Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Friday, February 03, 2006

MY NAME IS LLOYD THAXTON - SO WHAT

It’s one of those cool rockin’rollin’ afternoons in the 60’s. This day’s episode of The Lloyd Thaxton Show is about to end. My teen-aged guests gather around as I start the standard sign-off, “The name of the show is The Lloyd Thaxton Show and my name is Lloyd Thaxton.” Right on cue everybody in the studio shouts, “SO WHAT!”

Fast-forward 30-something years to an elevator at NBC Television in Burbank, California. I’m on my way up to my “Fight Back! With David Horowitz” office. A man, who would most likely call himself a Baby Boomer, looks over at me and says, “You’re Lloyd Thaxton, right?” When I answer yes, he says, “How does it feel to be a has-been?”

Huh?

Everyone in the elevator freezes. All eyes, that aren’t locked on the floor, embarrassingly turn to me. But it was all sighs and smiles when I quickly answer, “Better than being a never-been.” Comments from the packed elevator ranged from, “Boy, that was really telling him,” to “Are you really Lloyd Thaxton?” to “Who the hell is Lloyd Thaxton?”

True, it was a dumb question, however, it got me thinking. Was I really a “has-been?” And, if I was, how DID it feel? Never thought about it before, but here I was … thinking about it.

I had a popular TV show in the 60’s, but the show went off the air almost four decades ago (when you start counting in decades you know you’re in trouble). It was difficult for me to admit that some of the people in the elevator that day weren’t even born when the show was on the air. And what was worse, they looked old. So, by the strictest meaning of the word, I guess I am a has-been.

BUT, on the other hand, is that bad? Think about it. To be a “has-been” means you had to have been a “been” at some time in your life. And a “been” is what? A “been” is somebody who at one time, perhaps last week or even last year, was famous ... a celebrity… at least for a while anyway. More than 15 minutes, I would think. Is this better than being a never-been, as I so confidently answered in that elevator? Maybe that old fart asked the wrong question. It should have been, “What does it feel like to be a “BEEN?”

It’s just a matter of semantics. Let’s face it, I, at one time, was truly a popular “been.” Only a hermit wants to be a complete nobody. No one, at least no one I ever met, wants to go through life as a “never-been.”

The legendary comic Rodney Dangerfield’s tag line “I just don’t get no respect” sums it up. Everybody from the guy on the street with the sign, “I’ll work for food,” to the CEO of a large corporation wants a little respect. A little fame, if you will. At least “Fifteen minutes” worth as Andy Warhol put it.

Many of us have been “beens” at one time and should be proud of it. The employee of the week, the prom queen, the football hero, the high-school graduate, you are all “beens” and should hold your heads high. Celebrate your "been-ness" and be good examples for your peers.

Here’s how I look at it. I was damned lucky. I had much more than my 15 minutes of fame. And, to me, it was PERFECT. While it lasted it was wonderful, exciting and exhilarating. Who could ever imagine four decades later (there I go again, counting in decades), there would be fans still out there?

So Mousers, how DOES it feel to be a “BEEN?”

To be continued …

22 Comments:

Blogger BiLL Earl said...

Dear Lloyd,
That was SO RUDE to say that to you in the elevator. Us here who KNOW BETTER would have died for a chance to meet you!
I guess I had my "name" out there for a while as "The Official KRLA Historian" having written the 50-yr history book of "Radio Eleven-Ten", and in the 80s I got do cut some on-air tracks for KRLA as the "Official KRLA Historian", and was live-as-guest for several interviews on 1110. I try to downplay that now, as the call letters "K-R-L-A" belong to a conservative religious right-style station that I want NO association with! I think I'll only answer to the "Radio Eleven-Ten Historian"!..LOL
BiLL Earl
http://billearl.blogspot.com

6:04 PM

 
Blogger BiLL Earl said...

P.S.
Former Los Angels radio personality, TED QUILLIN, said it best...

