Back in the ancient times of the 1960’s one of the few venues available for many people to actually see rock bands in addition to listening was television. In addition to the various variety shows that would occasionally feature a rock band, there were several shows in the 1960’s that spotlighted rock and roll pretty much exclusively.
While American Bandstand was on for some time since the 1950’s, it was basically a show that played records to audience members dancing with usually only one, sometimes two, guest performers/bands. For many of us, myself in particular, you couldn’t beat the Upbeat Show, produced by WEWS in Cleveland that was eventually syndicated all over the country.
Several national network shows turned up not long after Upbeat, the three most well-known were Shindig, Hullabaloo and Where The Action Is.
Shindig debuted on September 16, 1964 on ABC and aired through January 8, 1966. It was produced by British television producer Jack Good and was broadcast on Wednesdays at 8:30. In July 1965 former Shindig director Dean Whitmore took over as producer.
In January 1965 the show went to one-hour episodes. Most of the performances were ‘live’, although there were some that were lip-synched or had pre-recorded backing tracks. On occasion, British bands appeared via video.
Shindig was hosted by Los Angeles disc-jockey Jimmy O’Neill. Also featured were the Shindig dancers, a troupe made up of 10 (or so) young women who performed choreographed dances. Shindig also had a group of performers who appeared on a semi-regular basis. These included The Righteous Brothers, Glen Campbell, Donna Loren and Bobby Sherman.
The series had a house band, the Shin-diggers/Shindogs featured a young Glen Campbell, Joey Cooper, Chuck Blackwell (drums), Billy Preston, James Burton, Delaney Bramlett, Larry Knechtel (on bass), Leon Russell (on piano), and Glen D. Hardin. Ray Pohlman was the show’s musical director and was also a member of the studio group that would be known as ‘The Wrecking Crew.
And like most all rock ‘n roll shows back then there was a group of show dancers who accompanied many of the artists who appeared. Dubbed the Shin-diggers, they were choreographed by David Winters. One of the regular dancers was Teri Garr. The Shin-diggers’ assistant choreographer, Antonia Basilotta (better known as Toni Basil), was most widely known for the 1980s song “Mickey”.
Among some of the bands and performers who appeared on Shindig were The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, The Everly Brothers, The Who, The Hollies, Mariann Faithful, Dave Clark Five, Yardbirds, Moody Blues, Gloria Jones, Pretty Things, Grass Roots, Searchers, Turtles, The Toys, The Newbeats, Joe Tex, The McCoys, Billy Preston an many others.
During the second season the show was aired in two 30-minute shows that aired on Thursdays and Saturdays with weekly guest hosts.
By the end of 1965 Shindig’s popularity began to wane, often blamed on the ever growing population of rock ‘n roll shows. Another factor affecting Shindig’s ratings had to have been time-shifting by local affiliates. Many ABC affiliates chose not to air Shindig in its regular Thursday/Saturday 7:30pm time slot (opting for syndicated or locally produced programs). These stations usually moved Shindig to non-prime time hours.
The show’s eventual cancellation was due to the network’s mid-season reshuffle. Shindig was replaced by a new show, Batman. There are some shows that survive and almost 20 years ago Rhino Records released a dozen Shindig VHS tapes.
NBC’s contribution to the exploding rock ‘n roll and youth demographic was Hullabaloo, a series that boasted a bigger budget and the top bands and performers of the era. The show debuted on January 12, 1965 with it’s last broadcast on August 29, 1966. The show was directed by Steve Binder and each week he featured a different guest host. Many of them were mainstream older performers but the bands that were featured were among the top acts.
The series was a one-hour broadcast that aired from 8:30 – 9:30 PM on Tuesday evenings. In June 1965 the show was moved to 10:00 PM.
Hullabaloo’s debut got an extra publicity boost by featuring The Beatles manager Brian Epstein in segments he hosted that were taped in England. Epstein was prominently spotlighted and hyped in the first 13 episodes.
Hullabaloo also had a troupe of dancers, usually sporting go-go boots and mini-skirts, and choreographed by David Winters, who selected and choreographed the Hullabaloo Dancers. Two of the dancers, Michael Bennett and Donna McKechnie, went on to achieve success and fame on Broadway. Lada St. Edmund was best known as the caged “go-go girl” dancer in the “Hullabaloo A-Go-Go” segment near the closing sequence.
Among the top bands & performers who appeared on Hullabaloo were The Zombies, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Marianne Faithfull, Marvin Gaye, The Everly Brothers, The Kinks, The Beau Brummels, The Searchers, The Moody Blues, Dusty Springfield, The Animals, Jay and the Americans, The Hollies, The Byrds, Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Gentrys, The Rolling Stones, Four Tops, The McCoys, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, The Outsiders, The Beatles (Taped Performance) and more.
In September the show was cut back to half hour status and aired on Monday at 7:30 PM until it was cancelled. The show that replaced it was The Monkees.
WHERE THE ACTION IS:
Famed television host & producer Dick Clark, already at the top of his game with American Bandstand, added a weekday show to his resume of productions and as another card on the rock ‘n roll television table. Where The Action Is aired nationally on ABC premiering on June 27, 1965 and was a black & white production that was filmed at various sunny locales throughout California, usually from beaches filled with teenagers and bikinis. Malibu Beach and Bear Mountain were most frequently utilized.
The show had semi-regulars, with Paul Revere & The Raiders chief among them, even as serving as de facto co-hosts and house band until midway through 1966, to be replaced by The Robbs. ABC eventually cancelled the show and it last aired on March 31, 1967.
A majority of the performances were lip synched, usually due to location and logistical issues, but some of the top bands and performers appeared in this Upbeat/American Bandstand hybrid.
Among the bands & performers who appeared were The Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Music Machine, Johnny Rivers, The Supremes, Jan & Dean, The Zombies, Jackie DeShannon, The Shangri-Las, James Brown & The Famous Flames, Sonny & Cher, Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, Sir Douglas Quintet, Jackie Wilson, Jr. Walker & the All Stars, The Kinks, Aretha Franklin, Donovan, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Ike & Tina Turner, The McCoys, Edwin Starr, Little Richard, Dusty Springfield, Gloria JonesSmokey Robinson & The Miracles, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, The Mamas & the Papas, The Yardbirds, Them, The Spencer Davis Group, The Who, The Outsiders, The Small Faces, The Spinners, The Cyrkle, Terry Knight and the Pack, The Left Banke, Buffalo Springfield and a couple dozen more.
Once ABC cancelled Where The Action Is and gave the time slot to local affiliates, Paul Revere and the Raiders along with lead vocalist Mark Lindsay hosted follow-up shows: Happening ’68, a Saturday afternoon follow-up to American Bandstand, and a weekday version of the same show, It’s Happening, from 1968 to 1969. Both shows were produced by Dick Clark Productions.
In 1973 and 1985, Where the Action Is returned to the air for two more very short series runs.
(c)2012 Doc Lehman/Bangagong!