Been There, Beamed That
Perhaps more significant to today's audiences than Sgt. Pepper's 40th anniversary was the Beatles' contribution that same summer to the program Our World. As part of the very first live global television link, the show was broadcast to 26 countries and watched by 350 million people via satellite on June 25, 1967. In the euphoria of the times, it was hoped this technological advance would bring the world closer together. Instead, it led to the "Star Wars" missile defense system and using Google Maps Street View to watch a guy peeing on a curb.
So how did we get from "All You Need Is Love" to "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" in 40 short years? Not sure, but ol' Sputnik's successors on high caught some great voyeuristic rock moments on the ground.
June 13, 1970: Anyone who stayed up late to watch The Cincinnati Pop Festival live got to see a drunken Iggy Pop singing "TV Eye." After repeated crowd-surfing, jumping, and disappearing into the audience, Pop emerged from the mob smearing something on his chest, to the astonishment of the show's announcer: ("That's . . . peanut butter!") No, that's . . . entertainment!
January 14, 1973: Elvis performed his Aloha From Hawaii concert via satellite to a global audience. All the excesses that would soon render Elvis a parody of himself began here. Elvis singing "American Trilogy" while wearing a winged, white jumpsuit that gave new meaning to the term "spread eagle" and bounding onstage to the strains of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" were a portent of the near future when Elvis' weight would balloon to that of Unicron from The Transformers.
July 13, 1985: Live Aid was a massive, worldwide humanitarian effort seen by an estimated 1.5 billion people that answered some unimagined questions about world hunger: Could the Western world swallow rock from the Soviet Union? Could record sales actually go down from global exposure? And is it possible to bore people on two continents while simultaneously ruining a Led Zeppelin reunion, all on the same day? Answers: a) Nyet, b) Ask Adam Ant, and c) See hungry-for-exposure Phil Collins, who made "Take a Look at Me Now" the theme of the day when he sucked at Wembley Stadium in London, flew the Concorde to Philly to suck there, and then proved he couldn't play like John Bonham without a proper rehearsal.
February 19, 1996: At the BRIT Awards, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker bounds onstage while Michael Jackson is posing messianically on a crane lift above a throng of adoring children in rags, singing "Earthsong." Cocker feigns dropping trou and lifting up the front of his shirt and is later arrested on suspicion of attacking children. No sense in summoning the Irony Police for this one.
February 1, 2004: Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson's Super Bowl halftime show duet ends in a wardrobe malfunction that sends outraged Republicans complaining to the FCC that their children were damaged by seeing a nipple for a split-second. Most breast-fed children spend their entire first year learning how to focus by staring at a breast. Unless, apparently, you're a frustrated Republican.
December 3, 2006: Although the Kennedy Center Honors show venerating Dolly Parton was taped, thanks to YouTube, the whole world gets to see Jessica Simpson screw up the words to "9 to 5" three weeks before the broadcast. With no good excuse, Jess finds a way to blame forgetting the words on her dress. That's like Michael Richards blaming his racial outburst on Dr. Scholl's footpads.
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