Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


They say roses are red and violets are purple
Sugar is sweet and so is maple surple
Well I'm the seventh out of seven sons
My pappy was a pistol
I'm a son of a gun.

In the above picture, Roger Miller is shown teaching me how to sing those whimsical lyrics from his hit song, “Dang Me.” Roger couldn’t lip sync very well and he said he would teach me to sing if I would teach him how to lip-sync. Roger never learned to lip-sync and I never learned to sing. He ended up singing the song live while I lip-synced along side: A rather bizarre act, even for The Lloyd Thaxton Show.

A month before Roger’s appearance, a record promoter had sent me a copy of “Dang Me” with a note, “You’ll love this song,” he wrote, “It’s so ‘Lloyd Thaxton.’” What he meant is that it would be a perfect song for me to lip-sync on the show. As I remember, I got the record about 2 in the afternoon, listened to it, and did my thing at 5 the very same afternoon. I couldn’t wait. The record promoter was right. It WAS perfect.

A short time later Roger was in town and I asked him to come on the show. It was like we had been friends all of our lives and this friendship kept growing over the following years. When my likeness was carved in wax and premiered at the Hollywood Wax Museum (I’ll tell you about that spooky experience in a later blog), Roger was there to perform and do the introductions. When he did his first starring gig at the prestigious Los Angeles Greek Theatre, I was there to introduce him. Roger personified the meaning in my oft-repeated statement, “Because of the Lloyd Thaxton Show, I met some wonderful people.” No matter how famous Roger got, he always returned to do my show. He never lost that warm “country boy” charm. That was because he really was a warm country boy.

One of my favorite stories was when Roger brought his band to the show to introduce “King of the Road.” This was his first TV appearance since writing and recording the song. In the middle of the first chorus he started hesitating. It was obvious that he had forgotten the (his own written) words. I walked in when Roger stopped singing altogether. Roger apologized and asked, “Can we start over?” I answered, “Roger, we are live.” He said, “LIVE? Like in ‘ON? RIGHT NOW?’” At that point the guys in the band started picking up from where he had stumbled and started singing the words themselves. Roger picked up the cue, and finished the song; to thunderous applause, I might add. Thunderous, that is, for a studio audience of only 30 teen-agers.

After the show a dejected Roger came up to me to apologize again. “I really ruined your show Lloyd.” “Are you kidding?” I answered. “It was the best thing that could have happened. You were great. Didn’t you hear that thunderous applause?”

I don’t think Roger ever believed what I was telling him. He was a perfectionist and truly felt he had let me down.

But if he was depressed that day, it certainly didn’t hold him back. This “country boy” went on to, not only write and record many more hits, he also won 11 Grammy Awards. If that wasn’t enough, he won a TONY for writing the score of the Broadway musical, “Big River - The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn.” I am so proud of him.

I only wish there was a happy ending to all this. Roger, a lifelong cigarette smoker died of lung and throat cancer in 1992 at the too young age of 56. In a TV interview, he once explained that he composed his songs from "bits and pieces" of ideas he wrote on scraps of paper. When asked what he did with the unused bits and pieces, he half-joked, "I smoke 'em!"

I’m mad at Roger. His doctor warned him that if he didn’t stop smoking, the node on his vocal chords could become cancerous and end his life. He didn’t stop and became the third smoking friend I’ve lost to throat and lung cancer. Enough is enough!

If I could ask Roger about this today, I’m sure he would look at me with that great big smile on his face, strum a chord or two on his harp, and sing out …

“Dang me, dang me
They oughta take a rope and hang me
High from the highest tree
Woman would you weep for me.”

Truly “a son of a gun.”

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 19, 2006


There’s an article written by Staff Writer Scott Collins in the June 19, 2006 addition of the Los Angeles Times.

The article is about Brooke Brodack, a 20-year old receptionist from Massachusetts who goes by the moniker, “Crazed Fan.” After posting her very funny video skits on, she got a call from the producer of NBC’s late-night show “Last Call.” It seems that “One of Brodack’s videos, “Crazed Numa Fan!!!!,” a wry takeoff on the Internet lip-syncing craze … has been viewed more than 1.4 million times since October.”

According to “Last Call” star Carson Daly, “Her directing, her use of music – it was very MTV to me.” The article goes on to say “Carson Daly Productions signed Brodack to an 18-month overall programming development deal.”


