Friday, November 18, 2011

A Few More Memories From A Few More Artists ...

Just between you and me, I seriously do the BEST Ed Sullivan impersonation in America!
I'm serious ... I have done it for Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits and many others.
Wild Bill 

Speaking of Herman's Hermits ... 

Ed Sullivan was a gentleman.
He invited me to meet him at DelMonico (his apartment building in New York City) to go to mass with him on Sunday.  After that he introduced me as Peter (Herman) Moon, because we had become sort of close, but not so close as to remember my actual name ... so I called him Mister Sulligan and he laughed because he was a gentleman.
Herman's Hermits was the perfect Sullivan act, although we only agreed to do the show for big money because we thought we were very valuable (our agent did anyway), but when I heard that we would meet the 4 Seasons, I agreed to do the tv show for low money so I could meet them.  In the dressing room they were close to a fist fight over which jacket they were going to wear (Frankie won, of course) ... and when I told this to the Hermits, we laughed because we only had one stage jacket each!
Of all the people who had shows, Ed was the only one who just introduced the act and didn't try to dance, sing or joke around with the act.  Since him, they all try to get "in" on the act, which is why so few variety shows last. I have noticed that successful variety shows like American Idol are the ones where the leads of the show don't try to sing or dance with the acts.
We did Ed's show a few times (not sure of the actual number) and I am always proud to have been treated specially by this man, as I think he knew I was a gent, too?
This does not exempt me from swearing at you, kk, or threatening to box you for money, if you say anything I don't like.
Hope you get lots of good input on this lovely man who was there when he was needed. 
Can we get someone like Ed on the tv again soon?  Someone who presents the acts doing what they do best without any interference?-- Peter Noone 

Check out Herman's Hermits on iTunes ... three great Sullivan performances are available including the chart-toppers "I'm Henry the VIII, I Am" and "Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter" ... as well as one of MY personal favorites "Just A Little Bit Better".  
Click here: iTunes - Music Videos - Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter (Ed Sullivan Show Live 1965) by Herman's Hermits 

The Ed Sullivan Show was Mecca for all of us who wanted to be the Beatles back in the sixties.  
The other big shows were wonderful - no disputing that. The Hollywood Palace and the Smothers Brothers, Mike Douglas and even Johnny Carson never meant what it did to get the invitation to perform in New York City on live television, 8 pm on Sunday nights.  
That was instant validation. My parents, who hated the idea of my leaving college to pursue a career in the risky world of rock and roll, were at last legitimized in the eyes of their peers. The trip to Hawaii and the color tv meant nothing compared to this kind of success. 
We were all nervous beyond belief before our first Sullivan show. But it sounded great and it was the most fun ever! Rehearsals all week: no other show did that. Staying at the Plaza Hotel to the surprise of other legitimate guests, who quickly changed their attitudes when they learned that we were there to appear with Ed.  
Mr. Sullivan himself only saw us during the actual show and we handed him a huge paper flower as he thanked us for Happy Together on that first program. Now we had made it. We were elite now. All the big bands did the Sullivan Show and our performances are still to be seen on DVD and during those ubiquitous PBS pledge drives, so our times with Ed have been immortalized and will outlive us. And that's all any of us wanted to do - Ed helped us live the dream and now, we're alive forever. Thanks, Mr. Sullivan.  
Howard Kaylan / The Turtles 

From what we've been told, an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show involved quite a hefty commitment.  The artist would be flown out to New York City and put up in a nice hotel a week before showtime.  And then they would rehearse EVERY DAY for six days before going live on the air.  (This included a full dress rehearsal on Saturday before a live  studio audience!) 
The program was precision-timed ... but even at that, MOST acts had their songs cut in length ... pretty amazing in hindsight in that this was the era of 2-3 minutes songs!  A few performed live ... most played or sang along with a pre-taped backing track (typically a live vocal ... and sometimes on top of a pre-recorded vocal, giving the song a little "enhancement" on TV) ... and some flat-out lip-synced.  In most cases, the pre-recorded tapes were edited from the actual hit recording ... and, in many cases, if the song faded out on the record, The Ed Sullivan Orchestra would be brought it to hit a closing note crescendo for the television performance. 
Some artists have described the one-week rehearsals as much like "boot camp" ... other television shows didn't require this ... but Ed wanted HIS show planned perfectly to the minute.  Being live TV, sometimes things still went wrong ... shows occasionally ran long and an artist might get bumped to the following week ... but, by and large, the program aired as a well-oiled machine. 

Here's a short clip of Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals describing their appearance on Ed's program: