Pickens resident part of ‘night that changed America’

By D. C. Moody

February 6, 2014

PICKENS — Feb. 9, 1964, was a date that changed American culture forever and one Pickens County resident was lucky enough to see it firsthand.

“One of my friends had gone to England, and she had found out about The Beatles, of course,” said Sherry Schell, who was Sherry Albrecht at the tender age of 14. “When she came back, everyone had begun to talk about them, and we listened to the records and loved them.”

Schell now lives in Pickens, running the Laurel Mountain Inn near Table Rock. She originally opened it as a bed and breakfast with her husband who passed away 12 years ago.

She looks back at that night with a smile.

“My dad was an officer with Chase Manhattan Bank and got tickets to The Ed Sullivan Show all the time,” Schell recounted of her childhood in New Jersey. “Somehow he was able to get tickets for that night, and we ended up in the first row of the balcony. That’s how we ended up getting photographed and put on television.”

The change in culture and music that was taking place across the United States during that time left many parents leery of rock and roll music and the message it was sending, but Schell didn’t have to convince her parents to allow her to go to the show.

In fact, they even drove.

“My parents were OK with it. They even drove us into New York City that night,” she said with a laugh. “They went across the street to a little bar to wait for us and the screen on the TV was so small, they couldn’t tell if it was me on TV or not.”

In today’s society merely appearing on TV in a cutaway wouldn’t bring much attention, but times were different, and when Schell returned to school the next day, all of her classmates had seen her and had to have details.

Again, the brief appearance could have died there, but for the popularity of the Fab Four and the iconic place they soon claimed.

“Back when it was the 40th anniversary, it suddenly became a bigger deal I was actually on TV,” Schell explained. “Since then, it’s been fun to look back and realize what a big deal that night was. I was just a teenager. I had no idea.”

Since that first interview about that fateful night, Schell has since popped up in an unexpected place, the Broadway Musical Jersey Boys, a musical retrospective of The Four Seasons.

“During the show, there are screens playing video from the 60s, crowd shots from live shows,” said Schell. “And during the show, just like that night at The Ed Sullivan Show, there I am.”

Maybe at the time Schell didn’t realize the significance of what she was seeing, but as the years have passed, the significance has become much clearer.

“They just don’t make music like that anymore,” Schell said wistfully. “I was lucky. I just didn’t know it.”

The original airing will be replayed as part of a program called The Beatles: The Night that Changed America — A Grammy Salute from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Feb. 9 on CBS.

And if you watch closely, Sherry Schell will relive history once again.

For those of you who might be wondering which Fab Four was her favorite, she was a Paul girl — though she does admit, with a sheepish grin, that she liked Ringo, too.