Saturday, November 19, 2011

Some Of Our Favorite Clips

Here are some INCREDIBLE clips from the Ed Sullivan Show YouTube Channel ... just a taste of what you can expect to find there:

LOTS more here:

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: 


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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dancin' The Night Away ... On The Ed Sullivan Show!

Thought you and your Forgotten Hits readers would enjoy something I wrote for the Hartford Courant, which was published on Sunday, October 23.  

Fifty years ago last week, pop singer Chubby Checker stepped in front of the cameras on The Ed Sullivan Show and sang his Number One record of the previous year, “The Twist.”
It was a seminal moment in the history of American popular culture.  For the first time, the vast Ed Sullivan audience, including tens of millions of American adults, got to hear – and see – what their children had been talking about for months: the twist, the dance craze that was sweeping young America, in which the partners didn’t even touch each other.
Other 20th century dance fads, the Charleston and the jitterbug among them, had involved a bit of separate gyration as well as hand-holding.  But the twist took it a step further: There was no touching at all.  Each partner, to the driving beat of the music, individually moved the hands as if using a towel to dry one’s bottom, while simultaneously moving the feet as if to stub out a cigarette.  No lessons were required.  It was a sensation.
By the time of the Sullivan show, “The Twist” was already familiar to teenagers.  First cut in 1959 as the B-side of “Teardrops on Your Letter,” a low-selling Hank Ballard record, it was reborn in 1960 when redone by Chubby Checker.  Thanks in part to Checker’s multiple appearances on TV’s American Bandstand, the song – essentially a simple 12-bar blues – climbed to the top spot on the Billboard magazine pop records chart.  That set adolescents to dancing, but the phenomenon was pretty much ignored by most adults, who didn’t care about American Bandstand  or its collection of twisting teens.
New York’s glitterati, however, did take note.  When gossip columnists reported that members of the jet set were seen twisting at a small (capacity 178), hitherto little-known bar on Manhattan’s West 45th Street called the Peppermint Lounge, extra security personnel were needed to handle the crowds.  Everyone, so it seemed, wanted to twist there: Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Judy Garlard and many more were all out twisting on the minuscule dance floor.  The club’s house band, Joey Dee and the Starliters, recorded “The Peppermint Twist” in honor of their place of employment, and soon it, too, topped the Billboard chart.
Ed Sullivan, himself a New Yorker, knew a hot trend when he saw one, and booked Chubby Checker for his Oct. 22, 1961 show.  That led to a re-release of his version of “The Twist,” which proceeded to climb to No. 1 again – so far, the only time a record hit the top Billboard spot twice in different chart runs. 
Then there was no stopping the craze.  In 1962, at least two dozen pop records with “Twist” in the title made the charts, including “Twist and Shout” by the Isley Brothers, “Dear Lady Twist” by Gary “U. S.” Bonds, “Twistin’ the Night Away” by Sam Cooke, and “Twistin’ All Night Long” by Danny and the Juniors.  Cuban bandleader Perez Prado recorded a pepped-up version of his 1958 worldwide hit “Patricia,” renamed it “Patricia Twist,” and had another hit.  Chubby Checker himself kept returning to the airwaves with the likes of “Let’s Twist Again,” “La Paloma Twist,” and “Slow Twistin’.”   
Even songs that had little to do with the twist mentioned the fad. “Sherry,” the Four Seasons’ massive 1962 hit, urged “”Why don’t you come out to my twist party?”  The novelty tune “Monster Mash” included a reference to “the Transylvania twist.”  When Bobby Darin redid the 1926 song “Baby Face” in 1962, he shouted “Aw, let’s twist a while!” at the instrumental break.
First lady Jacqueline Kennedy threw a twist party in Washington, complete with a recreation of the Peppermint Lounge.  Dignified British actress Dame Margaret Rutherford, playing Miss Marple in the Agatha Christie movie “Murder at the Gallop,” twisted at a high society party in the film.   In England, the Beatles – still more than a year away from being known in America – routinely closed stage shows with their remake of the Isleys’ “Twist and Shout.”   Life magazine reported that in one week in New York, 49 cases of back trouble were attributed to “too much twisting.”
Hollywood, of course, jumped on the bandwagon.  “Hey, Let’s Twist,” “Twist Around the Clock,” and “Don’t Knock the Twist” were just a few of the twist-themed potboilers hastily filmed to cash in on the fad while it lasted.  And at high schools and colleges throughout the land, there was only one fast dance to do. 
As was sure to happen, the twist generated dozens of other no-touch dances: the mashed potato, the pony, the monkey, the hully gully, the swim, the watusi, and many more.  Each had its moment in the sun, but none came close to matching the popularity of the twist.  
But by 1963, the twist itself was all but dead; at dances, teens had moved on to the jerk, the hitchhike, the fly, and others, making the twist seem hopelessly old-fashioned.  Chubby Checker tried one last time, with “Twist It Up” in the summer of 1963, but he sounded half-hearted.   It was only the unstoppable juggernaut of the British Invasion that propelled the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” up the American charts in 1964.
In the fall of 1961, however, it was a different story.  “Everybody twist!” shouted Danny and the Juniors in 1960’s “Twistin’ USA.”  And for a while, it seemed that everybody did. 
PS -- I'm well aware that with something like a pop phenomenon, it's often difficult to find a genuine "anniversary" date.  One could trace the roots of the twist back several decades, or one could choose the release date of Hank Ballard's original, or the day Chubby Checker's version first hit #1 nationally.  All are legitimate "anniversary" dates.   I chose the Sullivan show as the moment when the fad truly exploded. 
-- Henry McNulty
Without question, Chubby Checker's appearance on the program relit the fuse for "The Twist" ... and, as you said, vaulted it back to the top of the pop charts ... still the ONLY record to do so during the rock and roll era.

