Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Special Memories and Artist Testimonials

The Ed Sullivan Show generated some VERY special memories for some of its guests ...

Hey Kent,  
We were fortunate enough to have Mr. Sullivan present us with one of our gold albums in 1968.  It was a great honor to meet him and be on his, “Really Big Shew”.   We did his show several times and he treated us with great respect.

Shown in the picture L to R are:  Jim Pike, Ed Sullivan, Tony Butala and Gary Pike. 
Lettermen / Reunion,  Gary Pike

The Ed Sullivan Show was the  #1 prime time show of its day.  
Ed announced the birth of our oldest daughter Jerri Paige on the show.  Ed Sullivan was a unique host and the shows I performed on are some of my most valuable memories.  
BJ Thomas

Dino, Desi & Billy appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in the summer of 1965.  There were a few things that made it special and historical: (1) it was the very first color broadcast of the show (2) it emanated not from the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York but rather from the CBS studios on Beverly Blvd. and Fairfax in Los Angeles - Mr. Sullivan even wore a tuxedo to mark the occasion.  DD&B performed our hits "I'm a Fool" and "Not the Lovin' Kind" back-to-back before going over to chat with our host.  Desi's mother, Lucille Ball, sat in the studio audience and was flanked by her mother, Dede Ball, and daughter, Lucie Arnaz.
We may not be in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, but DD&B are proud to have been a part of the exclusive club of performers that appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Billy Hinsche / Dino, Desi & Billy
Hi Kent,
I talk about this before I introduce "Susan" at a Buckinghams concert. Back in the 60's the epitome of success was being invited to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was 1968 and "Susan" was our latest hit so we performed "Susan" and what was to be our next single at the time, "What Is Love," a James Guercio produced song. We performed the two songs as a medley starting with "Susan". We got to the psychedelic break in "Susan" when it cut to a video of us running around in various fun situations, then out of the break into "What Is Love." It was actually very cutting edge for the time. 
We were very excited to perform on Ed Sullivan, especially because Elvis, The Beatles and The Stones had been guests on the show. I remember thinking the Ed Sullivan Theatre was a lot smaller than I thought it would be ... on TV it seemed much larger. As a matter of fact, I thought Ed Sullivan would be taller, because he seemed larger than life on TV. The show was taped live, and I remember the week we were supposed to appear and after we told all our friends and family, it didn't happen. They pushed it a week later because of some scheduling problem, so that was a disappointment, but it finally aired. 
Like I said, appearing on Ed Sullivan was as good as it gets back then. We didn't have MTV or VH1, so the best you could hope for was to be invited on one of the great variety shows like The Smothers Brothers, American Bandstand or The Jerry Lewis Show, to name a few of the many we did. But Ed Sullivan was it! That was success! 
Carl Giammarese 
The Buckinghams

We were scheduled to appear on Ed Sullivan but then Bobby Kennedy was assassinated and our appearance was preempted in order to run specials about Bobby Kennedy and  we were never rescheduled. 
Frank Jeckell / The 1910 Fruitgum Company

Our first TV appearance was in Boston with Johnny Mathis in 1959. It was a color broadcast.  Our next TV appearance, I think, was Dick Clark ... and then Ed Sullivan.  
The producers dressed us in Cowboy / Cowgirl outfits because we were from out west. Yes, I'm serious.  We asked them and that was the answer. Then they cut our song short, had a choral group singing behind us off stage and placed our only microphone up and away from us three so I'm not sure I can even hear us on the tape / Kinescope recording.  Our appearance was nothing to be proud of but undoubtedly helped the promotion of Come Softly. 
Gary Troxel / The Fleetwoods 

