Saturday, November 5, 2011

More Sullivan Memories

Ed Sullivan's show -- originally titled "Toast of the Town" -- debuted in 1948.  It's long-running announcer (1949 - 1964) was Art Hannes, who became a good friend of mine when we worked together at KIIS in the mid-'70s.   Art was a correspondent for CBS News during World War II (one of Edward R. Murrow's "boys") and later became famous as "the voice of CBS," handling network IDs, station breaks, program announcing and more on such shows as "You Are There" and "Johnny Dollar."  Hannes participated in Orson Welles' famous "War Of The Worlds" broadcast in 1938 and was not only in the 1975 TV movie adaptation ("The Night That Panicked America") but guided the producers in accurately re-creating the studio from which that legendary program originated.   Born in Kentucky in 1922, Art also appeared in the 1953 film "Taxi" and narrated a series of LP biographies of classical composers (with musical excerpts) for Vox.  Some of those have since been reissued on CDs.  I last saw Art in 1982, shortly before I moved from L.A. to New York.  He came over to borrow a typewriter which I never got back -- and always wondered why.  Years later I learned that only a few days after he got the typewriter, Art suffered a debilitating stroke from which he never recovered.  Art Hannes died in a Sherman Oaks, California nursing home in 1992.  
-- Gary Theroux
Here's a picture of Gary Theroux and Art Hannes in October 1976

Hi Kent!
I remember the Ed Sullivan Show, especially when he had the rock groups on.
Everyone remembers the Beatles, but I liked when The Animals and The Doors were on. They were favorites of mine.
I enjoyed seeing Alan Price, the Animals' keyboard player. He was so talented and I believe he wrote House Of The  Rising Sun. I know he passed away but hope his family is collecting allot of residual money!
I have some of the shows that I purchased on DVD too. What memories!
For the record, Alan Price is alive and well ... and still performing.  In fact, we asked him for a comment for our series (but never heard anything back.)
Here is a link to his website: Click here: Alan Price Online
"House Of The Rising Sun" is an old, traditional folk song, most likely dating back to the 1930's ... Alan Price's name DID appear on the label credit as the songwriter when The Animals' single topped the charts here in America ... but even Price himself has said at various times that the song dates back to the 16th Century!!!  (For a more detailed history of this tune, check out this Wikipedia entry):
Suffice to say that with this many KNOWN recordings from the '30's and '40's, Alan Price did NOT write "House Of The Rising Sun" ... but The Animals' version IS considered by most to be the most popular and definitive version today.  (kk)
By the way, you can enjoy several of The Animals' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show thanks to the videos now available thru iTunes ... here's their biggest hit, the aforementioned "The House of the Rising Sun"" 
Click here: iTunes - Music Videos - The House of the Rising Sun (Ed Sullivan Show Live 1964) by The Animals
Other Animals titles available thru iTunes include "Bring It On Home To Me", "Don't Bring Me Down", "I'm Crying" and "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place". 

Hi Kent,
I was too young to watch Ed Sullivan and didn't get to see the Beatles, but I did get to stay up to see the Cowsills. I was so in awe of Susan. She was young ... a mere kid like me and there she was on TV singing! My dream was to be like her.  She was a HUGE inspiration and influence in my musical journey!  
Debe Welch  
Hi Debe!
Ironically, I've also been trying to get Susan to comment for our series but so far no luck.  (With The Cowsills out performing again, I thought it'd be a good chance for her to not only say something about The Ed Sullivan Show but also to plug some of their upcoming events.) Brother  John Cowsill now performs as part of The Beach Boys Band ... had hoped to maybe get something from him, too ... but again ... so far, no luck. (Maybe one of them will see this and drop us a line before the series is over!  Several other artists who appeared on Ed's program HAVE shared their memories with us ... all of these are still coming up as our Tribute To Ed Sullivan continues in Forgotten Hits!)  kk

My family always watched Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights at 7 PM.  It was a way to catch up on the latest in Entertainment whether it was  Music, Movies, Comedy or Broadway.  I remember  like yesterday the night the cast of Hair danced down the aisles to the stage, singing and dancing to one of the songs  from the play.  Everybody talks about The Beatles and Elvis but it was so much more.  If  Mickey Mantle hit three home runs that afternoon at Yankee stadium in a doubleheader, he would be in the audience and Ed would introduce him and say, "Right here in our audience tonight is Mickey Mantle ... take a bow, take a bow!"  Great memories for sure, but for those of us who grew up in that era let's not forget the Dick Clark Saturday Night show that was also live and featured the top 40 acts of the day like Fats Domino, Connie Francis, Paul Anka, etc, etc.

Kent -
What can I say about ED. He provided a product that was in demand, Rock and Roll.  We were there every Sunday to see the latest hot group for the first song then waiting anxiously thru the comedians, jugglers, pop singers and God KNOWS WHAT to see and heard the group sing the second song.
Yeah, who could forget the Beatles for the first time! Wow, the whole thing was magic! It was a great time to be a teenager.
Now that I look back there will never be a show like Ed's. Just the variety of it, like the top 40 radio stations of the past that had a little something for everyone, it would never exist now. But let me tell you, I gained a certain appreciation of all styles of music thru Ed and the top 40 that my kids will never have. Of course that why I try and expose them to my music and the music of my parents, good and bad.
Mike De Martino
President of the Lovejoy Music Club