"You can't make a comeback, unless you've been somewhere..."

6:16 AM

 
Blogger Gary said...

Personally, I've never been a "was" been so I guess I'll never be a "has" been........only a dreamer.
Gary

8:18 AM

 
Blogger THE ROCK RELIC said...

Chief,
Let's look at fax ... no, wait; no fax machine's available ... anyway, at facts: (1) You AIN'T a "has-been" .. you is a "is-BEING"! (sorry ... Kentucky, y'know ...) You've got the book, the look and the croo ... er, the guy in charge of the Mouse Clique, which keeps onnnnnnn grOWING!! AND you've got a successful book that's STILL HELPING a mess of folks! ANNNNNNNND you're comin' out with your CD, as well.
Shoot ... a HAS-been?? A "has-been" lays down what he/she DID, and does nothing else. THAT, my friend and co-Mouser, AIN'T the Lloyd Thaxton we all know and love ...

(2) Didja ever notice that the people who run their yap all the time negatively are the ones who are LEAST successful? That's what you ran into on the elevator ...

(3) The KRLA-headed guy said (and, Bill, it's true!) "You can't make a comeback unless you've been somewhere". Chief Cheeser, you're making a COMEBACK ... you been there, but you ain't gone for GOOD! A "has-been" NEVER makes a comeback!

"QUALITY never dies ... it only renews itself into a marketable, desirable interest for a new generation".

or something like that.

And YOU, my friend, are pure-tee QUALITY!!

1:10 PM

 
Blogger Lloyd Thaxton said...

HEY BILL EARL

You were a "been." Congratulations.
As the producer said in "The Producers," If you've got it, flaunt it!

Gary:

Think about it. There was some time in your life that you were a "been."

Be it!

And Chuck. This ain't about me. You're Great American Newspaper is a gas. Be proud. Rock and roll, Man.

I love you Ol' rock relic.

Lloyd

8:33 PM

 
Blogger Gary said...

You know what, Lloyd? I DID think about it and you are RIGHT! Several years back, I (and a friend) had a public access show on local cable tv. It was called "Let It Rock", after the Chuck Berry tune (it was even used as our theme song). We made fun of the music & music videos of the day (early 90s) and played old clips from the 50s and 60s. We called ourselves "Cousin Gary" and "Cousin Bob". We actually got stopped on the street a couple of times by viewers telling us how much they liked the show! "Hey Cousin Gar and Cousin Bob, do you have any old Yardbirds clips you can play?" Or...."Hey Cuz, how about a BATTLE OF THE BANDS show?" So on one show we had Bo Diddley VS Phil Collins.........needless to say, Bo won by a landslide! On another show we had The Rolling Stones (Brian Jones only) VS Depeche Mode. HA....guess who won THAT battle!? So you're right, Lloyd....I was a "been", and to this day there is one guy in a local band in town who STILL calls me COUSIN GARY. Ahhhh......so nice to be remembered.
Gary
http://captain-video123.blogspot.com

6:03 PM

 
Anonymous Tom Quigley said...

That guy in the elevator was probably thinking to himself after he got off at his floor "You know, I coulda been a "Been"... I shoulda been a "Been" ... I woulda been one of the all-time great "Beens!" as he reached his office only to find that he'd just "been" fired as a veepee of programming at NBC -- a job he held for a whole three seeks...

I watched your show when I was a kid growing up in Buffalo, NY and remember the lip syncs, the acts (Byrds, Sonny & Cher, Dovells, Shangri-Las, your own lip sync with Gene Pitney one day, and others too numerous to mention) and the neat feeling I got every day turning it on after the drudgery of school...

God Bless you and the Sixties, Lloyd! I can say I've "Been" there!

2:49 PM

 
Blogger BiLL Earl said...

I just remembered your "theme" from when you changed the format to a "college'-age audience in 1966...

Wasn't it "SO WHAT'S NEW" by the Tijuana Brass?

Any STORY, Lloyd, about the selection of THAT particular piece as your new 1966 "theme"?

