(CNN) -- A milestone in music history happened 50 years ago today.
The Beatles arrived in America on February 7, 1964, two days before their iconic performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show". That of course launched them to superstardom and made them among the most-successful rock bands of all time.
When they came to the U.S. for the first time, their hit "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was already at the top of the charts. But most Americans didn't know anything about the band; the TV appearance changed all that.
Over 73 million Americans watched the "The Ed Sullivan Show" that Sunday night; more than a third of all Americans, and one of the biggest U.S. TV audiences ever.