Kent -- 
Our family was glued to the TV every Sunday night like most of those in America who had a TV set. I was the oldest of three boys and my Dad had given me his record collection around 1950 so I was listening to the Mills Brothers and Ink Spots on 78 rpm records regularly before we got our first TV in 1954. My father, in retrospect, had amazing taste in music for an Irish tenor. He collected the Mills Brothers and Ink Spots (almost all their Decca 78s), the Ravens, the Charioteers, the Southernaires, the Orioles, the Three Blazes, Nat "King" Cole, Billie Holiday, Joe Turner and Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis and Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five.  
The Mills Brothers seemed to be on the Ed Sullivan Show at least every other month from the time we started watching the show in September of 1954. Another band that I remember from the mid fifties that appeared often were the Treniers, a wild show band. 
Every week there was a different dancing act. I loved the tap dancers like the Will Mastin Trio (with Sammy Davis Jr.), Honey Coles, "Sand Man" Simms, Hines, Hines and Dad, Donald O'Connor, Gene Kelly and my favorite, "Peg Leg" Bates (who also appeared every other month, it seemed). I even liked the Ballroom type dancers like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, who was amazing, Cyd Charise and Marge and Gower Champion. 
Then there were the comedians. So many different styles, from old timers like Myron Cohen and Henny Youngman to nasty guys like Jack E. Leonard and Don Rickles to the ones who did impressions like Frank Gorshen. Ethnic humor was used as well, such as Pat Cooper (Patsy Caputo) with his Italian stories and many Jewish comedians such as Sam Levinson and Alan King telling family stories. I remember seeing Richard Pryor doing his first stand-up routine and it was CLEAN! Godfrey Cambridge was another very funny black comedian who appeared often. Jack Benny, who I never thought was very funny, had funny people with him to act as foils, such as Dennis Day and the amazing Mel Blanc. I remember seeing Jackie Mason get yanked and he gave the stiff arm to Ed and didn't appear again for many, many years. In the late 50s the satirists arrived such as Shelly Berman and Mort Sahl and later there were guys like Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart with stories that we really could relate to. 
I was front and center for Elvis' appearances and remember my dad making fun of his dancing moves, calling him a spastic, and then having the bottom of the screen blacked out for his next appearance. Are you kidding me? What a joke! Imagine if he had grabbed his crotch like Michael Jackson. Would he have been banned from TV forever?
My father used to love Sid Caesar (as the Three Haircuts) and Stan Freberg,  when they made fun of rock and roll in their parody songs. I suffered as he laughed hysterically. I also suffered when Jimmy Rodgers appeared to do "Honeycomb" in 1957 and he forgot when to come in and spent the next three measures trying to catch up with the big band arrangement of his folk song. I saw Ed kind of flub up when he was talking to Buddy Holly and I actually think he might have forgotten his name as he referred to him as "Tex" one time. 
I was still watching the Sullivan Show, this time with my girlfriend, when on 2/9/64 the Beatles made their first appearance in America. I realized that the audience was even more frenzied than when Elvis first appeared and that a new era was upon America, although my own taste remained stronger with Motown and  Stax records. I was now in my twenties and only checked in on Sunday night every once in awhile when I knew there would be an appearance by a musical act that I didn't want to miss.
When you think of it, it is quite amazing that the Ed Sullivan Show was on the air for 23 straight years as Ed had very little talent on stage. He always seemed awkward and unsure as he did his introductions and quick interviews after some acts, but he remains a legend today. Vaudeville finally died after he went off the air! 
Danny Guilfoyle

Sunday night TV was something special always in the Besch household.  Living in Dodge City meant watching Walt Disney or Lassie or Bonanza or Ed Sullivan, but never all of them because some came on at the same time as others.  Often Ed got left out if they did not have a big music act on and even then, with only ONE TV, the head of the household (Dad) had to be overridden first.  That was always tough. 
Ed was Topo Gigio, plate spinners, animal acts AND great rock / pop groups.  Ed was stiff and boring to hear, but the acts made him worth it.  I taped off the Sullivan show often, even tho sometimes they were lip synchs or live vocals over pre-recorded music beds.  The DC5 certainly were that way.  Yeah, Ed was boring and clumsy with his delivery, but that was all we had!  HE found and booked acts and MADE acts!  His Beatles shows made a huge impact on their careers, even if they were already on the way to the top.  He let us see the head shaking mop tops in prime time.  Looking back on the tapes now, he looks even MORE out of place, but he was genuine too, unlike these phony hosts on American idol and the like.  Slick?  NO.  But genuine?  YES.  Ed was what we now try NOT to have hosting a show.  SO, why do we miss him and know his name and have forgotten the ones that have come and gone since?  He was an original when there were no models to try to be like or not to be like as a host.  AND he had a really big SHOE
Clark Besch

If you have 18 minutes to spare, check out the "Big Break" episode on This American Life:
On the day the Beatles first performed on The Ed Sullivan show, there were six other acts booked as well, including the comedy duo Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall, who suddenly had to rework their act for an audience of teenage girls.
Carl Wiser
Hey Kent ...
I just saw an old Phil Silvers Sgt. Bilco  where he takes over The Ed Sullivan show ... really funny with all the real people and Ed himself. There was no title for the show. The plot is Ed's yearly show done by American soldiers. 
I was a youngster but I do remember Ed Sullivan was the first man I ever heard cuss on national television. After shaking a celebrity's hand in his audience he replied, "He damned near broke my hand" or something very similar. It was scandal for months in my little hometown.
Frannie and I were watching an appearance by Diana Ross and the Supremes on Ed's show the other night (as part of the Rock And Roll Classics DVD Set) ... and were SHOCKED to hear Ed say something to the effect of "It seems like everything these girls record goes straight to #1 ... and damned if they haven't just got another one"!!!  (lol)  Ed is probably one of only a few people who could have EVER gotten away with a remark like that on national television in the late '60's!!!  (kk)

Kent ...
I read this in George Carlin's Book:  "For me, the hardest show to do was the 'Ed Sullivan Show'.   All the late night shows, you did your 10 minute bit and you were out of there.  When you did the 'Sullivan Show' you were there all day. You had to get there early, for rehearsal." I guess the fact that he was heavily into drugs at the time - didn't make it any easier.  
Kent, have they ever put together a collection of Ed Sullivan's Bloopers?  He had a lot of good ones.
Frank B.
Hmmm ... that's something we'll have to ask Andrew Solt ... he owns the COMPLETE collection of EVERY Ed Sullivan Show ever filmed!  (kk)
Kent -
We do have a short BLOOPERS video (around 30 minutes I think.)  Some good moments on it, but in truth there weren't a ton of BLOOPERS on Sullivan. 
The disc is called "Ed's Outrageous Moments" ... and Andrew describes it as featuring many of "Ed's personal favorites, selected from the most hilarious bloopers, acrobatic feats and incredible stunts ever featured on his show. Fascinating, funny and uniquely Ed."
You can order your copy here:
Click here: The Best of The Ed Sullivan Show- Ed's Outrageous Moments | Ed Sullivan Show

