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Stockbridge native Kenny Aronoff, right, is pictured with Ringo Starr, center, and drummer Jim Keitner during last week’s taping of The Beatles tribute show.

STOCKBRIDGE -- Fifty years ago today, Kenny Aronoff and his twin brother, Jonathan, sat in front of their television set and watched history unfold as The Beatles made their television debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Tonight, television viewers will watch Aronoff become part of that history: The drummer from Stockbridge is among the musicians performing with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr during a television special "The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles."

"It's kind of a dream come true for him," said Jonathan Aronoff, Kenny's brother. "Just to be on the same stage with those guys is amazing for a guy from Stockbridge."

Jonathan Aronoff, a renowned psychiatrist who remains in Stockbridge, said his brother was thrilled about the experience last Monday, when the program was taped.

"He texted me the other day and said, ‘You won't believe who I'm standing with: Ringo Starr!' He was excited."

And that's saying something: Aronoff has made a career playing drums for stars like Elton John, Bob Seeger and John Cougar Mellencamp, among others.

In tonight's show, he will be among a roster of musicians that includes Peter Frampton, John Mayer and Keith Urban, Maroon 5, Alicia Keys and John Legend, Gary Clark Jr., Joe Walsh and Dave Grohl, Stevie Wonder and many others. These musicians will perform Beatles songs to warm up the crowd before Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr appear.

On the show, Starr will perform "Match Box," "Boys" and "Yellow Submarine." McCartney will perform "Magical Mystery Tour," "Get Back," "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," all of which are staples of the live show McCartney has done for several years when he's been out on tour.

The two will duet on "With A Little Help From My Friends" and the finale, "Hey Jude," which will feature all the performers on stage.

McCartney and Starr are the remaining living Beatles. John Lennon was assassinated in 1980, and George Harrison died of cancer in 2001.

Aronoff hasn't released specific details about his part in the show, but on his Facebook page he revealed that he "just rehearsed with Ringo Starr and then Stevie Wonder. Now watching Paul McCartney's band rehearse with Ringo Starr playing drums on ‘Hey Jude' for tonight's show."

He revealed in an earlier Facebook post that he will be playing a total of nine songs with various artists tonight.

Jon Aronoff recalled in an earlier interview with The Eagle that, as 11-year-olds in 1964, the Beatles were pivotal in the lives of he and his brother.

"We had never seen a band so self-contained," he said. "Just four guys. Right then, we knew we could form a band."

And they did, according to Kenny.

"A week after I saw ‘A Hard Days Night,' I went out and started a band," he told the Indianapolis Star last week.

The Beatles performed five songs in the 1964 performance: "All My Loving," "Till There Was You" and "She Loves You" in the opening segment of the program.

Three other acts, singers Georgia Brown and Oliver Kidds, impressionist Frank Gorshin and cockney actress/ entertainer Tessie O'Shea then performed.

Following that trio, the Beatles returned and performed "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand."

There were only 728 people in Studio 50 that night, now known as the theater in which the David Letterman Show is taped, but a total of 73,700,000 people in 23,240,000 homes watched the show, according to TV Guide Magazine.

Starr, in an interview years later, recalled the band rehearsing songs all afternoon without Harrison, who had the flu. The Beatles then-road manager, Neil Aspinall, filled in for Harrison. That was frustrating enough. But in addition, Starr believed the sound was poor.

"It's bad on television now," he said in the interview, "but back then, it was really bad."

The crowd was so animated that night that Sullivan, according to his biography, ordered one camera to pan the crowd exclusively. It was the first camera dedicated solely to the "crowd shot" in television history.

To reach Derek Gentile:
dgentile@berkshireeagle.com,
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On Twitter: @DerekGentile