Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More Memories From The Couch ... Or Would That Be SOFA???

Here are just some of the responses we've received from our readers, enjoying our very special Tribute To The Ed Sullivan Show:

>>>ol' Stoneface brought nothing but musical mega-talent into our living rooms  (kk) 
Believe me, it wasn't Ol Stoneface ... 
It was the brilliant talent buyer whose name escapes me. 
Al Kooper  
Perhaps his son-in-law, Bob Precht???  I've heard that he was VERY instrumental in booking the hottest talent at the time.   Andrew Solt offered major kudos to Bob's contribution to the show ... sounds like he's been kind of an "unsung hero" up to this point in the whole scheme of things!  (kk)  

I am only an Oldies music fan, and just wanted to share my Ed Sullivan Show Memories. 
Some of my fondest memories as a young 50's teen are those watching Ed's Sunday night show.  I bought my first Elvis album when it came out and until that time, only got to look at him on the cover and in magazines.  One of my biggest thrills was when Elvis was a guest on the Sullivan Show, and I got to see him on our small black and  white TV.  After Elvis was on, I don't think I ever missed another show.   To me Elvis was simply bigger than life - when I saw him there, he became more of a 'real' person.     :-) . 
My regular Sunday evenings were to make certain I was watching TV, if not by 6:30 p.m., at least by 6:52 - I watched Ozzie and Harriet mainly to see Ricky; and if not the entire show, at least the last few minutes when he sang! Loved that!   My Sunday evening routine was to watch Ricky then watch the entire hour of the Sullivan Show.  It was so exciting for me to see the young, upcoming singers and other entertainers. 
Ed probably had no idea in the beginning that his hour-long Sunday evening program would be continued so many years (1955-1971).  I hope before he died that he realized the great gift he provided us all those years. 
I think he should certainly be in one of the Halls of Fame! 
I got the Sullivan Shows DVD Set last year as a gift- and have enjoyed it so much.  
Love watching - it takes me back to those good times. 
Jennie Carpenter

If I missed it I’m sorry… Anyone have a video of the infamous “Elvis” appearance on Sullivan?  
You can buy the ENTIRE history of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show on DVD ... EVERY appearance he ever made!  (kk)

And here's how ... and where!!!

Dear Kent,
I'm delighted to see that the floodgates to the riches of the Sullivan archive seem to be opening after years of excellent, but only occasional, scatter-shot releases.  I know that negotiating rights (publishing, royalties, et al) to release physical product can be a nightmare, but with the Beatles and the Stones behind him, hopefully Andrew will have an easier time mining the further riches to come.
By the way, the documentary that you referenced, "Heroes of Rock & Roll," that Solt produced and Malcolm Leo directed in '79 should be sought out by anyone who's a regular visitor to Forgotten Hits.  It truly was the first doc of its kind to not trivialize the idiom with inane analysis.  They truly let the music within speak for, and exalt, itself.  I was fortunate to see it for the first time in a theater at an industry screening in '79, and I remember being pinned back in my seat by the opening chords of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe in Magic" -- the perfect opener in sentiment and sound-- and the remaining two hours were an equal wonder.
15 years earlier, I can remember watching the Huntley-Brinkley on a Friday night when Davis Brinkley, in that sardonic, southern drawl of his said, "Head for the hills ... the Beatles are coming."  A few seconds of footage of teenage pandemonium followed before the classic "Goodnight, Chet," "Goodnight, David" sign-off closed the show, and I was hooked.  As Huntley-Brinkley were NBC, they weren't about to plug Sullivan on CBS, but I asked my mom, "What are the Beatles?"  She explained to me that they were an English Rock & Roll band that teenagers -- especially girls -- were going crazy over.  Well, I needed to see them, too, and like almost every other kid in America, I was seated about a foot in front of the TV screen on Sunday night.
Like so many others, that was a pivotal moment in my life that, no doubt, ultimately pointed me toward a career in entertainment.  Interestingly, a decade or so after that first Sullivan appearance, I had moved to L.A. in search of that initial lucky break.  While walking down Sunset Boulevard one day, I picked up a flier touting "the Hollywood School of Broadcasting," or something similarly named.  As they all but guaranteed job placement at the conclusion of the course, I called and signed up for the free introductory seminar. 
I showed up at the not-so-glamorous office the next week, and after a typical sales pitch, they sent us attendees off to a tiny recording booth to assess "our potential."  The older gentleman who was working with me introduced himself as Art Hannes.  He looked like he'd been through the mill a bit in life, but he had a set of pipes on him that were magnificent-- one of those classic broadcast voices reminiscent of the great broadcaster / narrators of the '40s and '50s.  I asked him what his background was, and he told me that he was the announcer on a lot of early TV shows, including "Ed Sullivan," from its "Toast of the Town" days until the mid-'60s.
Well, I was enthralled by this pedigree, and I peppered Art with questions -- especially about those famous Elvis appearances and, of course, the Beatles' debut -- until he said we had to get back to work.  He gave me some test copy, had me write some, too, and then recorded me reading it.  When I finished, he was very gracious and complimentary and, even at that naive age, I figured he was buttering me up for a sale.  The tuition was a thousand dollars or so -- a fortune to an unemployed kid whose total nest egg for his remaining three-month test run in L.A. was about $700.  But Art said not to worry about that and told me to come back the following week, and to tell them at the door that he had cleared it.
A week later, I was grilling Art again about his career and the Sullivan years and even suggested that he write a book about them.  He was certain that no one would be interested, but I pointed out that I was, and he said he'd give it some thought.  Then he took me back to the studio and had me record multiple :30 and :60 second pieces of copy, often interjecting his seasoned advice.  When I had about nine or ten of these done to his satisfaction, he put them on a cassette and handed it to me.  He said, "You're a nice young man.  You have a good voice and a way with words.  You don't need broadcasting school.  In fact, no one in this business ever made it because they went to a broadcasting school.  Just use this tape when you're looking for a job until you get some experience and can make a better one."  Art shook my hand and showed me to the door.
A few months later I landed my first professional job with Casey Kasem -- another guy with a pretty good set of pipes.  As I went to work at "American Top 40" as a writer / producer, that tape that Art graciously helped me make wasn't key, but his kindness and encouragement were and, obviously, I've never forgotten him.  A few years later, when I was doing some on-air work myself, I tried to find him to thank him and show him that his belief in me was somewhat justified.  But the broadcasting school was closed and I never heard anything about Art Hannes again.  Despite the fact that we only had two brief encounters, I've always considered him to be one of my early mentors, and one of the true gentlemen of the business.
As always, Kent, thanks for the great work and entertaining forum.
Scott Paton

And then this ... after a piece submitted by FH Reader Gary Theroux recently ran on our site ... 
One of the things I've loved most about Forgotten Hits in the year since I discovered it is the way so many individuals' unique stories somehow dovetail to make up a more complete historical mosaic.  The best example of this yet for me, personally, just happened today.  Not 48 hours after I wrote to tell you about Art Hannes -- Ed Sullivan's original announcer -- and the kind and helpful impact he had on my career, there was Gary Theroux's affectionate account of the man.  While saddened to learn that he spent the last decade of his life in poor health, I was very pleased that Gary shared a fuller bio of his many accomplishments, as well as the photo that pictures Art just as I remember him.
Thanks for providing the forum that allows these wonderful little moments of Kismet to happen.
Scott Paton

>>>In my view, the main thing that killed the Ed Sullivan Show was prosperity. When most families could afford only one television, the Sullivan show was something that actually brought families together ... he very astutely included, as you say, "something for the kids" as well as something for grandma and Mom and Pop, too.  My guess is that hardly anyone liked ALL the segments of a particular show, but there was at least something there, every week, for someone.  Then came prosperity, which meant that the kids and the adults could watch separate televisions, and (later) cable, which could devote an entire channel to rock music.  By the 1970s, the "omnibus" aspect of the Sullivan show was outdated.  I think the cultural fracturing of America is an interesting phenomenon, abetted in part because there eventually was no need to "all get together" to listen to a radio program or watch a TV show.  The rise of multiple-TV households (and especially the later explosion of channels on cable) gave a boost to the individual freedom to watch what you wanted -- but it came at the expense of a shared cultural understanding.  (Henry McNulty)

Hey Kent:
The reason Ed Sullivan got axed in ’71 is the same reason a lot of classic shows and others got the shaft in ’71. It’s the first year real demographics are used for television. They started screening out many shows that were geared, or popular, with older viewers and tried to replace them with shows that fit their demographic model. It’s the beginning of the end for that era of TV. The first  “cleansing” was in ’66 when they gave the axe to all Black and White shows. Then in ’71, when you lose the classic comedies like “The Beverly Hillbillies” and replace them with the new style “All In The Family”. Instead of the Dad being the lovable head of the family, they turn the hard working (mostly) white WW2  veteran in to an ignorant, bumbling racist oaf. You lose “Hogan’s Heroes” &  get “MASH”. So instead of making fun of Nazi’s you get them making fun of the US Army and sympathy for the Chinese Communists.  Whether it was for better or worse,  people can make that judgment. I personally feel we really lost what made TV great in that era. It happened to Radio too, and by the early to mid 70’s, it’s really just a shell of what it used to be. That’s what demographics and focus groups did to that part of the culture.  

Hope you're doing well, Kent.
I'm really enjoying your interview with Andrew Solt.  I hope he completely opens up the vaults for the Sullivan show - and that's why I'm writing.
Sullivan featured The Remains on his show, and it was a MONSTER performance of a never recorded song.  As obscure as The Remains are, they at least opened for The Beatles tour, and recorded for a major label.  But Sullivan also featured a true "garage band" named The Black Sheep.  Nothing is known about the group so the obvious question is: How the Hell did they land an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show!?  They even performed a cover of 'Slow Down' so it's not as if they were pushing an original song.
Do you think you could run this by Solt to see if he has any info on The Black Sheep, such as their home town? I know Sullivan featured forgotten non-musical acts, but as we know it's not as if he frequently went the Ted Mack route and touted unknown rock groups.
Talk about FORGOTTEN! Hopefully you're as curious as I am to learn more about The Black Sheep.
Mike Dugo

I put your query to Andrew and Josh Solt to see what information they could add to the puzzle.  (They have an extensive listing of EVERY act ever to appear on Ed's program.)  Here's what they told me:

The Black Sheep appeared on 8/21/66.  It looks like they were inserted into a repeat only ... and never appeared on an original show.  

Their names are Dean Allison, Jack Kriendler, John Reinus, John Swarts and Lee Goldsmith.
They sang a song called “Slow Down” by Larry Williams that The Beatles covered in 1964. 

Ed introduces them as coming from NY, and said that one of their fathers is Bob Kriendler of “21.”

Josh Solt
SOFA Entertainment

Honestly, I was a little surprised by this ... since the show was aired "live", it seemed unlikely to me that much in the way of outtakes or additional archived footage would exist ... but, according to Josh, it wasn't all that uncommon for a new act to be "spliced in" during a summer rerun ... read on:
Quite often they would replace certain acts when rerunning an episode in the summer.  As far as your other question, as far as I know they aired everything that they shot.  Hope this helps!