The Beatles, from left, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison, are shown in this November 1963 photo. (AP Photo)
The Beatles, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and John Lennon, have their hair combed by stylists on the set of their first movie production, "A Hard Day's Night," at Twickenham Film Studios in Middlesex, outside London, England, on March 12, 1964. The hair stylists, who have parts in the film, are, from left, Patti Boyd, 19, Tina Williams, 17, Pru Bury, 22, and Susan Whitman, 17. (AP Photo)
In this Feb. 9, 1964 file photo, The Beatles perform on the CBS "Ed Sullivan Show" in New York. Ringo Starr plays drums and playing guitars from left are Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon. An estimated 73 million Americans tuned in, the largest ever for a TV show at the time, or three times the amount of people who watched the latest "American Idol" finale, according to the Nielsen Co. (AP Photo, file)
In this Feb. 9, 1964 picture, The Beatles perform at the "Ed Sullivan Show," in New York. It was the band's first American appearance, and influenced other musicians future careers. Front row from left; Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon. Drummer Ringo Starr is at rear. Nearly 40 years after breaking up, The Beatles are still breaking records for album sales. EMI Group PLC says consumers in North America, Japan and the U.K. bought more than 2.25 million copies of the Fab Four's re-mastered albums in the first five days after their Sept. 9, 2009 release. (AP Photo)
The Beatles Ringo Starr plays drums on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. (AP Photo)
In this Feb. 9, 1964. file photo Paul McCartney, right, shows his bass guitar to Ed Sullivan before the Beatles' live television appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in New York along with John Lennon, center, and Ringo Starr, behind McCartney, and Beatles manage Brian Epstein, behind Sullivan. McCartney turned 70 Monday June 18, 2012. (AP Photo)
The Beatles, Britain's top rock band, relax in London over tea in 1963. The group from left: John Lennon, Paul McCartney; George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The group is sporting similar thatch haircuts with bangs to the edge of their eyebrows. No other information available with photo. (AP Photo)
The Beatles, from left, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison, are shown in a studio rehearsing in a studio, in London, England, Oct. 1, 1963. (AP Photo)
The British rock and roll group The Beatles are seen during their first U.S. tour in 1964. The band members, from left to right, are George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. (AP Photo)
In this file picture taken on )ctober 26, 1965 Beatles fans try to break through a police line at Buckingham Palace in London where the group were due to receive the Member of the British Empire (MBE) decoration from the Queen. The Beatles' debut tune that launched Britain into the '60s and helped to ignite a worldwide obsession for the four-man British rock band celebrates its 50th anniversary on October 5, 2012. Even though it only peaked at no. 17 on the British charts, the single "Love Me Do" was the rock group's first hit record when released in October 1962. AFP PHOTO/FILES (Photo credit should read -/AFP/GettyImages)
This February 11, 1964 photo provided by Christie's auction house, from a collection of photos of The Beatles shot by photographer Mike Mitchell at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C., shows Paul McCartney, left, and John Lennon during group's first US concert, two days after their Ed Sullivan appearance. The concert photos, taken when the photographer was just 18 years old, will be auctioned by Christie's in their sale "The Beatles Illuminated: The Discovered Works of Mike Mitchell," in New York on July 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Christie's, Mike Mitchell)
The Beatles pose together before their performance in a TV studio in London, England, in 1966. (AP Photo)
Liverpudlian pop group The Beatles on Granada TV's Late Scene Extra television show filmed in Manchester, England on November 25, 1963. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Crying Beatle fans at “Ernst-Merck-Halle” during the performance of the Beatles in Hamburg, Germany on June 26, 1964. “I do like beat music and the Beatles themselves much more”. (AP Photo/Ducklau)
In this Feb. 18, 1964, file photo, The Beatles, from left, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, take a fake blow from Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, while visiting the heavyweight contender at his training camp in Miami Beach, Fla. Ali turns 70 on Jan. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/File)
John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles in Studio 2 at Abbey Road in London recording the single 'She Loves You', 1st July 1963. Lennon plays a Gibson J160E acoustic guitar and McCartney a Hofner 500/1 violin bass. (Photo by Terry O'Neill/Getty Images)
1st February 1968: Beatle Paul McCartney gives the thumbs up during production of the new Beatles film, a feature length cartoon called 'Yellow Submarine'. (Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images)
A fan of British pop group The Beatles holds vintage record album Beatles for Sale in a record shop in Stuttgart, Germany on Dec. 10, 1980. A special stand with portraits of the four members of the group and all available records was erected this morning in memory of John Lennon who was killed in New York City. (AP Photo/Thomas Meyer)
Ringo Starr In A Garden Listening To A Hit Song During Sixties, (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 10: Allen Livingston, President of Capital Records presents the Beatles with Gold Record at the Hotel Plaza. (Photo by Paul DeMaria/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
The Beatles, from left,George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Ringo Starr, perform on stage in London, England, Oct. 1, 1963. (AP Photo)
Teenage reactions to pop group The Beatles during their performance in Washington DC, America, on February 11, 1964. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
The Beatles rehearse for that night's Royal Variety Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre, 4th November 1963. The Queen Mother will attend. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The Beatles John Lennon, left, Paul McCartney, center background, Ringo Starr, second from right, and George Harrison, right, join the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, center, as they arrive by train at Bangor, Wales, United Kingdom, to participate in a weekend of meditation in this file photo dated Aug. 26, 1967. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian guru to the Beatles and millions of meditators, died late Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008 at his home in the Dutch town of Vlodrop, a spokesman said. The Maharishi was believed to be 91. (AP Photo, File)
The Beatles are seen backstage during a break in rehearsal for the live broadcast of their new song "All You Need Is Love" on the "Our World" program at EMI studios in London, June 1967. From left: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon. (AP Photo)
June 1967: The Beatles at the EMI studios in Abbey Road, as they prepare for 'Our World', a world-wide live television show broadcasting to 24 countries with a potential audience of 400 million. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
This undated image provided by Heritage Auctions shows what is described as a “pristine” copy of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album autographed by all four members of the band, that is up for auction. A statement from Dallas-based Heritage Auctions says the bidding for the album has passed $110,000 and could surpass $150,000 by the time bidding is closed on March 30. (AP Photo/Heritage Auctions)
The Beatles rehearse for their forthcoming television show at Wembley Studios, London, April 1964. Ringo Starr is costumed as Sir Francis Drake, with his bandmates as Heralds. From left, John Lennon, Ringo, George Harrison, Paul McCartney. (AP Photo)
UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 20: Photo of BEATLES and Paul McCARTNEY and John LENNON and Ringo STARR; L-R. Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison - posed, group shot at Press call for Sgt Pepper Album launch (Photo by Cummings Archives/Redferns)
The Beatles relax in a hotel room in Paris, 16th January 1964. From left to right, John Lennon (1940 - 1980), George Harrison (1943 - 2001), band manager Brian Epstein (1934 - 1967), Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. (Photo by Harry Benson/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney performs during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London.. AFP PHOTO / POOL / CAMERON SPENCER (Photo credit should read Cameron Spencer/AFP/GettyImages)
Former Beatles' singer Sir Paul McCartney gives a thumb up after being awarded by French president as officer of the "Legion d'Honneur" (Legion of honour), the French hightest award on September 8, 2012 at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris. AFP PHOTO / POOL PHILIPPE WOJAZER (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/GettyImages)
British musician, former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr performs live during his concert at the Congress Center on June 29, 2011in Prague, Czech Republic.(Photo by Tomas Krist/isifa/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) - There's an easy way to give pop music's most performance-hardened stars a case of the butterflies: Ask them to perform in front of The Beatles.
Many of today's top artists gathered Monday night to honor The Beatles' legacy, with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in attendance and late members John Lennon and George Harrison always in mind, at The Recording Academy's taping of "The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles."
John Legend and Alicia Keys sang "Let It Be." Katy Perry performed "Yesterday," while her boyfriend, John Mayer, teamed with Keith Urban on "Don't Let Me Down." And Brad Paisley and Pharrell Williams took on the challenge of "Here Comes the Sun," a song well-known to millions of music fans.
"We are honoring the most important band of all time, and trying to do justice to their song while two of them sit there," Paisley said in an interview before his performance. "We know, going in, we're not going to sing like them, and we're going to try to do our own thing with it. But ... there's reasons why people get blasted when they cover Beatles songs in any situation. But here we are, we're all doing that tonight. So, I guess it's an even playing field in that sense."
It was until McCartney and Starr took the stage, turning what had been a fairly sedate affair into an arm-in-arm sing-a-long of hits "Hey, Jude," ''Sgt. Pepper" and "Yellow Submarine" that prompted movie stars and Grammy Award-winning musicians alike to sing along like giddy kids.
The telecast will air Feb. 9, 50 years after The Fab Four made their first appearance in front of an American television audience on "The Ed Sullivan Show." It was a historic moment with more than 73 million Americans tuning in, changing pop culture in profound ways.
Even so, McCartney told the crowd he was hesitant to agree to commemorate it.
"What can I say about this evening, it's just amazing," he said. "At first when I was asked to do the show, I was wondering if it was the right thing to do. Was it seemly to tribute yourself? But I saw a couple of American guys who said to me, 'You don't understand the impact of that appearance on the show on America.' I didn't realize that."
Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich said the tribute event was more than a decade in the making and was produced at the Los Angeles Convention Center with archival footage from the band's "Ed Sullivan" era as well as their psychedelic and hirsute, hipster periods.
Maroon 5 kicked off the show by re-creating the opening moments of the Feb. 9, 1964, appearance with "All My Loving," then "Ticket to Ride." Keys and Legend faced each other as they sat at matching black baby grand pianos. Mayer and Urban traded guitar licks, as did Gary Clarke Jr. and Joe Walsh on "As My Guitar Gently Weeps." Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics reunited to play "The Fool on the Hill."
Dave Grohl and Jeff Lynne hammered deep cut "Hey, Bulldog," and Harrison's son Dhani joined Lynne and Joe Walsh on his father's classic "Something." Stevie Wonder performed "We Can Work It Out" twice, asking for a retake after a slow start on his first attempt.
"Fire me, sue me," he joked with the crowd.
Starr took the stage next and marveled at Wonder's appearance: "I've got to tell you, what a thrill following Stevie Wonder."
The drummer performed three songs alone, including "Yellow Submarine" at the request of Grohl's young daughter. McCartney took the stage next for five songs of his own before Starr returned for a finale that included a group sing-a-long of "Hey, Jude." It was the first time the two had performed together since 2010.
"We were in a band. It's called The Beatles," Starr said near the end of the show. "And if we play, John and George are always with us. It's always John, Paul, George and Ringo."