How/Why THAT particular track?

(Good question, huh?)

BiLL Earl
http://billearl.blogspot.com

7:50 PM

 
Anonymous Paul said...

Great post Mr. Thaxton. Being a working actor for almost twenty years I am frequently amazed at how folks from other industries relate to ours. If you had been a successful Business Owner or a CEO instead of a TV Star, that individual wouldn't even think of making that comment. All the Best to You and Yours!

9:54 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was chosen for a photographic collage of images appearing prior to what seems to be a TV channel ID, or per chance, a news show, timing wise. When the camera was in my path, I chose to instantly: not duck, and reflect the honor and dignity Los Angeles raised me to believe quietly in existance. Its a good quiet, the older LA insight.
I never saw the image. It was revealed to me as fame by: honking cars, waving men, kissing men, opening doors by men, offerings of smiles, offerings of communication after a lifetime of rejection, space in all Starbucks lines; and those real neeto statements like,
"oh, its just her;"
"See, its just her"(when challenges)
"Look, her"
"she looks different as this/that"
"oh, she showed up"
"Oh my god I spoke"
"oh god, she spoke"
-you name it. In over 4 states at some point in the nineties. Even a cult grew where people would talk about sightings (ofme); and the concern of sound came from a hope, seemingly universal, to keep the peace. As if any functioning might stray from that original - peaceful - shared moment.
Incredulous as it seems, I still get the looks and such in some major cities over ten years later! The collage saved me from a stalker, a confused a crazed crack addict murderous teen from finding me, and gave an appeal to such community hope I felt blessed with
All and for All.
As I age, it seems a total disaster that I could never look that way, in that 2-4 seconds, ever again...just so we would be "Beens"

peace, emerald green & purple
"the unknown woman"

2:05 PM

 
Anonymous Mark Rosen said...

A QUESTION FOR LLOYD THAXTON: I have been trying since 1966 to find out the artist's name for a song you regularly played on your syndicated show. The was called "Loadin' Coal", and the version you played was nor, I'm pretty sure, the version by the Five Sounds. I thought I had finally tracked down a copy of the song only to have it not be the version I remember. Can you help??? Answer here or, better yet, write me at mark45rpm@aol.com . Mark Rosen / New Paltz,NY

7:53 AM

 
Blogger Lloyd Thaxton said...

ANSWERS:

To Bill Earl Re: Theme "So, What's New." Why did I pick that track by Herb Alpert? I did not pick that track. The Theme was written by Herb for the "new" show. My old theme for about five years was, "So What" by Bill Black. Now you can figure out why the title of the new theme was, "So, What's New."

Got a great story about that. I'll tell it in a future post.

MARK ROSEN ASKED:

What version of "Loadin' Coal" by the Five Sounds did you play on the show. Mark, I have no idea. I can't remember the song at all. Think age might have something to do with it?

TO ALL: Keep those questions coming.

4:25 PM

 
Blogger BiLL Earl said...

Dear Lloyd, Thank you for answering my question about "So what's New?"...

Your show was SO hot that someone like Herb Albert would create music JUST FOR YOU...

great story!!!

I think I'm almost OUT of questions, except for one loose end...

> Please sometime tell us just HOW did the Dawk becoming a character on your show.

Did it exist BEFORE your show?

Or created FOR your show?

I never saw one UNTIL your show.

Is there any anecdote behind the Lloyd Thaxton Show and The Dawk?


PS...

I figured out how to add LINKS to my blog so I put on a link for YOUR site on my NEW "re-named" blogsite NOW called "BOSS" COOL STUFF!

And, yes, The Dawk is pictured on two different postings there!

In your corner!
BiLL Earl
"BOSS" COOL STUFF!
http://billearl.blogspot.com

12:45 PM

 
Anonymous Jeff Foster said...

