Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

VIVA LA DIFFERENCE


Before we begin, read this comment I recently received.

“Lloyd
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.”
Lucinda”

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.

6 Comments:

Blogger Gary said...

When I first saw the picture I thought the girl in the chair was Mary Weiss of the Shangri Las! As always, Lloyd, you were ahead of the game. Maybe those girls were the REAL "Go Go" girls of the time and the later Go Go's remember that clip and said "Hey, WE can do that....ONLY BETTER!"
Of course there were other girl instrumental groups back then, but how many actually made it on TV? The Pleasure Seekers (Suzi Quatro group) is one that sticks out in my mind. The Clingers are another one.
It's too bad, Lloyd, that more shows of yours don't exist, I think your show could be re-played as they were and still get high ratings. Well, even with what's left (I think you said 40 shows still exist) you could have them shown once a week for 40 weeks and then repeat them, that still wouldn't be a bad run!
I'd much rather see the whole shows anyway, than highlights, because I wouldn't want to miss a thing!
Gary

2:33 PM

 
Blogger Gaylel said...

I did not consider the Lloyd Thaxton Show as a dance show neither. It was more than a conventional dance show, but it was like where teenagers (And I work with pre-school children and where I work, we do this all the time with them) were encoraged to create and use their imagination, especially with your infamous "Finger people", which I do remember--And yes, as a little girl, I used my fingers--painted thumbs and all to sing to the records of the day.

I guess the reason why the show was successful was that it did not fit the dance show mold, but it was kinda like Don Franciso's Saturday Night variety show today when he has games and dancing and other segments.

I agree with Gary too and perhaps if an outlet such as VHI would replay your shows, it would be a ratings success. And a history lesson for these teens who don't know good televison these days..

--Gayle

8:40 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Lloyd ... re: your comments made in LA RADIO.

My friend you are getting old... as we all are... but the other side of the coin is that the kids (not all of them) are getting dummer. Just watch the Tonight Show segments called Jay Walking. Where the most common types of questions are asked and they are not answered. Hmmmmmmm As today's young person would say ... and you have to say this with the hard core slag that they use... "What up wit that?"

You're a classy guy ... don't trip on the fact that "WE" all have to get there... OLD! Enjoy the time we are given to wake up each morning and say: "HEY I MADE IT TO ANOTHER DAY! YAHOO!"

On the other topic... Robert W. .. Did you ever have a time in you life where your path crossed his?

Later
Robert V

9:35 AM

 
Blogger Lloyd Thaxton said...

To Robert V

We all get older. But that's good. Think of the alternative.

I knew Robert W. Morgan very well and never found him to be a difficult person. Of course, I never worked with him so, who knows?

Robert W actually had a TV show on KCOP for about a year. It went on just before my show. I remember him as being quite clever. I had never heard him on radio.

Lloyd

2:58 PM

 
Blogger Gaylel said...

Robert,

I'm glad you did not castigate all our young people--there are many who knows about their "Current Events", lol...

The title of Robert W. Morgan's show on KCOP was "Morgan's Alley" and I believed it was a children's show. From what I've heard from the Reel Radio web site (And many of his exhibits are online), he was a nice man to work with and he went "out of the box" doing radio specials and done announcing for various televison shows.

Lloyd, you're right about getting older. Could I borrow that quote?

--Gayle

8:49 PM

 
Anonymous Ken Salt Lake City said...

I loved the show! I remember Lloyd striking matches in time to that sound on "Stand By Me" (when the night,, screch). Also, the "mirror" dance was a hoot. Or using a greeting card to lip sync "I Got You Babe". I remember when Lloyd asked the Castaways if they had any other hits. When they said no he made them do "Liar, Liar" again. Now, if I could only remember what I had for dinner last night.

9:21 PM

 

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