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The Beatles: Rock’s best TV hour

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NEW YORK — Feb. 9, 1964. A British band from Liverpool takes "The Ed Sullivan Show" stage and sends waves of teenagers into screaming convulsions across America, bewildering millions of parents.

What's rock 'n' roll's biggest TV moment?

A new top 100 list from VH1 and Entertainment Weekly magazine says that was it — the day Beatlemania hit the states and stayed.

The Beatles U.S. debut even topped the 1968 comeback of the King.

An estimated 73 million people were watching that night in '64 — about three times the audience of an episode of this summer's TV blockbuster "Survivor." John Lennon was so nervous he taped song lyrics to the back of his guitar.

For a generation of rock 'n' rollers, it was the moment they knew they wanted to be stars. "I remember thinking, 'this can be done. I can do that,' " singer Billy Joel said.

Elvis Presley's comeback special four years later was No. 2, and was deemed more important than the King's 1956 debut. The 1968 return at least showed those swiveling hips; in 1956, the camera only shot him from the waist up.

Several selections were more important in retrospect as historical movements rather than memorable moments, such as the premieres of MTV, "Saturday Night Live" and "American Bandstand."

Other moments in VH1's top 10 included Michael Jackson's first moonwalk on the 1983 "Motown 25" special and The Who's appearance on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" in 1967.

The list also includes three performances of the national anthem: by Marvin Gaye at the 1982 NBA All-Star Game in Detroit, by Whitney Houston at the 1991 Super Bowl, and by a crotch-grabbing Roseanne at a 1990 San Diego Padres game.

The Beatles made the list seven times, Madonna and Michael Jackson are each on it five times.

VH1 will air select moments in one-hour specials starting July 31.