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'Midnight Special' Will Change Music Entertainment

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Believe it or not, there was a time when entertainment on TV wasn’t available 24 hours a day.Everything changed with Burt Sugarman’s music-oriented variety show midnight specialdebuted on August 19, 1972.

Until the early 70’s, it was standard practice for most TV stations to stop programming after midnight and not broadcast anything until the local news had rolled in the morning. ABC, CBS, and NBC, he had no shows on any of his three national networks after 1:00 a.m.

Sugarman, a television producer with a background in the music industry, thought he missed his chance. The last show that NBC aired on Friday night was The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carsonbecame immensely popular, garnering a large audience of people in their teens and twenties.

So why assume all these people went to bed on the Friday night just after Carson’s program ended? Why not create a show for a younger audience? Live music and Why not feature the occasional comedian or variety performer and see if it makes some money?

It was a great pitch, but NBC was unable to attend. So Sugarman did what any great promoter does and made a big bet. He bought airtime himself, convinced Chevrolet to sponsor him, and created a 90-minute pilot for his episode.

See John Denver and Cass Elliott in the ‘Midnight Special’ pilot

“The network felt that rock and roll people were all drugged and half didn’t show up,” Sugarman told Jason Price in 2014. Money,’ I said. “Now he has one more reason. This is the year of the vote, and we will make it a campaign show for young people.”

Between performances, Sugarman urged young people to register and reminded them that the voting age had recently been lowered to 18.

But the real appeal of the pilot was the fact that it featured live musical performances instead of the lip-synching that was common in many TV shows at the time.he called his show midnight special After an old American standard, I had Johnny Rivers record the song as his theme music.

He hired the famous DJ Wolfman Jack as announcer and convinced John Denver to be the guest host. He commissioned Andy He Kaufman for his set of comedies, Cass He signed musicians such as Elliott, Harry Chapin, The Everly Brothers, Waugh, Linda He Ronstadt, Argent and The Isley Brothers.

done. NBC saw the ratings, purchased the show, and moved it into regular production. The show always aired late at night until the early 80’s.

Watch Kiss in ‘The Midnight Special’

in the meantime, midnight special has become the premier television venue for bands wanting to perform live to bring their music to audiences across the country.

“At the time, the band would come to LA on Saturdays and lip-sync their hits. american bandstandDistributor Paul Braunstein later told Ed Robertson. midnight specialAt the time, it was the only opportunity for a network TV gig. They performed with live vocals. ”

During the show’s run, a huge number of bands gathered for the occasion. Wolfman Jack remained as announcer and often gave interviews after performances. midnight special It also featured many guest hosts (usually musicians) and ran the show between their own performances.

The huge list of acts who have appeared on the program include Chuck Berry, Blondie, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Tom Petty, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie and pretty much everyone in between. Comedians George Carlin, Steve Martin, and Richard Pryor also made appearances on the show, as did Monty Python. ELO made seven appearances, more than any other group.

Watch Prince perform on ‘Midnight Special’

live music performance aspects of midnight special It can actually be intimidating, especially for an act that was used to lip-syncing on TV.

“For a long time there were seven, eight or nine acts on the air that didn’t sing live,” Sugarman later told MTV’s Mark Goodman. “They said ‘I can’t’ or ‘I won’t do that’ but I didn’t wear it. Obviously I can’t name it. Half of it is still there.” was scared. That was it. ”

It was a magical show, bringing music to music-hungry audiences across the country. However, all good things must come to an end. The final episode aired on May 1, 1981. After NBC pulled the plug. The era of variety shows was coming to an end. midnight special It didn’t prove that there was a huge appetite for music that was broadcast on television day and night.

Of course, that new form of music was video. MTV Debuted on August 1, 1981, just three months later midnight special I closed the door.

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