Dear Lloyd,
Your responce to the bitter "chump" in the elevator was perfect. I'm sure he knew it also !
Your show was fabulous. I always thought that Robt. W's show in the early 1970's, while fun to dance on, wasn't ever able to replace what you had in the 60's.

I'm glad that you are still creating and living life to the fullest, unlike some people in elevators.

Always a fan,
Jeff

11:33 AM

 
Blogger Lloyd Thaxton said...

Had a couple question re: The Dawk. The Dawk was oommishened by MCA, the LT Show syndicator, as something fans could buy. Because it was a protest doll, it was perfect to represent the 60s.

We decided to use it as a foil for my jokes. Tell a bad joke and the Dawk gets smacked, ala, Roadrunner.

Just signed a copy of a Dawk ad for a fan who was giving to her husband as a Valentine present. She had purchased it on eBay.

I still have the original Dawk that opened up each show. If you remember, it stood on a soapbox tapping its foot to the beat of the theme five days a week for over five years. Wonder what that would get on eBay.

Maybe I could retire.

Lloyd

1:54 PM

 
Anonymous Ken Wissmann said...

I watched the Lloyd Thaxton Show during '64-'65 TV season from a two-room newlywed apartment over a garage. I recall seeing Sonny and Cher for the first time (it might have been their first national TV exposure) and Blood, Sweat, and Tears with David Clayton Thomas. These might have been on the same show!
I've never run into anyone who recalls the Lloyd Thaxton Show but your work made an impression on me back then.
Happy to see you are still doing well.

3:43 AM

 
Anonymous Trees said...

Dear Mr. Thaxton:

I've not been able to get the comments of your elevator companion out of mind, since reading your post. You're retort, was so appropriate. Of course, I'd like to wash the guy's mouth out with soap & slap him up 'side the head - but I digress. I'd like to give you my definition of what a "has been" is.

Yes - you are a definite "has been". Absolutely, you and the antics on your show, "has been" a part of my heart and the fond memories I have of the '60's. And we sure need some fond memories of those tumultuous times, don't we?

So, in my heart, you are a huge, wonderful, funny, irreverent, "has been". You "has been" entertaining and providing much needed laughs over many years. In my book, you are an always been. Don't think I'll forget the good memories - ever.

Always better to be a "has been", than a never was. You are an inspiration, please keep bloggin'.

With love & respect,
Trees

8:10 AM

 
Blogger DrBear said...

Let me just add that I remember your show as well, so pay the elevator folks no mind. Heck, I remember you from "Everybody's Talking" and that was far more obscure than the Hop.

2:13 PM

 
Anonymous Mike Griffiths said...

Hi Lloyd,

Do you remember if the Fantastic Baggys ever appeared on your show? If so, what did they do, "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'" or something else? Or was it P. F. Sloan that appeared maybe?

Secondly, any chance that your shows still exist on film or video [not sure how they were shot] and do you think we will ever see the show released in a series of DVD box sets?

Cheers,
Mike Griffiths - mikegriffith6@yahoo.com

7:38 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LLOYD!--You're still alive and well. Great!! I'm pushing 60 and used to check you out in '65 on TV on CH 12 in the Southern Ma area. COOOL! Keep Rockin I remember the phone recording--"zero-zero-zero-zero-zero-"---ad infinitum!

7:02 PM

 
Anonymous rich rohr said...

I remember Lloyd Thaxton lip-synching to Summertime by Billy Stewart. If you've ever heard the song you know it is not an easy taks to lip-sync to. Great job. Your show was a bomb(in today's terms)

3:35 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lloyd! A has been means you have been !! I used to dance on your show in Los Angeles, Lloyd Thaxton's Hop. We would drive over after school and had the times of our lives. We all loved you.

My friends and I who still all know each other from that time period were talking about you the other day and I am so glad I found your blog.

Everytime I hear "Get Me To The Church On Time" I think of you lipsyncing. Not that it ruined the meaning of the song or anything, ha.

Keep up the good work, you are a true innovator.

4:53 PM

 

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