I’ve seen Brooke Brodack’s lip-sync act and agree it is very funny and creative. She deserves to get noticed. 1.4 million hits? You bet!

However, that is not what caught my attention. It was the words “The Internet lip-syncing craze” that got to me. It struck me that perhaps my time has arrived once again. There’s an old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” Well, I’m still going around and have no doubt whatsoever who started the lip-sync craze (MTV indeed!). Does the name Lloyd Thaxton strike a familiar note? My apologies to James Brown, but I am the Godfather of Lip-sync. The picture above was The Godfather lip-syncing “Cara Mia” by Jay and The Americans way back in 1965.

Think about this: I, Lloyd Thaxton, have a huge (HUGE!!!) advantage over all those 20-something lip-sync upstarts like Brooke Brodack. At my age, I don’t need to put on special makeup, funny helmets and outrageous costumes to appear silly.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


My heart sank a couple of days ago when I read Jerry Lewis had a minor heart attack. Though the report stated that Jerry is expected to fully recover, the notice reminded me of how seldom we speak kind words about a person until after they pass away and leave us.

In 1960, pre “Lloyd Thaxton Show,” I was hosting the show “Lloyd Thaxton’s Record Shop” on KCOP-TV in LA. Sometime during the first few months of the show, I got a letter from a fan. Now you have to understand, getting a fan letter at KCOP was somewhat of a rarity. At the time, the station didn’t have what you would call a “huge” viewing audience; especially for a show that went on at 11 in the morning. I was a staff announcer at the time and this show was what you might call a fill-an-hour-a-day TV show. There was no such thing as an “over-night” rating system, so receiving fan mail was worthy of some kind of celebration. A fan letter meant that at least one person was watching.

And, this fan letter was a doozie!

“Dear Lloyd:

It looks like you are never going to write to me, or my wife Patty, so I am writing you. I want you to know how much we enjoy the show. Keep up the good work.

Jerry Lewis



In 1960, Jerry Lewis was fresh off the highly successful Martin and Lewis comedy team and was at the apex of his own solo career. He was host of “The Jerry Lewis Show” on ABC and was an award winning feature film director. A new kid on the block like me getting a fan letter from Jerry Lewis was about as exciting as it gets. Man! JERRY LEWIS!

He even left a return address. And, I wrote him back. I got real brazen and asked if he would like to be a guest on the “Record Shop.” He immediately wrote back, “Anytime.”

And that was the beginning of a wonderful relationship. We really connected because Jerry started his own career doing a record lip-sync act in nightclubs. He would edit several records together and lip-sync female voices and then switch to male voices doing opera and country. It was a very physical act filled with Jerry Lewis prat-falls and body contortions. Very funny stuff. This, he told me, is what drew him to the crazy things that I was doing during my own record routines.

Jerry not only was a guest on my show many times (see picture), he was one of the reasons the show continued to climb in ratings; a ratings success that led to creation of “The Lloyd Thaxton Show.” I will be forever thankful.

Jerry even created a part for me in his movie, “The Patsy.” Many times during the shoot, he would drop into my dressing room for some long show business discussions. I will always appreciate the time he took to teach this new kid how to do good shtick.

About 12 years ago, my wife Barbara worked with Jerry on the movie “Funny Bones.” She never stops talking about how wonderful Jerry was to work with. If you haven’t seen “Funny Bones,” rent a copy and enjoy some great talent at work.

Because of the heart attack, Jerry had to cancel his scheduled return to the Las Vegas stage. I can only hope that he is up and jumping and back to work soon. So he can break a leg.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Before we begin, read this comment I recently received.

Just found your blog - Since I was a kid when I watched, I remember loving your show better than I remember what I saw. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I sure look forward to reading more.”

Read again what Lucinda is saying, “I remember loving your show better than I remember what I saw.”

I get a lot of comments that say basically what Lucinda is saying, i.e., “I used to watch all the 60s dance shows on television, but your show was somehow different.” “Somehow,” meaning that, “I just can’t put my finger on what made it different.”

I’m going to take another “trip down memory lane.” Hopefully it will help Lucinda remember what she saw. And, at the same time, explain how the show was “somehow” different.