But The Twist wasn't the ONLY dance craze explored on The Ed Sullivan Show ... I mean, who could ever forget The Sulli-Gully?!?!?

And, just in case you forgot a few of the steps ... 

Another great dance step that totally cracked us up was "The Freddie" as performed by Freddie and the Dreamers!  (It didn't amount to much more than jumping jacks, which we all had to do in gym class every day back then anyway!!!)  But somehow Freddie Garrity made it all seem new and exciting again!

Click here: iTunes - Music Videos - I'm Telling You Now (Ed Sullivan Show Live 1965) by Freddie & The Dreamers

(You'll also find Freddie and the Dreamers performing "Do The Freddie" on the 12-DVD Set "Ed Sullivan's Rock And Roll Classics".)

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:


Monday, November 14, 2011

And, Beginning Today ... Memories From The OTHER Side Of The Screen!

That's right ... we've heard back from a number of artists who got to plant their feet on the stage of The Ed Sullivan Theater back in the day. 

First up ... one of our early rockers, Charlie Gracie ... who remembers HIS appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show EXCLUSIVELY for Forgotten Hits:
1957 was a VERY memorable year for me ... 

I had been recording since late 1951, just shy of my 16th birthday (on the Cadillac and 20th Century / Gotham labels) and had gained loads of experience playing before audiences in clubs, theaters and even "strip joints" in and around the Philadelphia region.  By late 1956, I was ready for my "shot" when it came. Bernie Lowe, owner and president of the newly formed Cameo Label (later Cameo - Parkway) in Philly, signed me to a contract.  He previously knew my work from the many appearances I did as a kid on the Paul Whiteman tv / radio shows. 

Lowe was the pianist and arranger for the Whiteman Orchestra. I had been playing what came to be known as rock & roll for many years -- influenced by the likes of Louis Jordan, Joe Turner and even Bill Haley.

On December 30th, I went into the Reco-Art studio in downtown Philly to record 'BUTTERFLY' and 'NINETY-NINE WAYS.' By March of 1957, we not only had a hit record, but a national #1 Billboard hit with 'BUTTERFLY.'  The week that 'BUTTERFLY' fell to #4, the flip-side, 'NINETY-NINE WAYS' rose to #11. Remember -- there were also two cover versions by Andy Williams (Butterfly) and Tab Hunter (Ninety-Nine Ways), both of which became big hits that same spring. 

