In the mid-1950s, Dickie Goodman was a struggling song writer working with song publisher Bill Buchanan, when the two men came up with the idea of a fake radio program interrupted by a UFO attack (similar to the hoax Orson Welles broadcast of War of the Worlds), except in this case, the aliens spoke the language of rock 'n' roll. The result was Flying Saucer, Parts 1 and 2 on Luniverse Records, the first novelty break-in record and a forerunner to the modern mashup. [more inside]
"Maybe that's the purpose of television. You just turn it on and watch it whether you want to or not." - David Letterman
After getting his start as a DJ on Ball State's WAGO-FM, David Letterman spent most of the 1970s appearing in a lot of cheesy television, exhaustively chronicled here. Whether kayaking on the Battle of the Network Stars, appearing on an ill-fated variety show with Mary Tyler Moore, working as a panelist on The Love Experts, or hosting a game-show pilot for The Riddlers (part 1, 2, and 3), Letterman more than paid his dues. [more inside]
In August 1990, when Spin magazine was still an edgier cousin to Rolling Stone, it published a list of the 35 Greatest Moments in Rock 'n' Roll Television. [more inside]
In honor of the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, let's take a few moments to honor those Sesame Street humans overshadowed by their Muppet counterparts. Check out Bob (Bob McGrath) singing Danny Boy in Japanese on a 1966 broadcast of To Tell The Truth or singing a Japanese ballad. Watch Gordon (Roscoe Orman) as the big pimpin' title character in this original trailer for the film Willie Dynamite. See Maria (Sonia Manzano) as a lady trucker on B.J. & the Bear or getting menaced by Jeff Goldblum in the movie Death Wish. And Mr. Hooper (Will Lee) plays Pac-Man in an Atari commercial. Meanwhile, the Muppet stars of Sesame Street have gone some interesting evolutions as well in their career. [more inside]
Not all groups with synthesizers in the 1970s and 1980s were lame Top 40 acts with keytars. Some groups of the era used synths for spastic keyboard bleeps, herky-jerky tempos, and angst-ridden aggression in a style now classified by record collector geeks as synthpunk, minimal synth, or minimal wave. Several famous New Wave acts dabbled in the style before providing soundtracks for Molly Ringwald movies (OMD, Electricty) or singing about waitresses in cocktail bars (the Human League, Being Boiled), but vintage videos from synth punk acts all over the world can be found all over YouTube. [more inside]
That's Punksploitation!! Can punk rock episodes of old TV shows kill? Check out punk episodes from Quincy, CHiPs (Part 1 and Part 2), 21 Jump Street (Part 1 and Part 2), as well as the appearance of the Dickies on the Don Rickles sitcom, CPO Sharkey. Other prime vintage examples of media cluelessness on punk rock include a fashion show and a scaremongering Time magazine article, although a recent cookie commercial may revive the punksploitation genre.
Japanese leftists seize plane with samurai swords. AWOL Marine sets record by hijacking plane from Fresno to Rome. Female Palestinian hijacker becomes radical chic pin-up. D.B. Cooper parachutes from 727 with $200,000 in unmarked bills. Have airplane bombings made us nostalgic for old-school skyjackers who just wanted money or a trip to Cuba? Academic papers analyze skyjacking in the 60s & 70s according to contagion and rational choice models. Check out a prescient pre-9/11 documentary on the subject with great archival clips.