I don't know whether your series will explore this, but --- 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 (my friends and I were particularly scornful of Topo Gigio), but there was at least something there, every week, for someone.  You suffered through the Moscow Ballet to be able to see the Dave Clark Five (who, I'm told, were the rock act that performed the most times on the Sullivan show, although the exact count of appearances varies according to the source). 
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.  Lots of shows featured pop and rock performances -- it is no coincidence that Sonny & Cher's first TV show debuted in 1971, the same year that Ed Sullivan bid farewell.  The Partridge Family, which started in 1970, offered teeny-bop girls a full half hour of David Cassidy.  And so it went.  Kids no longer had to endure the lame jokes of Borscht Belt comics to get their weekly dose of the Supremes.
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.  Our parents may not have liked the Doors, but at least they were familiar with what they didn't like, thanks to Ed Sullivan and other variety shows. 
Henry McNulty

This is turning out to be a wonderful and exciting feature!  Don't know if you have any way of measuring your week-to-week readership, but it will be interesting to see if there's an uptick in DVD sales!
Alan O'Day

Response has been good so far ... and Andrew Solt seems happy ... so I'm guessing all is good!  Thank you for sharing YOUR special memories of The Ed Sullivan Show ... (who knew that Alan O'Day appeared on The Sullivan Stage back in 1965 ... TWELVE YEARS before "Undercover Angel" topped the pop charts!!!) 


We've got LOTS more cool stuff and surprises (just like that one!) coming up as our series continues next week ... be sure to join us again tomorrow when we pick up our interview with Andrew Solt.  And we've got LOTS more great memories coming your way all week long ... so don't miss a posting ... as Forgotten Hits Salutes and Remembers "The Ed Sullivan Show"!!!  (kk) 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Remembering The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show

The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show ... I remember it as clear as day ... it had THAT big of an impact.  So many little things ... all the focus on their hair ... the insane crowd reaction of screaming girls ... the fact that my Dad had a really good friend named Bud Baehr ... and he looked JUST like George Harrison (only with a crew-cut ... because that's pretty much what EVERY guy wore back then!!!) ... and then, watching the show a week later to see if me and my brothers could pick out "the guy who looked like Bud"!!!  The "Sorry Girls, He's Married" imprint that flashed on the screen when the camera panned to John Lennon  (a tribute that Tom Hanks would later pick up in his excellent film "That Thing You Do".)  Walking home from school later that week with three girls who could sing ... word for word ... EVERY song on the "Meet The Beatles" album.  Going to my Grandma's house one weekend where she presented me and my two brothers with Beatle wigs ... and then all three of us putting the wigs on and bursting into an impromptu performance of "She Loves You", shaking our heads so vigorously and with such exaggeration that we ended up with headaches SO bad we all had to lie down for awhile later that afternoon! 
By the time of The Beatles' first Ed Sullivan Show appearance, February 9th, 1964, "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "I Saw Her Standing There", "She Loves You" and "Please Please Me" had already hit the charts ... and their first "official" US album, "Meet The Beatles" was a week away from topping the charts, too ... being held at bay by (of all things!) The Singing Nun!!!  ("Meet The Beatles" would hit the summit the following  week ... and then stay there for the rest of February, all of March and all of April ... only to be knocked out of the top spot by "The Beatles' Second Album", which kept the string going for five more weeks!!!)
We'd never seen anything like it before ... and we haven't seen anything like it since. In hindsight it's almost impossible to believe ... just to think that it happened at all, let alone as incredibly FAST as it did ... worldwide Beatlemania literally exploded overnight ... but we were there and we saw it with our very own eyes!  
(And it was AMAZING!!!)  
For the week ending April 4th, The Beatles held The Top Five spots on The Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart:  "Can't Buy Me Love" (which had just jumped to #1 from a previous week debut of #27 ... both ... at the time ... Billboard chart records), "Twist And Shout" at #2, "She Loves You" (the previous week's #1 Record) at #3, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" still holding on at #4 and "Please Please Me" at #5.  A week later, The Beatles had FOURTEEN songs in The Top 100, adding "Do You Want To Know A Secret", "I Saw Her Standing There", "You Can't Do That", "All My Loving", "From Me To You", "Thank You Girl", "There's A Place", "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Love Me Do" to yet another record-breaking list! In all, The Beatles would chart an incredible 32 Titles on The Billboard Singles Chart in 1964 alone.  
When you think back about ALL the acts that Ed Sullivan brought into our living rooms over his 23 year prime time run, it's inconceivable that he has never been so much as nominated for The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  Hopefully this series will FINALLY shed a little light on this gross injustice.  (kk)

Thanks for featuring a tribute to Ed Sullivan. I would have more money in my pocket if I had a dollar for every local, regional, or national artist that has told me that they got into music after seeing the Beatles on Sullivan.  I was very young, however, I remember my mother exclaiming "look at their hair" each time they were on.  Ed's friend Topo Gigio was what I liked to see at that age.  I remember being excited the first time I saw the Jackson Five appear.  While in high school I won the part of Mr. MacAfee in the musical Bye Bye Birdie and got to sing Hymn For A Sunday Evening (We're Gonna Be On Ed Sullivan).  While we had fake television cameras and a make believe set, I remember thinking how nervous the Sullivan  guests must have been to be on a show that so many people watched.
To me the Ed Sullivan show was a lot like Top 40 radio was in those days.  It was a variety show.  If you didn't like what you were hearing or seeing, you waited five minutes and something would come on that you liked.  You were exposed to so much entertainment and styles of music that many times you grew to appreciate.  It is not like today's ipod, me pod, TiVo, generation that we live in.
Ed Sullivan was often imitated but never equaled.  He does deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I hope someday that happens.
Phil - WRCO

To me the two greatest memories I have was when Elvis Presley appeared and The Beatles.
I can definitely remember watching on those nights and I'll never forget it.
I can't forget comedians Jackie Mason and Will Jordan appearing on his show.
Then, in the Bye Bye Birdie movie, they put in an excerpt of The Sullivan Show for their home town. Those were the days. Other Sunday nights I watched The Steve Allen Show.
DJ Stu Weiss

Ed  Sullivan was like my window to the music world. Each week a new discovery walked onto his stage and into our living rooms. Even before The Beatles made their historic appearances on his show, I would watch with anticipation, and head to my 45 RPM record player in the week ahead reliving what I saw on Sunday night. I never appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show ... but like all of us here,feel an indebtedness to him, in the same way you would if he had something to do with our careers ... because in a way, he did have a to do with all of our careers.
Thank you Ed Sullivan.
Mitch Schecter / The Rip Chords

You have to consider that Ed Sullivan meant something different to us. It was TV when TV was completely different. It was just another hour's worth of what we took for granted back then. When we began watching it was live and just a camera pointed at everything from jugglers to operatic divas. For me, nothing registered very much. It was disposable entertainment, in one eye and out the other. It was a chance to see artists that we heard on the radio and that was it. No big deal at all. I do remember The Beatles and how we all sat and laughed at those goofy looking people with the long floppy hair, wondering what the fuss was all about and that was it. Never thought they would last, least of all attain the status they hold today. 
Not much of a contribution, but it's the truth of what I lived.
Mister Hil

Most memorable Sullivans were The Beatles obviously & DC5. Also when Stones did “Paint It Black”. Honorable mention to Doors “Light My Fire”.  It was  mostly a Family night of TV, and memories of My Dad not caring one way or the other about the Rockers, and my Mother thinking they all looked like “Creeps”! Especially after the hair got long. Pretty Funny!   

I, like many other 9 year olds, was aware of Ed Sullivan but didn't pay all that much attention to him prior to February of 1964. As a youngster, my family would watch him occasionally - especially in winter when we couldn't be outside at 7 pm on Sunday (Central Time is best, btw). We also enjoyed Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour on Sunday afternoons. I was too young to see Elvis' early appearances on Ed's show, but enjoyed Topo Gigio and other interesting acts from time to time. In '63 "Bye Bye Birdie" also helped make me aware there was something special about Ed Sullivan. Everything changed on February 9, 1964 - just as it did for millions of Boomers. I sat spellbound in front of the TV the entire hour - and from that day forward I always kept up with The Ed Sullivan Show. I wonder if there's ever been another time in the history of broadcasting when the appearance of one act, or artist, had such a profound impact on the future of one program. 
David Lewis

This may be a minority response to others you will get on The Beatles debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.  I definitely sat with my family each Sunday night and enjoyed the variety that his show brought to the world.  But on the first night of The Beatles appearance, my dad asked me if it was ok to watch another show that he was interested in, and I replied, "Sure!"  As I recall, I didn't even watch TV that night, but retired to my room to read another Nancy Drew mystery or listen to music.  You see, my friends and I could not understand the hype behind four "boys" who were a singing group.  "After all, Mom, they're just BOYS and I get bothered by enough of them already."  HOWEVER, at school the next day EVERYONE (even the staff) were talking about THE BEATLES on the Ed Sullivan Show.  So, the next week, my best friend and I decided to watch ... ONLY so we could participate in conversations in a knowing fashion.  AND THE REST, as they say, IS HISTORY.  Ed Sullivan had my eyes on each occasion he announced a popular singing group would be appearing.  Too young to attend concerts and not having an older sibling I could tag behind, THIS was my visual introduction to not only The Beatles, but The Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits, The Animals, Freddie and the Dreamers, Petula Clark ... etc., etc., etc.
Thank you, Ed.
Shelley J. Sweet-Tufano

The complete collection of The Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show is one of the best sellers in the series ... and it features EVERY appearance they ever made "live on our stage" ... in full-show format, complete with original commercials!  (If you watch their very first appearance, you'll even catch a very young pre-Monkee Davy Jones performing his role as "The Artful Dodger" in a stage presentation of "Oliver"!)  It's all there in all its original glory, BEAUTIFULLY restored footage that shows the earliest stages of Beatlemania as it hit the U.S.
Order YOUR copy here:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Forgotten Hits Salutes The Ed Sullivan Show ... The Andrew Solt Interview

Owning "The Ed Sullivan Show" is like owning The Holy Grail of Variety Television.  It harkens back to an earlier time when, with just three major network channels, the entire family would sit down together to watch an evening of television programming (typically built around the most "common denominator" as to what all could agree to watch on that particular evening.)

It was a time before Cable TV (and a TV set in every room) ... today, many (if not most) families isolate themselves behind closed doors so that each can watch what THEY want to watch, with little regard for what another family member may be viewing. 

But "The Ed Sullivan Show" had something for EVERYBODY ... great comedians ... major TV and Sports figures ... Broadway Plays (both musicals and dramas), opera, circus acts, animal acts and, beginning in 1955, the absolute latest in the world of Rock And Roll.  Something for EVERYBODY.

The program ran from June 20, 1948 (launched as "Toast Of The Town") through March 28, 1971, thus becoming the longest-running variety show in television history.  Along the way, its name was changed to "The Ed Sullivan Show" (after its incomparable host) and, by the time it ended, it was being broadcast from The Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City.  (Today this same building hosts "Late Night with David Letterman" ... in fact, a milestone was reached last year when Paul McCartney performed a few songs from the rooftop of The Ed Sullivan Theater, drawing back memories of both The Beatles' first American live television appearance on Ed's program in 1964 ... as well as their final performance together as a group on the rooftop of their own Apple Records Studio in 1969.)

If you grew up in this era, "The Ed Sullivan Show" was part of your weekly routine ... Ed was practically a part of your family.  Incredible as it may seem, this year marks the 40th Year since it was last broadcast on Sunday Nights on CBS Television.