We had a monster of a record.

My agent back then, Bernie Rothbard, was contacted by the Sullivan people. who arranged to have me on the show Sunday, March 10th. It was such an honor. If you appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, you knew you had "made it."  I was even paid $5,000! I met Mr. Sullivan earlier in the day when we started rehearsals -- which seemed to go on forever!  I found him to be warm and personable. On the same show with me that night were actor Henry Fond, comedian Ben Blue, opera singer Renata Tebaldi, ventriloquist Senor Wences, college basketball star and fellow Philadelphian Wilt Chamberlain, plus actor / comedian, Don Ameche.

Mr. Sullivan and Don Ameche took notice of my greased back DA hairstyle, which was all the rage back then. They warmly ribbed me about it backstage: "Would you look at the hair on that kid's head!"

I was told that I'd be closing the show that night, which caused my agent Bernie Rothbard great distress: "Gee Charlie ... I don't like you closing the show ... sometimes if the telecast runs over ... they cancel the last act!"

Well, neither of us had long to worry. Shortly thereafter, I got a knock on my dressing room door by one of the stage hands: "Mr. Gracie, there's been a change and you are now opening the show!"  That sudden change somewhat startled me -- especially when he added: "about 20-million people will be watching you tonight, kid!"  Well ... let me not tell you ... I seldom ever got a case of "nerves" before or during a performance, but all of a sudden I kind of felt it that night. As it tuned out, Mr. Sullivan gave me a very warm introduction and I somehow got through it pretty well.  Its a piece of history now!

You know its funny, but rock & roll was still far from being accepted as an authentic art form. Many in the industry were still not so sure about this strange new 'music.' I think my record of 'BUTTERFLY' ran 2-minutes and 20-seconds. Well, my performance was cut down to something like 1-minute and 30-seconds!  I laugh when I think about it now, but those were the early days and we paid our dues for all the artists who came after us.  'BUTTERFLY' went on to sell over 2-million discs and I was awarded GOLD DISC on another legendary tv show that year: The Paul Winchall Circus Time program, seen nationally every Saturday on ABC.

I've been in the business for 60 full time years now, but its hard to top the year we had back in 1957. My follow-up record, 'FABULOUS' also made the Top 20 and I enjoyed a total of 6 Top 30 hits over in Great Britain that same year!  1957 also marked the first of many concert tours for me in the United Kingdom -- and I've been returning almost every year ever since! We also did the Warner Brothers movie 'Jamboree!' that year.

Looking back, I'm just happy to have been a part of it. It amazes me how far we've come with sound equipment and technology since the late 50s. It was really like the 'stone age' for us back then. By the way, I still play that very same Guild X-350 hollow body guitar to this day. If you go to my website: Click here: Charlie Gracie Links ( you can watch the actual opening of the Sullivan show and see me perform 'BUTTERFLY' after Ed's introduction.
When I finished my performance, Mr. Sullivan remarked to his tv audience:  "After looking at that little fella, Don Ameche and I were standing in the wings saying: 'Ah ... wouldn't it be nice to be that young again!'"

Now, at 75 I can totally relate and say: YES ED, it certainly would be nice!

-- Charlie Gracie

And, while we're on the topic of '50's Rockers, let us not forget Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones ... who appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show TWICE!!!

We were on the Ed Sullivan Show twice - first, in November of 1957, when we performed Black Slacks ... and then again in March of 1958,  performing Cotton Pickin' Rocker. 
The 1957 show came after a 13 week show in Vegas.  The Ed Sullivan Shows were the highlight of our career.  We were greatly honored to be on them.  

Our manager, Bob Cox formally a CBS Talent Agent, surprised us with the bookings on the Ed Sullivan Shows. Ed Sullivan was a perfect show host and treated us with great respect.  

