I grew up on West 68th St in what at the time was a brand new building called the Dorchester Towers.
Since it was centrally located, a number of entertainment folk lived there. Jackie Wilson, Terry Knight (manager of Grand Funk Railroad) Sidney Poitier, newscaster Gabe Pressman and drummer Don Lamond.
Don was a well known drummer who had played with Woody Herman, Stan Getz, and Charlie Parker. He lived a few floors above me and he took a fatherly interest in me. At this point in his life he was house drummer for the Les Crane show. I used to cut class and go with Don to the ABC studios which were 3 blocks away and sit by his side while he filmed the show. It was a great experience getting to see the filming of a live TV show. It was so obvious what I was going to do with my life! One time when I was there Bob Dylan was on the show.
The Dick Cavett Show was also filmed in my neighborhood. There was a TV studio right across the street from my school and it was used for taping the Cavett Show. There was never a problem getting in so I would leave school and watch the show. His shows were very favorable to rock music. In an interview with Jimi Hendrix, Dick spoke to him about his performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, and, when speaking comically to any of Hendrix’s enemies, called the song “unorthodox”. Jimi commented that the song was “not unorthodox” and that what he played was beautiful. The audience clapped, and Dick blushed. This was recorded September 9, 1969. Jimi Hendrix
In the mornings before school, I would sometimes sit in our lobby and wait for my sister to go to school. She went to PCS (Professional Children’s School) and one of her friend’s in the building went there as well. I must confess, when she was about 14, I had a crush on Carol Kane.
She lived on the 3rd floor and we lived on the 10th.
Another early variety show, filmed in Philadelphia, that included musical acts was the Mike Douglas Show who was a former big band singer. The show featured acts included Herman’s Hermits, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Every Mother’s Son (a band that included my future dentist Bruce Milner!), Come On Down To My Boat The Rolling Stones and many others. The show started in 1961 and was broadcast live until 1965 when Zsa Zsa Gabor called Morey Amsterdam a “son of a bitch!” My have times changed! I couldn’t find that clip so here is a clip from one of my favorite West Coast bands Moby Grape
In April of 1964 the darkened studios of the old Channel 13, located in the upper floors of the Mosque Theater in Newark New Jersey, came alive as the brand new WNJU-TV Channel-47. One of my favorite shows was Zacherley’s Disco Teen, which aired daily at 5 PM on this Newark, N.J., UHF station. I couldn’t wait to see the show. I knew that when the show ended, dinner would be servedThe show was a “sort of Transylvanian Bandstand.” The show featured dancers like American Bandstandand local bands and performers. The big difference between Zach and Dick Clark was that the Cool Ghoul emceed the show in costume. He looked like Dracula and performed his crazy routines and experiments, sometimes using the kids from the audience as straight men. He has said that they were three of the happiest years of his life!. The show was popular but frustrating because in the early days of UHF TV, reception could be poor. It didn’t matter to me. There was 60 minutes of music and gags and he would have bands on some of the shows including the Doors, the Critters, and in this clip, Alex Chilton and the Box Tops. Sadly, the show ended in 1967.Disc-O-Teen
Do you remember the Lloyd Thaxton Show? It was the highest rated musical show in the country for eight years. Lloyd was one of the founders of Tiger Beat magazine!
The Lloyd Thaxton Show I was turned on to Arthur Lee and Love’s “Little Red Book” through this show.Little Red Book It is still one of my favorite songs of all time written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the movie What’s New Pussycat? It was originally recorded by Manfred Mann.
Dick Clark’s legendary musical series, “American Bandstand” was originally aired on Monday-Friday. Then, in 1965 after two years on the air, it moved to just one show weekly on Saturday afternoons. Dick decided to develop a “spin-off series” titled “Where the Action Is” in order to fill the weekday after school pop music void left by American Bandstand’s time change. I used to come home from school and watch this or the Soupy Sales Show. It made Paul Revere and the Raiders superstars! I found that watching TV and practicing my bass went hand in hand! In 1966 a very strange occurence hapened on the show, a very subdued Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band appeared. At approximately 6:50 on this clip is a bit of that show. Where the Action Is was cancelled, the story didn’t end there! Paul Revere and the Raiders had become a superstar group and had several hit records through the early 1970s! Together, Paul Revere and lead vocalist Paul Lindsay hosted a Saturday afternoon series nearly identical to Where the Action Is titled, “Happening ’68″ and another weekday series from 1968-1969 titled, “It’s Happening”, from 1968 to 1969. Again, both of those shows were also produced by Dick Clark and aired on ABC.
“New York was home to The Ed Sullivan Show and The Clay Cole Show and when we first came to America, we were told we must do Clay Cole and Ed Sullivan,” said Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits. “Trouble is, we didn’t know which was which.”
The Clay Cole Show was one of the best music shows on WPIX channel 11 in NYC! It was very successful, thanks to first-time guest appearances of the Rolling Stones on a program with one other group, the Beatles, Neil Diamond, Dionne Warwick, Simon & Garfunkel, Richie Havens, Tony Orlando, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Lovin’ Spoonful, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, the Young Rascals and many others. In the mid-Sixties, the Clay Cole Show became the first stop for the British Bands; the Moody Blues, Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Dave Clark 5, Yardbirds, Animals, Who, Doors, and Herman’s Hermits were among the many groups who stopped by. Clay Cole presents The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones’” pulled the highest rating in our history ( “the ratings went through the roof,” reported Variety ) — prompting Ch 11 to repeat the hour on three different nights, with equally high numbers. In 1968 he left the show and in a cost cutting measure, WPIX erased all of the shows tapes! What a shame. The only tape that exists, without audio is from a 1958 WJAR-TV broadcast from Providence.
Shindig filmed in LA aired on ABC TV from 1964-1966. A DJ named Jimmy O’Neil created and hosted the show. It started as a 1/2 hour show and in 1965 was expanded to a full hour. The first show featured The Beatles and the list of stars is voluminous!. The “house band” was chock full of incredible musicians: Glen Campbell, Delaney Bramlett, Billy Preston, James Burton and Leon Russell and the assistant choreographer was Antonia Basilotta aka Toni Basil! Shindig made an appearance on a 1965 episode of The Flintstones as “Shinrock!” with host “Jimmy O’Neillstone”. The episode featured musical guests The Beau Brummels, appearing as “The Beau Brummelstones,” who performed their hit song Laugh Laugh. In January of 1966 the show was cancelled to make room for Batman!
As I said last week, music was everywhere on TV. When I wasn’t listening to music on my stereo, practicing my bass, or listening to my parents fighting I would spend my time in front of the TV looking for anything with a band.
I want to personally thank everyone who has visited, commented and given a thumbs up to this blog! This is the 4th week and I am enjoying sharing all of this with all of you.
I also want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and speaking of Thanksgiving, on the night before at 10 PM EST, the History Channel is doing an hour long special on the Beatles and on Thanksgiving night on ABC will be the broadcast of Paul McCartney at Citi Field. So get your DVR’s ready!