In 1990, the exclusive rights to the complete library of "The Ed Sullivan Show" were purchased by Andrew Solt from Ed's daughter Elizabeth and her husband Bob Precht, a long-time Executive Producer on the show.  In all, this collection encompasses nearly 1100 hours of classic television, including over 10,000 live performances by virtually EVERY popular entertainer to pass through our collective existence between 1948 and 1971 ... many of whom went on to achieve super-stardom, quite often as a direct result of the exposure they received on Ed's weekly program.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and visit with Andrew Solt and much of that conversation follows in this brand new, exclusive Forgotten Hits Series.  (Prior to actually speaking to him,  I pictured Andrew up at the very top of the king's tower, surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of video tapes screaming "Mine ... All Mine!!!", which is probably what I would do if I owned such a collection ... but instead he was very approachable and down to earth about the whole thing ... very proud of his collection, to be sure ... and the legacy that it encompasses ... but also acknowledging that these tapes deserve to be seen by the people who grew up enjoying Ed's program.)  And that's really what it comes down to ... what good is HAVING all this one-of-a-kind video footage if you can't SHARE it with somebody!  

Thankfully, over the years, a few of these vintage performances have found their way to home video or were included as part of television specials and tributes to the legacy of Ed Sullivan ... and, according to Andrew, we're just getting started.  

Recently there has been a flurry of releases.  A few years ago, the best-selling DVD collection of ALL of The Beatles' appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" was released.  That was followed a short while later by the complete Elvis Presley appearances.  Both collections offer the viewer the opportunity to watch ONLY these landmark, legendary musical performances ... or view the entire program EXACTLY as it aired then, complete with original commercials!

The past several weeks has brought us The Ed Sullivan Motown Collection (featuring some of the biggest names in Motown) as well as special disks devoted to the performances of Diana Ross and the Supremes and The Temptations. 

Two other special editions are now available spotlighting the appearances of The Rolling Stones ... 

a 4-disk compilation was released on October 4th ... and, just this week, a deluxe 6-disk set which hit stores on November 1st ... meaning fans can now own EVERY appearance ever made by The Rolling Stones on Ed's program ... to enjoy as part of their home music / video library.


KENT KOTAL / FORGOTTEN HITS: You were born in London ... and spent some time in South Africa before moving to The United States in 1958. What was YOUR first experience with discovering The Ed Sullivan Show?

ANDREW SOLT: I had never seen television before we moved here to America. I was eleven years old the first time I ever watched TV ... and I fell in love with The Ed Sullivan Show. I remember spending an afternoon with my brother watching nothing but game shows and even at that early age wondering "How does anyone get anything done here?" with all that great TV to watch. I was both fascinated and completely captivated.
(How much of an impact did this experience have on a young Andrew Solt?  In 1983, Solt produced an NBC television special titled "Those Wonderful TV Game Shows"!!! - kk)

kk:  Would you say that you have always been a "fan" of the series? What are some of YOUR favorite remembrances of this landmark series? What kinds of things did YOU tune in to watch, growing up in the late '50's and '60's?

AS:  The Ed Sullivan Show was always my favorite. Much like you, I may have first tuned in to see the rock and roll acts ... but I also grew to love the variety of SO many different forms of entertainment presented on the same stage during the course of an evening. Besides the rock music for the kids, Ed had Broadway shows, live drama, sports figures, ballet, opera, some great comedians, vaudeville and novelty acts, animals, circus performers and, of course, Topo Gigio! ... truly something for everybody.

kk:  It seems that Sullivan's shows strived to always have something for everybody. This was back in an age where the whole family sat down together to watch television on Sunday Nights ... with typically a choice of only three television channels to choose from.

AS:  You're right ... this was the golden era of network television ... three major networks and that was it ... not like the hundreds of cable channels we have today. If you lived in a major city, you might have six or seven channels ... the three major networks and perhaps up to three or four local affiliates ... but Ed Sullivan had a regular viewership that tuned in faithfully every Sunday night just to see who he was going to have on ... and week after week, he rarely disappointed, always having the biggest names in every field of entertainment on his program.

kk:  And it wasn't just the entertainers appearing on the stage ... it was amazing to see who might be sitting in the audience on any given night! Ed would always find a way to recognize every celebrity on hand.

AS:  He knew everybody ... and he was always looking for the next hot act. After working on his newspaper column and rehearsing the television show, Ed and his wife Sylvia would go out every night to nightclubs and theaters, often staying out till three in the morning seeking “the next big thing” for the show. This was the life they both enjoyed.

kk:  I'm sure I watched Ed Sullivan before 1964, but the night The Beatles first appeared on his program is still as clear in my mind as it can be, all these years later. (Watching the now-available DVD rebroadcasts of these appearance only confirms how truly vivid these memories really are!) I'll never forget going to school the next day and having The Beatles being the ONLY topic of discussion anyone wanted to spend time on! (In fact, the night after The Beatles' first television appearance, my Dad took us three boys to the barber shop to get haircuts. The running joke that night was whether or not the three of us basically flat top / crew cut boys wanted new "Beatle cuts" or not! A vivid memory to be sure ... of not only an IMMEDIATE fashion style-impact The Fab For had on America ... but also of the day when barber shops were still open on Mondays!!! lol)

AS:  So you remember that very first Beatles appearance? So many of us do ... it was a life-changing moment for many of us. By then, early 1964, we had heard the records but we had never SEEN The Beatles. You had the record album covers to look at, of course ... but we had never seen them perform live ... and witnessed their wit and charm and charisma. The Beatles' first performance drew 73 million viewers ... it's a mind-boggling statistic ... that THAT many people would tune in to see one act perform ... and a relatively unknown, unproven act at that!  But you have to understand that Ed's program regularly drew 30-35 million viewers, each and every week. That's almost unheard of in television today. Today the only programs that generate that kind of an audience ... 30 million viewers ... would be something like a major sporting event like The Super Bowl ... or perhaps the season finale of "American Idol" ... but Ed Sullivan delivered those kinds of ratings on a regular basis back then when there were less than half as many Americans.  Now consider that there were far fewer televisions in homes back then ... and the numbers become truly staggering.

kk:  This is true ... today most families have a TV in every room ... and each member of the family goes off on their own, closes the door and watches what THEY want to watch, from a choice of over 200 different channels! It's not like the old days where the whole family would sit down together and watch ... and enjoy ... the same program! Now I'll admit to leaving the room whenever something of lesser interest came on the screen ... but we didn't stray far for fear of missing something new and exciting. Ed ALWAYS seemed to have a way of catching an artist RIGHT when their latest hit record was soaring up the charts!

