Talking by video link at the Grammy Awards Sunday, where the Beatles were given a President's Award, McCartney said, "We didn't know what to expect on that first visit -- we didn't expect the craziness that was there."
Said Starr: "We had no idea what the Ed Sullivan Show meant. We didn't know how huge it was."
The show was seen live by so many staying at home to watch it that the crime rate apparently fell to its lowest in 50 years.
The special Grammy award coincides with the release of a DVD of footage shot by documentary makers Albert and David Maysles at the time.