Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Lloyd Thaxton

Lloyd Thaxton just passed away. He was 81. He was a dear friend. I know some of this is taken from a recent post but I wanted to expand on it and give you a better picture of this extraordinary man and creative visionary.

For every teenager growing up in Los Angeles in the 60s, THE LLOYD THAXTON SHOW was appointment television. Each afternoon from 5-6 Lloyd Thaxton hosted a live dance party show on KCOP, channel 13. If his budget was more than $4.95 a show I’d be shocked.

His set consisted of four panels (probably cardboard) with musical notes drawn on them. Kids from local high schools were invited to dance on a soundstage the size of an elevator. He won his time slot daily, trouncing the competing news broadcasts.

What made the show special was Lloyd Thaxton. Most shows like this were hosted by disc jockeys. They were content to just introduce the records and step aside while the kids did the Twist, Jerk, Fly, Popeye, Monkey, Frug, Mash Potato, Locomotion, and whatever other inane dance was the rage that minute. Lloyd was the first to realize “this was TELEVISION”, you had to do something VISUAL. So he would find ways to comically present the songs, even with his paltry budget. This elf-looking redhead would lip sync, mime playing instruments, use finger puppets, don wigs, do duets with rubber masks, cut out the lips on an album cover and substitute his own – anything to make the songs fun. In many ways, Lloyd Thaxton was a local version of Ernie Kovacs, finding innovative new ways to use the new medium. For the most part he invented music videos. The only difference is music videos these days are all ambitious elaborate productions. Back then we were quite content to watch a guy sing into his hand.

Lloyd began syndicating his show and (with an inflated budget of $5.25) became a national sensation.

He also broke the color barrier. When he had James Brown as his guest a number of affiliates refused to air the segment. Lloyd promptly dropped them from his roster. Motown and R&B acts were guests frequently. Only then did other shows follow.

In later years Lloyd went behind the camera, producing such long running series as FIGHT BACK WITH DAVID HOROWITZ and segments for THE TODAY SHOW.

There is a “Best of the Lloyd Thaxton Show” DVD. It’s 90 minutes of inspired television. But it hasn’t been released because they’ve yet to secure clearances from all the artists, many of whom owe their careers to Lloyd and the exposure his show gave them. The last several years Lloyd also kept a blog where he shared many memories and photos.

His signature sign off was “My name is Lloyd Thaxton” followed by the kids shouting “So what?!” But we knew better. Lloyd Thaxton was a big part of our lives. We thank him and will fondly remember him always. That’s what.

36 comments:

SharoneRosen said...

I hadn't heard about his passing. Truly a 60's legend. My condolences to his family, friends, to you and to us all.

Cage Free Brown said...

the only t.v. shows I remember my Mom watching were Jack LaLane (in the mornings) and Lloyd Thaxton (in the afternoons)

there was something really fun and silly about the show that gave me fond memories that have lasted all these years.

in the late seventies I worked with a charming young man with quite a resemblance and the same surname. he was so charming that he walked nearly a quarter-mile with me (a pedestrian) before realizing that he wasn't getting a ride with me seeing as I had no car.

he would have gotten a ride if I had just for reminding me of the other Thaxton.

Pamela Jaye said...

completely off topic but nowhere else to post - re: sitcom room and what you had for breakfast - just remember, Jane Espenson posts what she had for lunch! (but apparently she hasn't eaten but once in weeks!)

I get the idea though. *on* topic is always better.

must remember to read your blog more. Saw the pilot of Cheers last night and thought of you (though I didn't see your name - or the end of the ep, come to think of it. I'm from Boston but I never liked Cheers and would rather watch Ally McBeal)

TheDennisMorganShow said...

LA Times writer, Dennis McLellen posted a video tribute to Lloyd
at 3:10 PM:

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-thaxton8-2008oct08,0,2214593.story

I fondly remember seeing Lloyd at
Weby's Bakery from time to time when I lived in Studio City.

My condolences...

Dennis

Paul said...

Hmm. This "Best of Lloyd Thaxton" DVD sounds like something that someone (*cough* you, Ken! *cough*) should post on YouTube.

cahwyguy said...

We must not forget that Lloyd also had a radio show on KABC. I remember listening to it for many many years.

Michael Hagerty said...

"Smile with your bottom teeth"...45 years later...I still remember. Rest in peace, Lloyd.

Brian Scully said...

I watched Lloyd Thaxton on WHYN-TV Channel 40 in Springfield, MASS. k have really clear memories of his shows because we had a S.A.C. Westover Air Force Base was stationed right next door in Chicopee and sometimes those big old B-52 Bombers would take off for Vietnam and fly over our houses during Lloyd's show. Sorry, just an odd memory of watching his program. He was great and he will be missed. They just seemed to stop making Lloyd Thaxton's after the 60's and it's a shame.