AS:  It didn't take long for people like Berry Gordy of Motown to catch on ... back then the new record releases came out on Monday ... and if your act was performing on The Ed Sullivan Show Sunday Night, it was pretty much a sure thing that the kids would be hitting the record stores the very next day, buying the latest hit record they heard on TV the night before. And Ed Sullivan knew this. He was very in tune with the power of the media and the power of his program.

kk:  His program always seemed to capture an artist at exactly the right time ... just as their latest record was about to break big, they'd be on the Sullivan stage performing it live!

AS:  And certainly those performances helped to break that new record big ... and the record company executives KNEW this. It was quite the coup to be asked to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.

kk:  And the way he found these acts was sometimes amazing, too. Had he not been at the airport in London at the exact moment The Beatles were landing, he may never have even booked the lads on his television program!

AS:  You're right ... Ed was landing at London's Heathrow Airport when he and his wife saw literally THOUSANDS of screaming girls ... and a few boys ... waiting for The Beatles' plane to come in from Scotland. Ed asked what all the fuss was about ... at first he thought perhaps this crowd had turned out to see The Royal Family! When he learned that they were all there to see a pop group called The Beatles, he immediately started seeking out their manager when he got to his hotel. Now this was in November of 1963 ... The Beatles weren’t even dominating the charts in America yet ... in fact, they had yet to have their first U.S. hit record ... but he made Brian Epstein a standing offer on the spot that whenever they were ready, he would book The Beatles on his program ... same deal he had given Colonel Parker and Elvis Presley in 1956 ... three separate appearances. And The Beatles were smart to wait ... as part of the negotiation, Brian Epstein insisted on three things that had previously been decided upon by John and Paul: that The Beatles would not come to America until they had a #1 Record ... that they would have their first major concert appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York City ... and that they would receive top billing on Ed's program ... again, a VERY bold move for an act that had no proven history with an American audience up to this point. The Beatles themselves were unsure as to just how well they would go over here in America ... no British act had ever really had this type of blow-out success before here in The States ... but Brian Epstein believed in his band and negotiated a pretty remarkable deal that Ed Sullivan whole-heartedly agreed to. The Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show proved to be ultimately more popular than those of Elvis Presley some eight years earlier!  It was seen by over 72 million people and had an 82% share of the audience.  Amazing!

kk:  It was quite exciting to see ... and the footage still holds up incredibly well today. And who would have ever thought that also on the bill that night was a young Davy Jones, then acting in the musical "Oliver" on Broadway!

AS:  Yes! A very happy coincidence to be sure!  
(And Davy has since said that watching The Beatles perform from the wings of The Ed Sullivan Theater is what inspired him to try his hand at rock and roll. Two years later, he'd be starring in his own television series BASED on The Beatles ... when The Monkees was born! - kk)  
You know some people say that The Beatles' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was NOT their first American television appearance ... and they'll site a short clip that aired on The Jack Paar Show two weeks before ... but that clip didn't really show The Beatles performing ... it showed the fans turning up at the airport to greet The Beatles and made fun of their unusual hairstyles. In fact, right before their Sullivan appearance, Walter Cronkite had run a short newsreel clip of the pandemonium of Beatlemania at a European appearance ... but The Beatles' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was their first LIVE appearance on American television ... and this is the one that we all know gave rise to Beatlemania here in full-blown fashion. The Beatles only made four  live appearances on Ed Sullivan ... the original three as stipulated by their contract signed in 1963 and a fourth appearance in 1965 that aired just prior to their appearance at Shea Stadium.

kk:  Right ... this was the one where Paul performed "Yesterday" completely solo without the other three ... something ELSE that was unheard of for the time. And then Ed went on to introduce them at Shea Stadium, too.

AS:  Ed seemed to have a real rapport with The Beatles ... and certainly they were appreciative of the exposure his program brought them in America.   Sullivan Productions produced the Beatles’ Shea Stadium concert and the film that was made of the historic event.  Even though they never appeared again live on his program, they would send in films of themselves, performing their latest hit records ... videos like "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" ... some of the very first rock music videos really ... they stayed connected to The Ed Sullivan Show for the rest of their careers. They had miming laws in Great Britain that didn't allow an artist to lip-sync their records on television so The Beatles started making music video clips of their latest hit singles ... and several of these aired here first in America on The Ed Sullivan Show.

You can own the complete collection of The Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show ...
Check out the link below: 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Andrew Solt

Andrew Solt's resume reads like a book of dreams and wishes.

He is an Emmy and Grammy-winning producer, director, writer and documentary film maker.  (He also happens to own the rights to the entire Ed Sullivan Show library, which is what WE wanted to talk to him about.  Very special thanks to Mega-Promoter Bob Merlis for helping to make that happen!)

By the time Solt purchased the exclusive rights to The Sullivan Show (1990), he had already built an incredible list of credentials.

In the late 1970's and early 1980's, Andrew worked with underwater pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau on several television projects.  He wrote and produced "Oasis In Space", a six-part half-hour series, executive produced by Jacques Cousteau and his son, Philippe.  This series resulted in Andrew's first of nine Emmy nominations.  Several other Costeau projects followed.