First, I never considered my show a “dance show.” When asked, I always referred to it as “a popular-music show for young adults.” I certainly did do some “wild-and-crazy-guy” stuff, but that isn’t what really made the big difference. It was those “young adults;” those kids on the show that made the show special. And those “kids” were you boomers.

As Carson might have asked, “How different was it?”

I’ve googled with the best of them and I have never, EVER, found another television show that did the stuff we did – before, then, or since.

Most shows in the 60’s dance show genre were hosted by a popular radio DJ, who played records while teens danced and guest stars lip-synced their hits. That simple format does not describe “The Lloyd Thaxton Show.”

Take the name, “The Lloyd Thaxton Show” for instance. Who would ever name a pop-music show, “The Lloyd Thaxton Show?” Most 60’s teen-age shows had real cool names like “Shindig,” “Hullabaloo,” “Boss City,” or “Where The Action Is.” Alongside all these hip names, “The Lloyd Thaxton Show” sounds pretty square. But, that’s the point. We wanted to be different. We wanted the show to stand out from all the rest. We wanted it to be remembered 40 years later. And it worked, didn’t it? There’s a line in the Go Go’s hit song, “Beatnik Beach.”

“Join the fun and don't be a square
We'll lipsync a go-go
Just like the Lloyd Thaxton show yeah”

So, there you go … go.

When I was a kid, I went to a stage show that featured a band called “Phil Spitalny's All Girl Orchestra.” This was the first all girl orchestra. At the time, I was a Big Band fan (Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Stan Kenton, etc.) and I remember how weird it looked seeing all those women playing trombones and trumpets with huge puffy cheeks. At the time I was planning to become a drummer and seeing that lady pounding away on a huge set of drums actually made me smile.

Stop and scroll back to the picture at the beginning of this blog. It shows a four-girl musical band. (You can’t see the fourth girl playing the trombone because the band’s director (me) is blocking her view). Just name any other dance show host in the 60s that would form an all-girl band of his own to band-sync (?) to a record. Well, the proof is in the picture. They were so convincing, by the way, most people thought they were the show’s guest stars (GOTCHA!).

And, how about those "Lip-Sync Contests?" One contestant wrote recently he performed on and actually won one of our lip-sync contests. He wrote that his grandfather was watching the show at home and until the day his grandfather died, he always thought his grandson was a famous rock star. The Lloyd Thaxton Show presented the very first “American Idol.”

Ever drive up alongside a car filled with teen-agers and see them moving to the music they were listening to on their car radios? They were doing a “sit-down dance.” Because most teen-agers listened to music and did their dancing while driving, it was just logical for The Lloyd Thaxton Show to have a “Sit-down Dance Contest,” right? What other show did THAT?

We even had a musical gameshow segment, “Don’t Lose Your Marbles or You Are Off Your Rocker.” Three contestants sat on rocking chairs. Next to each chair was a long glass tube of huge colored plastic marbles (looked kind of like an oversized candy dispensing machine). A record would play and the first contestant to identify the song correctly kept his marbles, while the other two lost theirs (a marble dropped out on the floor for each wrong answer). The contestant who lost all the marbles was off his or her rocker. The one who had the most marbles at the end won. I’ll tell you how good these contestants were. Not one record played longer than three or four notes before it was identified. Usually it was named after the first note. With all those records being played in rapid fire order (about 20), the contestants buzzing and shouting out the answers, and all those marbles noisily dropping and rolling across the floor, it was … well … a “different” musical game show, to say the least.

But the height of all show silliness was the day we painted the fingers AND THE TOES of everyone in the studio with “finger people” faces and had them “finger-sync” the 100-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing, “HALLELUJAH!” Something I had always wanted to do. Hey! It was my show. Why not?

A fan recently wrote that when he first started watching the show, he thought we were making fun of Rock & Roll. But after watching for a while, he realized we were just making Rock & Roll fun.

I owe all that fun to you (baby boomers), who were the wonderful kids I had on the show. It was such a thrill each day to go into the studio and meet a new group, whose enthusiasm for what we were trying to do, made it all happen. I just hope that you all have this same enthusiasm today. If so, there is no way you can ever lose your marbles.

Viva La Difference.

Lucinda! Did any of this help you remember what you saw?

Stay Tuned.