Bob said...

I think that's one of those shows they tried to copy in every market. I can think of a few different versions.

Now I think that's a concept that will never come back around.

Paul Duca said...

I feel sad...of course, I know more about Lloyd Thaxton the game show host. I have episodes of the two network shows he hosted, FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK and EVERYBODY'S TALKING (the latter featuring another man of L.A. radio as announcer--Wink Martindale)

Dave the Rave said...

Rock and Roll heaven is sadly filled with many marquee artists whom I often think I will get to see when it is my time to go.

Heaven now has the perfect host for the departed rock & roll artists as I am sure in the afterlife Lloyd Thaxton will find some way to re-create the excitement and fun that prevailed on the Lloyd Thaxton Show.

Lloyd was so well respected by the artists that performed on the Thaxton show. I had the opportunity of interviewing Lloyd for my radio show "Relics & Rarities" (archived at www.davetherave.com). When word got out that Lloyd was going to be a guest live on my show, top recording artists were calling me and asking if they could please be on my show because they wanted to speak with LLoyd Thaxton and express their love and appreciation for what all described as a dance show special and unique because of the warmth and sincerity of LLoyd Thaxton.

It was the outpouring of these recording stars that tipped me off in advance that I not only had scored an interview with a man that I had so much admired because of the music and laughter provided by the Thaxton show, but that I would be interviewing a person who was loved and revered by the stars that performed on his show.

Lloyd Thaxton was the best guest I ever had on my show. Lloyd was informative, funny, and filled the airwaves with warmth that you feel when you are speaking with someone that is just a nice guy.

In fact, what Lloyd and I had planned to be a 1 hour interview, lasted 3 hours because of the many artists that called in to talk with Lloyd and the incredible stories and events that unfolded on this show.

Lloyd Thaxton was truly one of a kind. I feel proud and honored to say that I was able to graduate from fan to friend of Lloyd Thaxton.

If I tell you that upon hearing the news that Lloyd had passed away
that I shed a few tears, it's okay if I hear you yell back at me "so what". After all, Lloyd understood when they yelled that at him and so will I.

Dave the Rave
www.davetherave.com

JanO said...

I worked with Lloydie in the 80s on Fight Back. His wacky imagination made the show a success and totally fun to be a part of. They paid me but I would have done it for nothing!
My greatest condolences to Barbara.
Jan Ostrom

Hugh Betcha said...

You are SO right. He was a local Ernie Kovacs and his show was must-see TV for all of us who were Southland teens in the 60s. I loved Lloyd Thaxton's work.

Birdie said...

I was really moved to tears to hear about LLoyd's passing today. My brother, Miles and I set our afternoon schedules to pivot around The LLoyd Thaxton Show in the 60's. My Thaxton-inspired lip syncing hand puppets got me a lot of laughs in school. Later, in the 70's my friend, Billy P. and I would zing each other with Thaxtonisms!! We've lost a true television pioneer, but Heaven has gained a lovable, zany show host fer sure!! So what indeed!!

Mike Barer said...

It was through your link that I caught up with Lloyd Thaxton where I watched groups like The Turtles, The Mamas And The Papas, and many great groups and singers perform. I can't express how said I am.

Mike Barer said...

I just wanted to expound on my last comment. I found Lloyd's blog through the link on Ken's. I remember Lloyd's TV show from the early 60s, I saw many of the classic acts for the first time.
Since LT was popular, many of his fans have probably lost to Viet Nam, the drug scene, and the pratfalls of the last 40 years. Perhaps now he can reconnect with them.

Anonymous said...

Todays kids don't know what we lost with Lloyd Thaxtons passing.
He was a true pied piper for us teens of the 60's. I was one of the lucky one's who got to be on "The Lloyd Thaxton" show and became somewhat of a celebrity at my high school after lip synching the Beatles tune Nowhere Man on the show. To this day, I still have the records I won for my performance that guy.
RIP Lloyd
George Price
Moreno Valley CA

Anonymous said...

I watched Lloyd Thaxton from it's inception.
I even showed up with an artist who would become my husband 30 years later! When I got there, my class was the school of the day!

daniel said...

I got into radio at age 14...because Lloyd Thaxton impressed me so much when i was a little year old kid...I know i'm not the only one who was influenced by Lloyd Thaxton...The world was made a more sunny...happy...and funny place because of him.

Alan Coil said...

Here are a couple links about Thaxton.

http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2008_10_07.html#015988

http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2008_10_09.html#015999

Mark Evanier, who wrote the articles, is a writer and amateur magician.

Alan Coil said...

Oopsie. Didn't realize they wouldn't fit. here they are again.

http://tinyurl.com/53szb4

http://tinyurl.com/4quxoh

And Mark Evanier is still a writer and amateur magician.

Anonymous said...

With Lloyd Thaxton's passing, a bit of my childhood is lost. I remember how much I looked forward to his show daily. It was Jack LaLaine for mom and Lloyd Thaxton for the kids in the afternoons. He was quite a character lip-syncing. Fond teen memories.

BIG ROB said...

Lloyd Thaxton, God Bless you my brother!

Grew up watching the show as a teen in the 1960's, loved the lip-synching and the music and the antics "The yellow rose of Texas"
piece was awesome. In early 80's I supported some of my college years by doing security work on Beverly Blvd for Producer George Schlatter's Editing Company
(Laugh In, Speak up America, Real People)and Ran into Mr. Lloyd Thaxton, I was thrilled to get his autograph and he gave a big smile and simply said Wow thanks for remembering! I will always remember, He was a creative maverick and yet a wholesome and lovable person. He will be sorely missed by the many of us who do remember

earl thompson said...

I was going to post a note to Lloyd's family and I see his blog is gone. Please forward this to them...

Just letting you know that you folks are in my thoughts and prayers. I know that it will be hard this holiday season with Lloyd gone.


earl

Steve said...

My dad was working for KCOP in the 60's, I was in high school and we would go over to LaBrea and go on the show.

My Lloyd rest in peace.

Steve Fischler

Rhonda Morris said...

When I talk nostalgically with my contemporaries about the "good old days", I always ask if they remember the Lloyd Thaxton Show?
How I loved the lip syncing (wouldn't be surprised if Lloyd coined this term) and the chair dancing bits! I was glued to the set every afternoon and whined like a banshee when my parents insisted on watching the news!
I learned to love mowtown and R&B, and Lloyd. I miss those times. Thanks, Lloyd!

Bobby D said...

I just read of Lloyd's passing. I NEVER missed his shows when I was a kid in 1965-66 on Ch. 48 in Philly. I sent him an e-mail 2 years ago after finally finding his blog site. I was shocked that he PERSONALLY responded. My sincerest condolences to his family. Lloyd,thanks for being a part of my adolescent years. Everytime I see someone lip synch, I always think of you. You were the best!

David Lee said...

Lloyd Thaxton was truly a 60's star. I have heard about him from many people. I did not know that he passed away. After his death, the world will miss a great entertainer.

Anonymous said...

sept09 recently Lloyd Thaxtons name came up at work and boy did I respond...at some time during his hour he started showing surfing footage and we couldn't wait to watch the show. Sad to hear about death. Fond memories

Dusty

Sirpops said...

Quite a legend. I became a DJ myself and used many techniques and got a lot of energetic ideas from LT.

Silly Willie said...

For me....hopelessly not in the "in crowd", watching Loyd Thaxton made me feel OK.

Steve Owen said...

There are reasons in the back of our minds for loving the times we grew up in...for me, one of those reasons was Lloyd Thaxton...
There will never be another like him...

Steve Owen

Craig Chambers said...

I met my wife on the show in 1963 and went on a few more times as a couple. We are still together after all these years and have good memories of the good times on the show.

Ralph Ives said...

I'm sure I recall seeing Stuff Smith and Carmen McRae and a few other really extraordinary and, for me at that time, exotic artists. He was a revelation, unique, curious afternoon companion.

Don J. Long said...

I fondly watched the Lloyd Thaxton Show on KCOP Channel 13 in Los Angeles when I was in high school in the early 1960s with my sister and brother, as we did Dick Clark's American Bandstand, and sometimes we would go to Hollywood and be on the show ourselves, dancing to the music and enjoying Lloyd's creative sense of humor. He always made us laugh. He was a natural comic, like Soupy Sales and Ernie Kovacs. I became a radio deejay myself in 1966, inspired by Lloyd, Gary Owens, Wolfman Jack, Dick Clark, and the radio jocks on KRLA, KFWB, and KHJ radio. It was a magical time to be growing up in America. Lloyd is very much missed! I loved watching his show. The Surf Rock band The Challengers were on the show a lot, and they did a record album in his honor with his picture on the cover, "Lloyd Thaxton Goes Surfing with The Challengers". His signature tune at the end of the show was their instrumental music titled "So What!". I loved that!

S.K. Nash said...

I lived in Lakewood in the 50's, then moved to San Diego in 1960 (so what?!)! I remember Lloyd Thaxton as a TV icon & a true gentleman. RIP