In 1979, Solt teamed with producer / director Malcolm Leo to create one of the very first television documentaries about rock music.  The highly praised "Heroes Of Rock And Roll" aired as a two hour special later that year.  In 1995, Solt expanded his Rock And Roll horizons by executive producing a Ten-Episode series for Time-Life called "The History Of Rock And Roll", which ran as a syndicated television series before being marketed for home video.  And the rock didn't stop there ... Andrew has also produced made-for-video releases like "25 x 5: The Continuing Adventures Of The Rolling Stones" (1989) and "Elvis: The Great Performances" (1990).

Other music / film credits include the 1981 film "This Is Elvis", "Imagine: John Lennon" (1988) as well as numerous Ed Sullivan television specials, paying homage to the ultimate variety host.

And it doesn't stop there ... Andrew has produced anniversary and reunion specials like "Donald Duck's 50th Birthday", "The Honeymooners Reunion", "The Muppets: A Celebration Of 30 Years", "Great Moments In Disney Animation", "Remembering Marilyn", "The Andy Griffith Show Reunion", "Sesame Street's All-Star 25th Birthday", "Grammy's Greatest Moments", "CBS: The First 50 Years" as well as 75th Anniversary Television Specials for both CBS and NBC!

The list goes on and on ... but THIS week he's sitting here with us here in Forgotten Hits to talk about The Ed Sullivan Show library ... what's available ... what's new ... and what we might expect to see in the years to come.  Along the way, we'll share some precious memories of the television program that EVERYBODY watched ... The Ed Sullivan Show.

Stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Forgotten Hits Remembers "The Ed Sullivan Show"

Three generations grew up watching The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS Television back in the '50's, 60's and '70's.  It became THE showcase for break-out, new talent.

Certainly it is BEST remembered for helping to launch the careers of Elvis Presley and The Beatles ... and, while it may be true that NEITHER of these artists actually made their very first television appearance on Sullivan's program, it was The Ed Sullivan Show that catapulted each of their respective careers into the Show Biz Stratosphere!

Ed's Sunday Night Program ran from 1948 through 1971 ... an incredible 23 years as literally "The Toast Of The Town" of variety entertainment television (which, ironically enough, is what the show was first called when it debuted back in 1948!)  Through the years, Sullivan brought into our homes the full gamut of pop culture ... you'd catch "something for the kids" like The Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits or The Dave Clark Five ... the era's hottest comedians (like George Carlin and George Gobel ... Joan Rivers and Carol Burnett ... 
or Richard Pryor and Flip Wilson) ... a complete Broadway Production Number, recreated "right here on our stage" from "West Side Story", "Camelot", "My Fair Lady" or "Oliver" ... singers' singers like Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett ... or Ethel Merman and Judy Garland ... and it was ALL on display ... every Sunday Night ... right in our living rooms ... and often all within the same 60 minute show!

It was the very essence of family, variety TV ... and nobody did it better than this most unlikely of hosts, Ed Sullivan.  An appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was the epitome of "making it" ... The Holy Grail of Entertainment ... if you were asked to do THIS show, you knew you were either on your way ... or already there.

Some of our clearest and fondest memories are of performances we saw "live" on The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday Nights ... yet for years now, many of these have remained exactly that ... simply memories.  Much of this footage has been locked up in the vaults for decades now ... but every once in a while we'd see a special new release to renew hope that some of this material might become available once again ... to the audience that would MOST appreciate seeing it!

That plan now seems to be in motion ... Andrew Solt, who purchased the EXCLUSIVE rights to the entire library of Sullivan shows back in 1990, has been releasing special compilation DVD sets over the past several years, spotlighting "favorite son" artists like Elvis and The Beatles, encompassing ALL of their COMPLETE appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show into one collectors' piece home video set.  Recent releases include the complete appearances of The Rolling Stones ... a Tribute To Motown (featuring key artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five, The Four Tops and many, many others) as well as individual releases spotlighting the appearances of Diana Ross and the Supremes and The Temptations.

Several compilation DVDs are also available, covering Ed Sullivan: The Rock And Roll Years, dipping back to the '50's for vintage performances by the likes of Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke and Paul Anka ... through the '60's appearances of everyone from The Doors to The Mamas and the Papas to Creedence Clearwater Revival ... and into the earliest shows of the '70's ... with artists like The Carpenters, The Jackson Five and Santana.  Similar collections are also available, spotlighting Comedy, Broadway and The Arts.  There are even deluxe box set packages that give you a little bit of everything ... and some of these packages even play back with the original commercials!  (It just may be the closest we ever get to an actual time machine ... and it all works PERFECTLY!!!)

Of course, The Ed Sullivan Show wasn't JUST about Elvis and The Beatles ... virtually anybody who was ANYBODY appeared on this program back in the day.  British Invasion acts like Herman's Hermits, The Rolling Stones, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Dave Clark Five ... contemporary pop stars like Tom Jones, The Fifth Dimension, Neil Diamond, The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons and Simon and Garfunkel ... Soul Legends like the aforementioned Sam Cooke, James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.  And there were SO many more one-off appearances FAR too lengthy to mention here.  Imagine having ALL of these performances available for viewing again!

Sure, for OUR purposes, we LOVED the music acts ... as we said, Ed ALWAYS made sure that he had "something for the kids" on his program ... and, as such, had the ratings to prove it!  And Forgotten Hits is ALL about the music.  But it's SO nice to see that ... FINALLY ... more and more of these clips seem to be making their way to home video.  A visit to Click here: The Ed Sullivan Show - Official Website for DVD's, CD's & Videos shows you which DVDs are currently available ... and which new releases are planned.  There is also now an exclusive Ed Sullivan YouTube Channel, courtesy of Andrew Solt and SOFA Entertainment, providing one minute "teaser clips" of some of the other material available in the vaults.  (For YEARS you didn't DARE post a clip from The Ed Sullivan Show on YouTube ... the site was CONSTANTLY being policed to insure that these videos vanished just as quickly as they appeared ... and Solt is VERY proud of his exclusive rights to this material, as he should be.  How cool is it that HE is now personally making some of this material available again!)