On the 1957 Show we performed along with other great stars, Paul Anka and Jimmy Rogers.  On the 1958 show, we appeared with the Everly Brothers and Jo Stafford. 

-- Joe Bennett
Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Few More Of Your Recent Sullivan Comments

We're still getting mail about our highly popular Ed Sullivan Series 
(now running right up to Thanksgiving due to such a great response from our readers!)

Here are just a few more recent comments:

Here are some responses we received after sharing the news of the recent Ed Sullivan / Motown DVD releases from SOFA Entertainment and Universal Music: The Best of The Temptations on The Ed Sullivan Show,  The Best of The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show and Motown Gold from The Ed Sullivan Show (2 DVD set).  
We asked the musical question:  Why do people say that The Ed Sullivan Show launched the career of most Motown artists?

Neil Russo, the oldies but goodies
Simply because the hugely popular Ed Sullivan Show gave them a national platform to show-off their talents. Without Ed Sullivan, the Motown singers may still have gained fame, but not as quickly as they didIt would be similar to book author appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show, making the book an immediate best seller.

Lauren Castro, performing arts teacher
One great Motown group after another was introduced on Sullivan, new releases topped the music charts and Ed Sullivan's brief chats with the artists all gave way to a greater acceptance of African-American R&B by white teenagers. There's this Motown DVD collection that recently came out, which features all Motown acts from the Ed Sullivan Show:
It's a great collection, I definitely recommend this set, if you're a Motown fan, a music lover or simply appreciate a good piece of entertainment like The Ed Sullivan Show.

Ed Sullivan was a huge promoter and advocate of Motown artists and his show gave them a national platform to share their talents. Motown artists have, without a doubt, contributed to the world of music immensely and to this day they continue to captivate millions of hearts with their timeless music. The Jackson 5, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, just to name a few, were all part of the incredible roster of Motown acts who appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.

-- submitted by Bob Merlis / M.F.H.

Here's the scoop on these hot new releases one last time ...  
Motown stars on Sullivan..
This 2 DVD set features Motown's greatest artists including The Jackson 5,
The Supremes, Stevie Wonder and The Temptations. Enjoy 58 classic songs
by Motown's most belovedmusicians. 

The Supes were super on Sullivan..
The Supremes made 16 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show - more than
any other Motown artist or group. This DVD features 22 classic hits including
"You Can't Hurry Love," "Love Child,""Come See About Me" and "Love Is Like
An Itching In My Heart." Enjoy an incredible collection that has never been  
released on DVD and honors the 50th anniversary of The Supremes! 

"Get Ready" for the Temps on Ed Sullivan..
The Temptations set a very high bar for R&B groups with their distinctive
harmonies, flashy suits and dazzling choreography. The Temptations 
stepped into the Sullivan spotlight for the first time on May 28, 1967 and
went on to perform numerous hits which can be found on this DVD including:
"Just My Imagination," "My Girl," "Psychedelic Shack," and "I'm Losing You."
Enjoy this incredible DVD featuring 21 classic songs on a single DVD for the
first time. It's time to honor the 50th anniversary of The Temptations! 

Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) and SOFA Entertainment present Motown Gold from The Ed Sullivan Show (2 DVDs), and, in celebration of The Temptations' and Supremes' 50th  Anniversary, The Best of The Temptations on The Ed Sullivan Show (1 DVD) and The Best of The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show  (1 DVD). All three collections are packed with classic Motown performances from The Ed Sullivan Show, taped live between 1964 and 1971, and are fully restored with never before released footage.
One great Motown group after another was introduced on Sullivan, new releases topped the music charts and Ed's brief chats with the artists all led to a greater acceptance of African-American R&B by white teenagers. This helped Motown to conquer America, and in time, the company became world renown as "The Sound of Young America."
Motown Gold from The Ed Sullivan Show is a 2-DVD (3 Volume) collection with appearances by legendary Motown acts including:    
The Jackson 5 ushering in a new generation of Motown acts with a medley of their No. 1 hits “I Want You Back,” “The Love You Save” and “ABC.” 
 Diana Ross and The Supremes performing their No. 1 hits “Come See About Me,” “Someday We’ll Be Together” and “Love Child.”
The Temptations doing their No. 1 hits “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” and “I Can’t Get Next to You.”
The Four Tops with their No. 1 hit single “Reach Out I’ll Be There.”
Martha & the Vandellas singing their timeless classic “Dancing in the Street.”
Marvin Gaye’s only Sullivan appearance singing “Take This Heart of Mine.”
Young Stevie Wonder captivating the audience with his No. 1 hit “Fingertips Pt. 2” and his classic “For Once in My Life.”
A never-before-released performance of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles singing a medley of the hits “I Second That Emotion,” “If You Can Want” and “Going to a Go-Go.”
And many other great Motown Performances!
Bonus material included in this collection features a special performance by Gladys Knight & The Pips of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Houston, Texas, and the Four Tops singing ‘’Put A Little Love in Your Heart” at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
The Best of The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show
The Supremes rose from poverty to become Motown’s most consistent hit-maker and the most popular female group of the 60’s. Along with the charmed circle of Motown singers, writers, producers and players, they rewrote the book on pop music, sang their way into the hearts of millions and made a lasting impression that continues to this day.
With a total of sixteen appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Best of The Supremes collects some of the group’s greatest performances.  Included in this DVD is their very first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in December 1964, showcasing their No. 1 hit "Come See About Me." Other timeless performances featured are “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “My World is Empty Without You,” “Baby Love,” “Stop! In The Name of Love” and “The Happening.” And, for the first time on DVD, this collection includes a full version of “Up the Ladder to the Roof” which is the only appearance by the “New Supremes” after Diana Ross went on to pursue a solo career.
This collection of performances truly showcases why The Supremes are one of Motown’s biggest and most beloved acts.
The Best of The Temptations on The Ed Sullivan Show
The Temptations began their musical life in Detroit in the early sixties.  With their flashy suits, distinctive harmonies and precise, split-second choreography, they popularized a refined style of performance that made them a household name. For the first time on DVD, you get the best of their Ed Sullivan Show performances.  Included in this collection is the group’s very first appearance in May 1967, in which they performed a medley of hits including “My Girl” and “(I Know) I’m Losing You.”  Other songs featured are the group’s No. 1 hit “I Can’t Get Next to You,” a playful version of “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” the Top Ten hit “Psychedelic Shack,” and the 1969 hit single “Runaway Child, Running Wild” with Dennis Edwards replacing David Ruffin.
Highlights of this collection include:
    The Temptations’ special appearance alongside The Supremes with each group performing a medley of the other group’s hits, including “Get Ready,” “Stop! In The Name Of Love,” and “Baby Love.”
DVD debuting performances by The Temptations of “Hello Young Lovers,” “Autumn Leaves,” and never-before-released medleys of “Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue),” “All I Need,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “I’ll Be There” and “My Sweet Lord.”
The Temptations’ last appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1971 in which they performed “Get Ready” and their No. 1 hit “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me).” These tender and soulful performances were a fitting farewell to The Ed Sullivan Show. 

That story by Scott Paton about his experiences with Art Hannes at the "Hollywood School of Broadcasting" (really the KIIS Broadcasting Workshop) certainly hit home, as I, as I've noted before, was Operations Director of the place from it's inception in 1974 until I left to go work with Bill Drake at Drake - Chenault Enterprises in 1976.  As I had mentioned in my previous piece, the two founders of the Workshop only constructed it as a profit-making facade, as Art and I learned almost immediately after we were hired to staff it.  Mr. Hannes and I immediately set about turning it into a real school of broadcasting, writing the complete curriculum ourselves out of what we had wished WE had been told before we got into radio and learned the ropes the hard way.  Our goal was to try to impart as much insight and broadcast knowledge as possible into the studies -- in other words, give the students everything they would need to know in order to succeed except the one thing we could NOT give them: years of hands-on experience.  They'd still have to spend time working at small stations in the boonies honing their acts, but hopefully they'd spend LESS time there than they might otherwise before moving into major market radio.  We brought in top pros from many L.A. stations to share pointers, tips and advice and we did manage to launch quite a lot of our students into long lasting, successful broadcast careers.  I still hear from some of them.  While the KIIS Broadcasting Workshop was considered a profit center by its founders (who grew even more greedy after Art and I left), to us what we did there was a labor of love.   While my college girlfriend had always planned to be a teacher, I had never considered that road for myself.  However, I enjoyed guiding the students at the KIIS Broadcasting Workshop so much that I later taught music, broadcasting and entertainment history at UCLA.  
What Scott wrote about Art being far more interested in encouraging talent that simply selling someone a course perfectly captured the Art Hannes that I came to know and admire.  As I've noted, the motivation which drove Art and I during that period was the polar opposite of the Workshop's founders.   That's why the Workshop succeeded -- at least in it's early years when Art and I were there along with other pros who cared -- such as Ken Levine (see photo caption below).
Art Hannes, by the way, had a very deep, resonant voice -- as did several of the top announcers at CBS Radio and TV.  He told me about one time in the CBS elevator when a number of them challenged each other to hit deeper and deeper bass notes.  Finally Art simply laid down on the elevator floor.  "Look at me," he said.  "I can get lower than any of you."
Gary Theroux

attached photos: 
1) Art Hannes at the KIIS Broadcasting Worskhop. 1975

2) Gag photo of Gary Theroux (left) and Ken Levine at the KIIS Broadcasting Workshop, 1975.  Ken had been a popular DJ in San Diego under the name "Beaver Cleaver."   While teaching at the Workshop, Ken began writing sitcom scripts with a friend, David Issacs, and soon sold one to "The Jeffersons."  That led to Emmy winning success for the both of them crafting scripts for "M*A*S*H," "Cheers," "Fraiser" and other series.  Today Ken teaches sitcom writing.

I guess I was hooked early on when I watched family friends who were on the show in the fifties.  Joe Bennett and The Sparkletones were on The Ed Sullivan Show  two times. Sullivan was a show you could get your parents to watch because of the variety. Then us kids would get to see the latest musical groups perform. I don't think I missed many shows. This was the show of the week to watch. One of my best shows was when Vanilla Fudge did You Keep Me Hanging on! Yes, I loved The Beatles, the Stones and all the British Invasion ... but Fudge was from The USA and blew me away so much that I had to drive from South Carolina to North Carolina to see them in concert! I wish they would release all the musical groups from the show on DVD. Some have been released but there is still a ton that hasn't been.
Hail to the Greatest Show of Shows!
Mickey Cooksey
I don't know that they'll EVER release ALL of the musical performances ... too many licensing issues ... but an appearance by Vanilla Fudge (singing "You Keep Me Hangin' On") IS available on The Rock And Roll Classics 12-DVD Set:  
You'll also find "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and The Vanilla Fudge version of "Shotgun" available on iTunes for downloading to your personal collection.
And, believe it or not, that landmark performance of Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones performing THEIR big hit "Black Slacks" is available thru iTunes, too!
Click here: iTunes - Music Videos - Black Slacks (Ed Sullivan Show Live 1957) by Joe Bennett & The Sparkletones 

In fact, we'll be sharing an Ed Sullivan Memory from Joe Bennett himself next week ... so stay tuned for that!

Speaking of which ... 

We've save the best for last ... artist testimonials FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SCREEN ...
Forgotten Hits has received one-of-a-kind memories from several of the artists who appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show ... and we'll be sharing them with our readers all week long.
Don't miss the exciting conclusion of our VERY Special Tribute To The Ed Sullivan Show ... wrapping up JUST in time for the long Thanksgiving Weekend!

And be sure to check out our "Today's Forgotten Hit" selections next week, too ... each and every one from an artist who appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in The Swingin' '60's!!!