Like most other musicians / singers I knew in the 60's, I spent Sunday evenings riveted to our family TV for Ed Sullivan's show, hoping the pop music magic would somehow come out through the set and touch my life.  Here are my Ed Sullivan Show Memories, circa 1965:
In 1965 I was playing in an LA trio, doing rock and pop songs in local nightclubs with my friends Bobby Gil and Denny Martin.  Our agent, Bob Leonard, also handled an actress / comedienne named Virginia O'Brien, who had starred in several MGM films primarily during the 1940's.
Ed Sullivan invited O'Brien to appear on his show.  She needed a band and wanted to update her act, so Leonard put her together with us twenty-somethings.  After several rehearsals, we flew to New York for the live show.  I had hardly ever been outside of California.  And New York?  It may as well have been the moon.  I fought back my fear of flying so as not to spoil everything for the others.  I also remember naively assuming that we might do a couple our original songs on the show as well, haha.  But we soon learned that even Virginia's one song had to be shortened.
At the theatre, we met others scheduled for appearances that night:  Among them Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz) and The Dave Clark Five.  Young female fans hung around outside the theatre, screaming at any glimpse of that hit group.
Finally it was air time.  We made it through our rock version of O'Brien's signature "In A Little Spanish Town" with very few mistakes.  I remember looking at the camera lens and imagining the millions of viewers on the other side.  (I think they showed our group for maybe three or four seconds, but I've never been able to get a copy of the video.  Man, I would LOVE to have a copy of that for my own personal library!)
And then suddenly it was over.  And I never would have met Ed Sullivan, except that he was on the same elevator.  Surprisingly small in stature.  I introduced myself and thanked him for the opportunity.
That night everyone partied at a nearby nightclub.  The headlining group there had not really hit it big yet, and they looked up to us for having been on Sullivan.  They were Felix Cavalieri's Young Rascals!  Did we get up on stage?  Fortunately, no.  Had a lot to drink.  Mostly I felt homesick.  I wasn't quite ready for the big time, but now I treasure the experience. 

Alan O'Day 
My band mate then, and still close friend now, Denny Martin now owns and operates a recording studio in Nashville, TN  
We still often work together & write together.  He adds this to the story: 
My memories of the Ed Sullivan Show in November of 1965 are from the standpoint of just turning 21 that October.  Wow, we'd made it to the big time.  Coming from the Nebraska farm to LA in 1962 and already achieving the Show Of Shows was intensely overwhelming.
The hotel was in downtown Manhattan and we were there one week staying with all expenses paid. I remember us all being very poor and being unable to believe that there wasn't going to be a big bill at the end of the week. We had a lot of time on our hands and did a lot of walking the streets of New York.
I remember discovering some Bobby Blue Bland and Sam Cooke records in a record store on 42nd street. I asked a cab driver to take me to Harlem to hear Bobby Blue Bland, and the driver cussing me out saying something like, "Do you want to get us both killed?"  Obviously, looking back, the ghettos were on fire everywhere. The civil rights movement was gaining momentum and the situation was extremely volatile and dangerous. Naive? Beyond belief.
The night of the show my dad and mom and brothers and sisters were glued to the TV in Nebraska to catch a glimpse of our band. I believe the show was filmed in black and white in those years. The name of the venue was the Ed Sullivan Theatre, as I recall. The week went by slowly leading up to the show but the Sunday show was over much too soon.
Then came the nightclub party ... Virginia was friends with Roddy McDowell and Danny Kaye and they joined us that night. I remember we stayed out till the early morning hours and drank an awful lot. I believe I danced with Danny Kaye who was doing his comedian schtick ... I was just having the time of my life.
By the time we went to see the Young Rascals, we were loud, obnoxious and very drunk. Suddenly, the drummer's cymbal came crashing down on the back of my neck off of a very high stage. Luckily it hit my neck and not my skull ... God had other plans for me I guess. Looking back I can't say I blame him if it was intentional ... we were out of control at that point, having been drinking for 4 or 5 hours.
Virginia was not of the rock and roll era and we must have been strange birds to her. But she was always professional and fun and game for our young rock and roll hearts and silliness. It was an awakening in so many ways. 

-- Denny Martin

When I did the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time, I had just received my driver's license and I was more interested in that, like most teenagers would have been! 
It was an honor to be on the show. Mr. Sullivan was quite sympathetic because he knew I was nervous.  Thanks Mr. Ed. 
~ Fabian Forte  
Click here: iTunes - Music Videos - Tiger (Ed Sullivan Show Live 1959) by Fabian