For the next two weeks, we'll be taking an EXCLUSIVE look back at The Ed Sullivan Show ... and its musical impact on our teenage landscape.  Andrew Solt, the official "keeper of the castle", has agreed to sit down with us and answer a few questions ... as well as share some of his OWN memories and favorite moments.  (Who knows ... we may even share a few classic Sullivan clips right here on the site!)

It's something you're NOT going to want to miss ... and it's all right here EXCLUSIVELY in Forgotten Hits.  Please join us for our musical tribute to The Ed Sullivan Show!!!

Kent Kotal
Forgotten Hits

Key Links:
Here's a link to the Main Home Page of 
Click here: The Ed Sullivan Show - Official Website for DVD's, CD's & Videos ...  
browse around and you'll see ALL of the DVD's currently available for order:
And click on some of the sub-links to see lists of "Favorite Artists" and background history information on both Ed Sullivan, the program and SOFA Entertainment President Andrew Solt.
And here's the official Ed Sullivan Show YouTube Channel:
You'll find many of these snippet clips posted here for your review!

And then be sure to check back with Forgotten Hits every day for more on one of the most important television programs of our lives ... 
The Ed Sullivan Show!  (kk)

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Rolling Stones: Today's The Day!

As promised, today we've got a very special Top Ten Countdown of the Ten Greatest Performances of The Rolling Stones on The Ed Sullivan Show (as selected by Andrew Solt ... Andrew owns the rights to the entire Ed Sullivan video library ... and we'll be talking to him later this week in Forgotten Hits!)    
The brand deluxe DVD Set, featuring ALL of their performances from their six appearances on the program, hits stores TODAY!!!  Check it out ... you won't want to miss it!

Top 10 Rolling Stones Performances on The Ed Sullivan Show

In celebration of the releases of the  
4 Ed Sullivan Show Starring The Rolling Stones 
and the collector’s edition 
6 Ed Sullivan Show Starring The Rolling Stones
here is a list of our top 10 Stones’ performances from Sullivan:

1. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”

The Rolling Stones open their February 13, 1966 appearance with their iconic “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”  The song, now ranked #2 in Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” is written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and becomes the Stones first #1 hit in the US, remaining #1 for four weeks in a row.  The performance is highlighted by close-ups of Jagger in full command of the stage.  

2. “Let’s Spend The Night Together”

This classic Rolling Stones’ song is the crux of a pivotal moment in television censorship history.  Due to its “suggestive” lyrics (for the time), CBS refuses to allow the Stones to sing the song as “Let’s Spend The Night Together” on the show.  A compromise is reached and the band agrees to change the lyrics from “let’s spend the night together” to “let’s spend some time together.”  During the singing of the censored line, Mick Jagger sarcastically rolls his eyes letting the audience know what he thinks of the whole charade.

3. “Gimme Shelter”

On November 23, 1969, the Stones perform “Gimme Shelter” off their soon to be released album Let it Bleed.  These are turbulent times in the world, and in the history of the band (Brian Jones had died just months earlier).  This performance really captures the turmoil of the late 60’s and the forces at war with one another.

4. “As Tears Go By”

On February 13, 1966 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards perform this song as a stripped down duet with Richards softly strumming the chords on his acoustic guitar and Jagger singing directly into the camera.  This performance is a rare look at the two normally flamboyant superstars as they sing this ballad simply and purely.  It is a moving counterpoint to the better known fast-paced Stones rock ‘n roll.

5. “Paint It, Black”

On September 11, 1966, The Ed Sullivan Show has a star-studded lineup to kick off its fall season that includes Louis ArmstrongJoan Rivers and The Rolling Stones.  The Stones perform “Paint It, Black,” the first single off their Aftermath album.   Brian Jones plays the signature riff on his sitar. 

6. “Time Is On My Side”

The Rolling Stones perform this song to close out their debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on October 25, 1964.  Throughout the performance, Mick Jagger, dressed in a loose-fitting sweater, does his best to sing over the raucous crowd that shrieks each time he looks to the audience or into camera.   

7. “Ruby Tuesday”

The Stones appear on Sullivan to perform this classic ballad on January 15, 1967.  For the acoustic performance, the band plays a variety of instruments.  Bill Wyman switches out his bass for a cello, Brian Jones plays a recorder instead of a guitar and Keith Richards takes a seat at the piano.

8. “Honky Tonk Women”

This twanging country tune is performed by The Rolling Stones on Sullivan on November 23, 1969.  Having topped the nation’s charts just months earlier with this song, the performance is powerfully delivered by the band that is now atop the world of rock ‘n roll.   This is the last song The Rolling Stones will ever perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.

9. “Lady Jane”

The Stones deliver an intimate performance of this song on September 11, 1966.  Brian Jones, who had broken his hand, provides a haunting instrumentation as he sits Indian style playing the dulcimer with a cast on his left hand.  This is an especially rare performance, since following Jones’ death in 1969, the Stones stop performing the song.

10.  “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love”

For their final black and white Sullivan appearance, the Stones perform their classic hit on May 2, 1965. Perhaps in an attempt to avoid further complaints about their unrefined image, The Stones don sports jackets and drummer Charlie Watts even wears a tie.   Throughout the performance, Jagger involves the crowd in the song, pointing and singing “I need you, you, you!”   The audience responds with shrieks and screams.

Kicking off tomorrow in Forgotten Hits is our EXCLUSIVE Interview with Andrew Solt of SOFA Entertainment.  In 1990, Andrew purchased the rights to the ENTIRE Ed Sullivan Video Library ... and he has been releasing more and more of this material on home video.  (Recent releases include not only this Rolling Stones collection but also recent collections spotlighting Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Temptations, a "Best Of Motown" compilation ... as well as individual sets spotlighting the complete performances of both The Beatles and Elvis Presley.

In addition, several OTHER compilation disks are available ... featuring The Rock And Roll Years, Comedy Highlights, the best of the "highbrow" arts (he calls it "The Classic Arts") ... and even a disk dedicated to Topo Gigio!!!

Complete information can be found here: