Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Artists' Memories

My first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show was without a doubt one of the most exciting times in my career, as being asked to do his show meant you had either already made it or you were about to become a major star.  He was a wonderful man and he treated me with an abundance of kindness ... and each time I appeared on his show, he would bring me over to him and give information about me to the audience. 
The one thing I remember vividly was he never said my name correctly until one of the cue card writers made it easy for him by spelling my name phonetically ... DE-ON ... and from that moment on, he said my name right.
His show was by far the father of variety shows and these are sorely missed.
Thank you for including my memory of Ed Sullivan and his show.
Dionne Warwick

From the stories we've heard, Ed mispronouncing the names of his guests happened fairly often.
Peter Noone tells us: 
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.
-- Peter Noone 

And, in this short interview clip sent into us by DJ Phil Nee, you'll hear Tommy James tell a similar story:

By all accounts, this was a fairly common occurrence ... several other artists have told similar stories over the years ... making one wonder just how in tune with his guests Sullivan really was.  One thing IS  for certain, however ... he knew that it was his guests that made his show popular and successful ... and, as attested to in the following two remembrances, Ed ALWAYS stood by and defended his guests ... unless of course they had snubbed HIM in some fashion.  

One most telling and defining incidents setting Ed Sullivan apart from any other presenter on TV came about when during my dress rehearsal.  A large number of the people in the audience rushed up on stage and sat around me on the floor.  (This had also happened spontaneously at a Carnegie Hall concert of mine and continued throughout my early career.)  The stage manager ran out and tried to shush them away, back into their seats.  Ed Sullivan himself came up on the stage and told all these “youths” -- as he called them -- that they could stay, as they seemed to be well behaved.  The stage manager left, shaking his head.   
But of course Ed Sullivan was the ultimate showman and knew it added to the essence of what he was introducing to the world, prompting the comment about Elvis.  
And of course at that time, one segment on his show was an introduction to the world and the only step needed to go from obscurity to stardom.  

Hello Kent,
I only did one show with Ed Sullivan in New York City.  I remember it was winter time and I had just stepped out of my dressing room and was waiting for the elevator to arrive to take me down to his theater where we would shoot the show.  As I stood there, waiting for the elevator to arrive, I started doing loud vocal exercises to loosen my throat up a bit.  There was a guard sitting there at a desk and he got really angry with me.  He told me he didn't like my long hair, and he told me if I had been in his military company, he would have my head shaved, and he told me to knock off all of that noise.  I was trying to explain to him that I was just warming up my voice for the show. 
Right at that moment the elevator door opened and there was Ed Sullivan and a couple of producers / directors.  I stepped into the elevator and down we went.  Ed said to me, "What was that all about?"  So I told him what had transpired between me and the guard.  Nothing more was said about it. 
After the shoot, I went back up to my dressing room to get my stuff and there was a different guard on the desk.  I said, "Hey, what happened to the other fella?"  The guy looked up at me and casually said, "Oh, he got fired."  I've always felt bad about that, but at the same time I really admired the Sullivan team for quietly taking care of their guests. That's my story. 
Barry McGuire  
We've all heard the story about how The Doors were never invited back to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show again because lead singer Jim Morrison refused to take the word "higher" out of the lyrics to their #1 Smash Hit "Light My Fire" after promising that he would do so.  
Bob Dylan, scheduled to perform, walked off the set because he was told that he could not perform his song "Talkin' John Birch Society Blues".  Ed reportedly also had a run in with Buddy Holly ... but, in this case, invited him back anyway because the singer was so popular with his audience that Ed's ratings went up when Buddy appeared!  

And here, DJ Wild Bill Cody relates a story about The Byrds' only appearance on The Sullivan Show because of a little blow up between David Crosby and one of Ed's producers:
Roger McGuinn and his wife Camilla are currently in the Netherlands for concerts. Due to other obligations, Roger is unavailable for comments ... however I do know for a fact that when the Byrds performed on December 12, 1965, David Crosby got into a shouting match with the show's director and they were nearly tossed off the show before it aired, and were never asked to return. Alan King and Al Hirt were also on the show that night.
Here are the details ... 
The Byrds were scheduled to perform "Turn, Turn, Turn" in the first half of the show and then perform "Mr Tambourine Man" in the second half of the show. Well, they were told by Ed's director / producer that they would have to cut "Turn" to two minutes (normally a tune timed at close to 3:53) and Crosby came unglued screaming that "it was art man, and we refuse to shorten the song for you or anybody". Ed's director / producer said fine, then you won't appear at all. Roger took the director / producer to the corner of the room and apologized for Crosby and begged to be put back on the show. They were finally allowed to play as promised with a two minute version of "Turn", and "Tambourine Man" went as planned. But the Byrds were NEVER asked back on the Ed Sullivan Show!  
Wild Bill Cody

We all know that The Rolling Stones changed the lyrics of their popular hit "Let's Spend The Night Together" to "Let's Spend Some Time Together" for their Sullivan performance.  (This clip can now be seen on the recently released Complete Rolling Stones Ed Sullivan Appearances DVD ... in fact, you'll see Mick roll his eyes for the camera during the performance of this tune!)  And, as we discussed earlier, even the night that the CBS censors insisted that Elvis Presley be filmed only from the waist up, Ed came to the defense of this hot new star, telling the audience that Elvis was "a real decent, fine boy." 

Add some Ed Sullivan videos to YOUR collection!
Here are a few iTunes links featuring performances by some of today's mentioned artists: