Akron’s Chrissie Hynde appeared on the Gene Carroll Show in the early 70’s with her Akron-Kent based band JACK RABBIT before heading back off to England to eventually form The Pretenders.
Anyone who lived in northeast Ohio during the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s is more than likely well aware of the Gene Carroll Show, a local variety/talent show that aired from April 1948 until sometime in 1979. First known as the Giant Tiger Amateur Hour, Carroll (April 1897 – March 1972) quickly morphed it into the Gene Carroll Show that aired every Sunday at noon and featured, well, ‘talent’. Some good, a lot of them bad and some of them very, very bad. I can imagine the line of pushy wanna-be stage mothers hauling their next superstars to Cleveland for their big break.
I didn’t watch it too often, too many accordion players for my tastes, too many baton-twirling majorettes and too many five-year-old tap dancers trying to become the next Shirley Temple, but the show had its moments as it occasionally presented local and regional rock bands. Think of the Gene Carroll Show, which was a big hit on WEWS TV 5, as a forerunner of American Idol.
The show is noted, however, for the first ever television performance of the Cowsill brothers in 1960, a few years prior to the family becoming ‘The Cowsills’. Other notables who appeared included The Womack Brothers (Bobby Womack), U.S. Male, Jill Colucci who is a well-known songwriter, Candice Francisco, Canada’s The Crew Cuts and Jack Rabbit, an Akron-Kent area rock band featuring Chrissie Hynde prior to her return to England and eventual formation of The Pretenders.
Andrea Carroll (no relation to the host), who appeared semi-regularly on the show for about a decade, is now known as Andrea Hill, Ph.D., MFT. But during the 60’s, after a local release, she eventually landed recording contracts with labels like RCA, Epic and United Artists and toured with the likes of Stevie Wonder. She had several hits, especially locally, including Why Am I So Shy? That was recorded at age 16 with The Chiffons providing backing vocals.
I can vaguely remember one or two area bands from the Wayne County and Ashland County, Ohio appearing in the late 60’s and early 70’s but for the life of me I can’t remember the band names. I am almost positive one from Wooster appeared (Me & The Guys, maybe?).
Gene Carroll died in 1972 but WEWS standby star Don Webster, late of the popular Upbeat TV Show, took over as host and it stayed on the air until 1979.
Gene Carroll Show mainstay Andrea Carroll’s Big Top Records release in the early 60’s.