It's finally coming out! My book about growing up in the '60s will be released within weeks on Amazon! To get you in the mood, here's another installment. And check back later today. I will reveal for the first time -- the title and the cover!
1964, Woodland Hills
viewing: THE LLOYD THAXTON SHOW. Each afternoon from 5-6 Lloyd
Thaxton hosted a live dance party show on the cheapest cheesiest
independent station in LA – KCOP. 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.
This was appointment television for every teenager in Los Angeles.
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
had to do something VISUAL. So he would find ways to comically present
the songs. 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.
Music videos these days are all ambitious elaborate productions. Back
then we were quite content to watch a guy sing into his hand.
always wanted to be on his show but of course didn’t qualify because I
was still in Junior High. The indignities continue! However, I did
get to appear on NINTH STREET WEST.
With the success of THE LLOYD
THAXTON SHOW every local channel had their own dance party show. Over
the next few years there would be SHEBANG on Channel 5 with Casey Kasem,
SHIVAREE on Channel 7 with KFWB D.J. Gene Weed, and NINTH STREET WEST
on Channel 9 hosted by KFWB D.J. Sam Riddle. Stations hired the D.J.’s
with the best and most teeth.
I sent in requests to all of them
but only NINTH STREET WEST bit. Talk about a great date. Taking a girl
to a TV show and dinner at nearby Carolina Pine’s coffee shop in
Hollywood. Thanks again for driving, mom!
I asked my friend
Marcia. You always want to be seen on TV with someone hotter than you,
but not so hot that it screams “pity date”. Marcia was very cute yet
believable as my escort.
The show originated from the Channel 9
studios on Melrose Ave. The soundstage was nothing more than a one-car
garage (for a Kia maybe). About forty of us were jammed into this tiny
space. It’s hard to rock out with reckless abandon when at any moment
you could get an elbow in your eye.
There were three guests
scheduled to lip sync their songs. It was impossible to do them live.
One amplifier and ten dancers would be pinned against the wall. The
guests were the Beau Brummels (a group out of San Francisco), a very
young Marvin Gaye, and British imports Peter & Gordon.
were so crazed over the Beatles that they started buying records from
any group that came out of England. It’s the same principle where girls
who can’t sleep with rock stars wind up in bed with their roadies.
First it was the Dave Clark 5, and then the floodgates opened. Billy
J. Kramer and the Dakotas (who sang one of the creepiest songs EVER –
“Little Children”. The story of a guy threatening little children
because they caught him diddling their sister. Ugh!), Gerry & the
Pacemakers, Herman’s Hermits, the inane Freddy & the Dreamers (whose
entire act was to wear suits that didn’t fit and do jumping jacks), and
Peter & Gordon. The harder edged Rolling Stones, Animals, Who,
and Lulu would come a bit later.
During a commercial break they
set up for Marvin Gaye’s number. Surprisingly, he seemed incredibly
nervous. His hands were practically shaking. Hardly the super cool
image we’d come to expect. I assured him he was great and had nothing
to worry about. It must have meant a lot coming from a white kid in
his bar mitzvah suit. He gave me a quick smile, the red light went on
and he did his song. Afterwards when he was off camera he thanked me.
Not necessary but a lovely gesture.
The next day in school
Marcia was quite the celebrity. Everyone had seen her on NINTH STREET
WEST. Maybe two or three had seen me. I wanted to say, “Hey, screw
you, people. I’m the one who saved Marvin Gaye’s career!”