on how you interpret this sentence.
B.F. Henry wasn't saying that criminal activity across the country halted. Instead, he was actually insulting The Beatles and their fans. The Beatles were just another example of the role models that were poisoning today's youth. They represented rebelling against the status quo, disobeying your parents. The type of people who would be going around stealing hubcaps off people's cars, we're all busy watching their Ed Sullivan performance, because that's all Beatles fans are, rowdy, rotten children destroying our great country.
Do you see a bit of a parallel here with things going on today? For the very young people watching this, you've probably heard your grandparents say something along the lines of, oh, the music you kids listen to today is just garbage. When I was growing up, we listened to real music. Well, what if I told you that when your grandparents were your age, their grandparents said the exact same thing about The Beatles, Elton John, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, etcetera. In fact, it was arguably even worse.
Parents back then did not have the experience and understanding of young people that we do now, and this was because of a new horrifying concept, a new subculture that had been somewhat indirectly invented around 10 to 15 years prior. In the 1950s, you have the emergence of the teenager. For the first time, there was a new group of people that did not fall into the category of child or adult, because that's the way it always was. You were a child then once you reached adolescence and became the age where you could then have children of your own, you were an adult. But in the 1950s, something amazing happened right after World War II, the economy in America was booming, booming during a time where mass consumerism was growing exponentially.
And on top of that, during a time where the stigma of a working woman was going down. You have the rise of the dual income family where both mom and dad had jobs, often making twice the annual income a family did decades before. And it's also at this time where President Eisenhower is putting together the American highway systems. So people are no longer living in the city, they're living in suburbs.
So a car is much less of a luxury and more of a necessity. It was the perfect storm of circumstances that led to an explosion in wealth and quality of life for American people. All survival needs for the average American family were met.
And then some. These young adults who are still attending high school start earning an allowance from their well off parents to do chores around the house. And then when they turn 16, they too get their own jobs. And then after saving up long enough, they buy a car. Now they've got their own wheels and their own spare change. They go out with their friends to the hop, record stores, drive-ins.
For the first time, they now have their own independence and essentially get a head start in experiencing the real world. And they get an earlier opportunity to find out their identities, discover themselves, and their parents start to realize just how privileged their kids really are. They grew up during the depression where survival was a priority. - I sure as hell didn't get to choose what I wanted to do. My father told me. - I was raised in the thirties.
My dream was indoor plumbing. - [Narrator] We saw something very similar during the agricultural revolution almost 12,000 years ago. Humans discover the ability to farm and they no longer have to hunt for food.
They now have a surplus of crops. Their survival needs are met. And instead of spending all their time hunting, they can now spend their time doing other things, such as creating civilization and art.
In the 1950s, the Great Depression was gone and these needs were fulfilled and parents are starting to worry about how different their kids are acting compared to them when they were their age. Their kids start to get angsty. They're out past curfew.
They're smoking, they're reading racy magazines, they're, oh my God, talking back to their parents. Oh God, the humanity. A moral panic is starting to form, juvenile delinquency.
Parents are now becoming horrified of their kids. They're becoming violent, joining gangs, turning into deviance, killers even. It obviously can't be the fault of the parents. That's such a crazy thought. Someone or something is to blame. Well, in 1955, a movie would come out that would accidentally change everything.
"Blackboard Jungle," a movie initially intended as a PSA to parents about the dangers of their children ended up completely backfiring and becoming what was essentially the national anthem for teenagers. And it was all because of the first two minutes of the film. It would become the first movie in history to feature a song from a new genre called Rock and Roll. ♪ One two, three O'clock, four O'clock ♪ With Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets.
There were reports of teenagers getting up and dancing in the middle of the movie theater. This was the movie that made Rock and Roll popular. And at that point it was all teenagers cared about. This moral panic only started to get bigger and more concerning and began influencing media and pop culture even further. - You ought kill your old father. - You're tearing me apart.
You say one thing, he said another, and everybody changes back again. He got the bullet. (car racing) - Ahh.
- [Narrator] And so did rock and roll. It was the best medium teenagers had at their disposal to express their contempt and rebellion. They knew that grownups hated them and they didn't care.
Rock and Roll was a new force that showed no signs of stopping, which only continued in the 1960s, but in a much more experimental way. They thought juvenile delinquency was the worst it was going to get. Little did they know that there was something much worse around the corner.
Yes, something even more terrifying than a teenager. ♪ Wake up in the morning ♪ ♪ There's a bowl of bite size ♪ ♪ This is for you and you and you ♪ - You now have a generation born after World War II and even more far removed than the ones which existed a decade prior. They relay even less to their depression era appearance. They're even more privileged than before, all while still benefiting from an overall solid economy. (soft rock music) It's at this point when the teenager really starts manifesting, they have more free time than any other generation preceding them, which means more time for them to think for themselves, discover themselves.
They start getting into politics. They begin studying religions and cultures. They start experimenting with all walks of life.
And most importantly, they take art to a whole new level. So personal and so profound. And that includes music. You have the birth of the Counterculture Movement, a collective practice which would ultimately create the distinct political and social ideations of the 1960s, which in 1964 were just around the corner. And the Beatles were a representation of that. - When did music become so important? - It's always been important.
- Everybody keeps coming and looking for some song. They're so specific. (upbeat music) No, these so-called hippies were the minority, but the vibrations were very present throughout the public. The Beatles were a foreshadowing of what was to come. Another example of pushing back against the status quo. And the parents were very aware of that and gravely concerned.
They're openly rambunctious on stage. They sing about holding hands. They're trying to turn boys into girls with their long haircuts.
They don't make real music like Beethoven and Strauss. They make crap that's trying to rot your children's brains with rock and roll and rebellion. - Another temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That's as bad as listening to The Beatles without ear muffs. - [Narrator] They're just taking over the world.
They're like a virus, literally a bug, an epidemic so great, it even coined its own term Beatlemania. And these teens are going crazy. - Oh my God, oh my God, it's Paul, I'm gonna die right here. He's so cute. So sexy.
- He's cardboard. - [Narrator] And the worst part, they're not even from America. This is a foreign invasion of delinquent behavior. (upbeat rock music) The Ed Sullivan Show performance would start a phenomenon known as the British invasion, where several British acts would follow dominating the music charts in the United States like the Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, The animals, Hermann's Hermits, The Zombies, The Kinks.
Pink Floyd, The Who, The Yardbirds, a band which would eventually lead to the creation of Led Zeppelin. Now, all this talk about teenagers in the 1950s and sixties might sound a bit absolute. There absolutely are parallels to teenage behavior that have existed throughout history. In fact, so have fan frenzies. Before Beatlemania, even before Elvis, you had Lisztomania. (upbeat music) No, not that Lisztomania.
I'm talking about the fan frenzy that emerged in Germany back in the early 1840s for Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. Much like The Beatles, he gained recognition for his music and he too had crowds of screaming girls going crazy for him. I mean, look at that hair. Who wouldn't want him? The point is adolescent attitudes and even crushes aren't exactly new, but the teenager in the modern sense of the word is new.
They now started having a say in things. Their economic influence has increased. They are slowly becoming the ones in charge. And for the first time, mainstream music is catering to a predominantly young audience. And that was why so many people tuned in that day and all the more reason for their parents to think that The Beatles were a bad influence.
So if your grandparents ever scolded you for how obnoxious you're acting, just remind them that your generation statistically is more well behaved than they were. So yeah, that's what this quote means. And this is all a bit ironic when you think about it.
This band, which was characterized as being rebellious and delinquent, was in many respects, the exact opposite. In fact, Ed Sullivan himself said that The Beatles were extremely well-behaved, professional, polite gentleman, very different from his experience with Buddy Holly and Jim Morrison of the Doors. And on top of that, The Beatles would be one of many who would write songs about coming together and unconditionally loving one another, the kind of music that makes you feel good.
And that's really what Rock and Roll is all about, feelings. It's the Band-Aid we slap onto the world's problems, even in the midst of a horrific national crisis. It makes us feel good and gives us an excuse to set aside just an hour where we can just pretend that those problems don't exist. And because Rock and Roll means so much to so many people, they may sometimes express that enthusiasm in ways that may be a bit embellished and it might not even be intentional. It's kind of like when you end up having such an amazing day and when you tell people about it, you may exaggerate some of the details just because you are so excited about it.
And again, it can be subconscious. You may not even be aware that you're doing it. The Beatles' Ed Sullivan performance was such an amazing life-changing moment for a lot of people. Many of them even became musicians specifically because of that performance.
So for all these mesmerized people to misconstrue what BF Henry was trying to say and instead believe that The Beatles were some kind of deities powerful enough to solve all America's problems for one hour, it doesn't seem as far-fetched anymore. I mean, several other newspapers would start publishing the claim as fact shortly afterwards. And with the passage of time, it would become part of Rock and Roll lore. And we've seen this with Rock and Roll before, like countless times because Rock and Roll is more than just some type of music that makes you jump and wanna dance.
It's an art form that also has an aura of mystery which surrounds it. It's a living entity that will do anything it can to get you to keep on listening to it. And there's nothing that does that more than a good juicy story.
Not too long after, a very strange, creepy urban legend would start circulating American college campuses in late 1967, before becoming national news, two years later. This story would be known as Paul is dead. - [Narrator] Pleasure to report that Beatle Paul McCartney is alive and well. And as he puts it, unconcerned about the rumors of his death. - [Narrator] Big mystery surrounding one of the most famous subjects, Beatle Paul McCartney, A rumor that he is dead has been starkly denied by several people, including Paul.
- [Narrator] There is he walks, he talks, he sings, Paul McCartney of the Beatles. He finally got in front of a camera in Glasgow today to put an end to the speculation that he is no longer among the living, he is. And now the whole world has been apprised of that fact. - Legend has it that on the night of November 9th, 1966, Paul McCartney died in a car accident and was replaced by a lookalike named William Shares Campbell.
(dramatic music) The Beatles did this because, well, they were at the peak of their popularity and they didn't wanna split up and lose all that success, but they didn't wanna lie to their fans either. So they started hiding clues alluding to Paul's death in their album covers, their films, even their music if you play it backwards. - There were certain things on the Magical Mystery Tour album, as well, visually and music-wise, which proved interesting. For instance, Paul without his shoes on, which is the mark of a corpse in Italy, his shoes are, then you've got McCartney. He's out of step and barefoot and dressed in a normal suit.
The mark of the corpse, again. - The story got so out of control, Paul himself had to come forward to the press and confirm that he was in fact alive. Now, hindsight is 20/20 and with what we know now, a story like this sounds completely ridiculous. But this was before the internet and easy to access, fact checking.
The Beatles were no longer touring anymore at this point. They were exclusively an in-studio band. So any info on Paul's whereabouts was limited. And of course, any interviews he had done were obviously done by this imposter with the limited knowledge the average person had at that time, a good amount of them really didn't know what to think. And finding clues on the Beatles album covers and playing the records backwards became a bit of a game.
In many respects, The Beatles basically created the first ARG, even though a lot of it wasn't even intentional. But that's what ended up happening. In fact, even today, there are huge online communities that still believe in the Paul is dead theory. And I can tell you from experience that a story, this insane, one that has so many rabbit holes you can go down would undeniably make rock and roll so much more interesting to anyone.
One of my earliest memories ever of using the internet was going on those weird like geo cities websites that were completely dedicated to the Paula's death theory. And I would spend just hours and hours late at night looking at album covers, listening to the music backwards and researching all kinds of clues pertaining to it. And as a kid, I believed it and it terrified me, but I could not stop researching it because well, children love to be scared.
And I can say with full confidence that the Paul is dead theory made listening to the Beatles as a kid so much more magical and made me the fan that I am today. And maybe on some kind of subconscious level, that is why weird urban legends like this form, because it makes the experience of the music even so much more exciting than it already was. The Paul is dead rumor would indirectly lead to another moral panic in the 1970s called the Satanic Panic, a theory that rock bands were trying to corrupt teenagers by hiding satanic messages in their songs that could be heard if you played the records backwards. - You're frightened, nervous or uptight. That's all right. God can take care of that.
Back to Stairway to Heaven, here's that same section reversed. ♪ My sweet Satan ♪ - Devil loves me. Devil lives, it's clear as day. - In my language, the record just said, I want to sex your monkey.
- And then all the way in the 1990s, you have one of the earliest internet mysteries, Publius Enigma, a user who is still unidentified today, that held an online contest involving clues that could be found on Pink Floyd's upcoming album, "The Division Bell" and legend has it that this user infiltrated the stage lights at a Pink Floyd concert and used them to spell out their name. They were never heard from again. So yeah, Rock and Roll and urban legends go together like peanut butter and jelly. They just enhance the music listening experience. So if we have things like Paul is dead, Publius Enigma, and a number of other strange stories, would it be unreasonable to believe that people would perpetuate this urban legend that all crimes stopped when the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show? Like I said, it makes the story more exciting, so people want to believe that it's true and it's still commonly taught as being true, even today.
During my third year of college, I took a history of the Beatles class where we learned this story as fact, it was even a true or false question on an exam. Even though there was evidence pointing to the contrary, the truth just wasn't as interesting. The very same week that BF Henry's claim was published, a follow-up column was written.
"It is with a heavy heart that a must inform Newsweek that this report was not true. Lawrence R. Fellenz of 307 East Groveton Street, Alexandria, had his car parked on church property during that hour, and all four of his hubcaps were stolen. The Washington Post regrets this error and DistrictLliner Fellenz regrets that somewhere in Alexandria there lives a hipster who was too poor to own a television set." So although the answer might be the cop out lazy one grownups like to throw around to absolve themselves of any responsibility, if you ever did wonder where this urban legend came from, quite literally blame teenagers and rock and roll.
As an adult, that curiosity and that benefit of the doubt that I did have about things like the Paula is dead conspiracy is now gone. It's kind of like the rock and roll version of believing in the Tooth Fairy. Now that I've grown up, I can see the Paul is dead theory for what it actually is and relive it in a completely new way. But not everyone, including adults, does that. They continue to believe in the magic. And honestly, that's fine because they still have that childlike spirit.
And in some ways it's not always the facts that matter. Sometimes the feelings are more important. I recently re-watched an episode of "The Wonder Years," one of my favorite shows as a teenager, and I could not stop thinking about it. The episode was called "Coda." The main character, a kid named Kevin Arnold, is taking piano lessons with an old lady named Mrs. Carpel. But it's very clear to her that Kevin is just kind of phoning it in.
He doesn't actually care about piano enough to practice, but the upcoming piano recital is just around the corner. And Kevin must learn to play "Canon and D Major." Another student who will also be performing at this recital is Ronald Hirschmuller, a rival of Kevin, who is just a child prodigy, the most amazing piano player you would ever know. - Adiu, Mrs. Carpel, that's farewell in French. - Kevin. - Surshuka.
- [Narrator] Now Kevin just doesn't see the point of even playing piano anymore. He's never going to be as good as the snooty undefeatable, Ronald Hirschmuller. But Mrs. Carpel sees right through Kevin and basically tells him to cut the crap. - Oh, don't give me that. You have more talent in your little pinky than Ronald Hirschmuller has in his whole body.
Why that kid's a machine, you have a feel for music and you know it, but that's not the point, who's better, who's worse? I mean, that's not music. That's not what it's about. - It's not about who's better or worse at playing the piano. It's about feeling the music, not just performatively playing it in some routine arbitrary way.
And then Kevin finally figures that out. He begins to feel the music. It flows right through his veins. It becomes an integral part of the way he thinks in his everyday life. The world has just gotten so much more whimsical and beautiful, and that is deeply reflected in his new found talent in playing the piano. He's now just as good, if not better than Ronald Hirschmuller.
But at the dress rehearsal, he finds out that Ronald is also going to be playing "Canon in D Major." - Now, I've never actually been hit by a ton of bricks but. What? - [Narrator] Now he feels he has to be better than him, and all this pressure makes him completely flop at the rehearsal. The entire experience ends up being so humiliating for Kevin. He decides to not attend the recital at all, but instead watches Ronald Hirschmuller in the distance, taking in all the glory. And Kevin eventually grows up completely letting go of that innocence, his talent as a piano player, he would never do another piano lesson again.
This episode hit me so hard when I watched it recently because now I can relate to it myself and where I'm at in my life. When I was a child, I wasn't thinking about how the way things are supposed to be. I was just thinking about things the way I wanted to. It wasn't about playing "Canon and D Major" the right way. It was about playing it in a way that fits you, in a way that makes you experience life in a whole new spiritual way. But as you grow up, all these external factors within your environment start to influence you and that childlike magic sort of fades away.
And as a grownup, you can't help but start to see things much more objectively, much more cynically. Perhaps, these urban legends are not meant to be taken literally. They're meant to be felt and experienced along with the music. It goes to show just the kind of impact music has on not just people, but the everyday world and even the way we run it.
Music literally has the power to start and end distinct eras throughout history. And even just one song can instantly bring back memories to a particular time, a time that we look at with such rose tinted glasses that the idea of some big cultural force like the Beatles, having the ability to stop all crime across the country, doesn't seem so far fetched anymore. And gradually by word of mouth, it enters into the realm of common knowledge where people don't bother to look into the evidence that is behind the story because they already assume it to be true. And sometimes they may even want it to be true because that makes for a much more interesting story. But I would argue that learning all the facts, their origins and the reasonings behind why these pieces of modern folklore are still widely taught today, is far more interesting than anything else. But I guess that's sort of a byproduct of growing up.
There are things that you believed as a kid that made the world feel like a much more magical place. But as you get older, you start to see things for what they really are. And that may seem a bit scary at first, but in many ways it's an opportunity for you to reexperience those things from an entirely different perspective, with a whole new outlook on life. That magic hasn't dwindled away, it's just re-transformed.
And it may take some getting used to, it's not better or worse, it's just different. Much like the world as decades pass by. One of the very first Beatles songs I ever learned to play on an instrument was Blackbird from the "White Album."
It was Christmas morning, and I had just gotten my very first guitar, and then I attended my very first guitar lesson. I never did forget about that day. I remember the vibrant yellow light glowing from my guitar teacher's room, which smelled of dust and was roughly the size of a storage closet.
And I remember the entire tone of that room changing as he maneuvered his fingers to play a rendition of the song that was identical to the record version. And almost 20 years later, I still remember every note of the music that wandered out into that midtown office building. The only thing is, I can't remember how to play it anymore. (soft music)