If ever there was a variety show on television that had it all: circus acts, opera singers, Broadway performances, ballet dancers, comedians, puppets and hot new recording artists of all genres and eras it was the “The Ed Sullivan Show.” This was the definitive entertainment show just about every household turned on to Sunday nights on CBS from 8 to 9 p.m. This is the same show that introduced the world to Elvis Presley and The Beatles in their landmark appearances. Ed Sullivan was the unlikeliest of hosts with his wooden mannerisms, non-smiling demeanor and his signature line “we have a really big shoew (show) for you tonight.”
Sullivan had an uncanny ability to find up and coming talent. He also tapped into a potential demographic ignored by all the other networks, the Baby boomers, when he had the Beatles on for three shows in 1964. From that moment on the “Ed Sullivan Show” featured at least one Top 40 recording act ranging from pop, rock to soul, R&B and then some. Any popular music act that made an appearance on the show was guaranteed success. On October 26, 1969 Santana made their one and only appearance on this monumental show shortly after Woodstock. They were featured once at the end before the close of the show when Sullivan featured the popular rock or pop acts. This was to keep the young viewers anxious and waiting.
It’s interesting to watch clips, like Santana’s, of the musical guests from the latter 1960s on the show with the psychedelic background flashing while they perform. In a strange way that is what you see at times on these reality TV competition shows nowadays like “X Factor” and “American Idol.” During Santana’s performance on Ed Sullivan they opened with “Persuasion” and closed it out with “Jingo” from their self-titled album. Ed introduced the band and afterwards bid the audience “good night.” Sometimes he talked with the music acts, sometimes he didn’t like with Santana. More than likely it was due to time constraints.
The entire clip of Santana on “The Ed Sullivan Show” is featured on the 7-DVD set “Ed Sullivan’s Rock & Roll Classics.” This is the same DVD showcased on PBS fund drives every now and then. Like all good things they must come to an end. “The Ed Sullivan Show” went off the air in June 1971. The famed Ed Sullivan Theater, where all of the shows were televised from, is now home to the “Late Show with David Letterman.”