The wealth of jazz on the Ed Sullivan Show

Scores of historic jazz performances from the 1950s and 1960s are available on The Ed Sullivan Show's YouTube channel

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Roland Kirk in what was to be the last musical performance on the Ed Sullivan Show

The Ed Sullivan Show, which ran on CBS TV in the US every Sunday night from 1948-1971, is well known for appearances by The Beatles and other pop bands, but it also hosted many jazz performers, thus inadvertently forming a valuable historical archive of performances by leading jazz artists.

Performances by several of these artists are now available on the official YouTube channel of The Ed Sullivan Show. In April last, the channel highlighted several jazz clips as part of the 21st Jazz Appreciation Month, all of which remain available.

Among the jazz on the ESS YouTube channel are the following:

Louis Armstrong: On The Sunny Side Of The Street
Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Inflated Tears & Haitian Fight Song (the final musical performance on The Ed Sullivan Show)
Sarah Vaughan: Poor Butterfly 
Count Basie and His Orchestra: How High The Moon
Count Basie and His Orchestra: Back To The Apple
Count Basie And His Orchestra: One O’Clock Jump
Peggy Lee and Steve Lawrence: Manhattan
Peggy Lee: I Love Being Here With You/Yes Indeed
Peggy Lee: Fly Me To The Moon
Billy Eckstine: If I Can Help Somebody
Ella Fitzgerald: Hotta Chocolatta/Oh, Lady Be Good
Ella Fitzgerald: Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home
Louis Prima, Keely Smith, Sam Butera And The Witnesses: Embraceable You/I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good/I’m In The Mood For Love
Peggy Lee, Dave Barbour And His Orchestra: Show Me The Way To Get Out Of This World (’Cause That’s Where Everything Is)

Other jazz performances on the channel feature Benny Goodman, Nat King Cole, Don Ellis, Nina Simone, Keely Smith, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Louis Jordan, Gene Krupa, Woody Herman and Dave Brubeck. Jazz on the channel can be searched using the search feature on the channel’s main page.

The Ed Sullivan Show, which, it is claimed, is the most popular primetime variety show in American history, put on thousands of musical performances over its 23 years. In 1990 it was acquired from the Sullivan family by Andrew Solt of SOFA Entertainment Inc., which is now the copyright holder of the original Ed Sullivan programmes and over 150 hours of newly created programming.

The show expanded its reach through a global digital rights agreement between Universal Music Enterprises and SOFA Entertainment Inc which enabled the show’s material to be brought to a large audience via streaming. By June 2022, the channel had received more than 250 million views.

Needless to say, that number was not reached entirely via jazz. As of 3 August 2022, a playlist of jazz on The Ed Sullivan Show featured 87 items which had received 13,828 views.

The channel’s most-viewed clips overall include the Jackson 5’s I Want You Back, ABC, Who’s Loving You, and Medley: Stand!, Who’s Loving You, I Want You Back; Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel, and Love Me Tender; Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline; Tom Jones’ Delilah; Lesley Gore’s It’s My Party & She’s A Fool; and The Mamas & the Papas’ Monday, Monday; California Dreamin’ and Creeque Alley.