Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

FROM 0 TO 80 IN 30

It all started a couple of months ago when I was asked to speak at LA’s downtown Jonathan Club, a very old and prestigious men and women’s social club.

When my wife, Barbara, told her aunt my speech was titled, “The Life Of Lloyd Thaxton," her aunt said, “I hate to be blunt, but what’s so astounding about the life of Lloyd Thaxton?”

Blunt? Yes! But, a very good question.

I considered the invitation quite an honor, especially after I read the list of former speakers which included Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Richard Nixon. Wow! That previous list does make my life seem somewhat less than “astounding.”

I looked up some pictures of these great men just to see how I would compare. This painting of President Clinton was quite intimidating. He looked so … Presidential.

The picture of a young President Nixon shows a man of great … eh … potential. Oh, what stories he must have told.

I was beginning to get a little nervous. Do the words “So What” strike a familiar note?

You see, I had never really done a formal speech before. You know, like, sitting at a head table, being formally introduced, standing up, and walking to the dais to face some of LA’s top business executive men and women. The topic, “The Life Of Lloyd Thaxton” was their choice. What could they possibly be expecting?

I finally looked at a picture of Ronald Reagan. He, like me, was in show business, but he still managed to look presidential. Especially with that American flag draped all around him.

Then I looked at my picture.

No way. I'll never be able to pull this off. Then I looked again at Reagan.

I started to prepare my speech.

Fade to a few days before this momentous event. While sitting around during a break in the editing of my DVD at Research Video (CLICK HERE FOR THEIR WEBSITE), One of the younger editors asked me if I had ever done TV in the 50s. That question started an hour of Thaxton story telling. I discovered that I had experienced a lot of fascinating and funny behind-the-scenes stuff that was totally unknown to the majority of TV audiences.

It was on the way home that I had an epiphany. I realized that that little editing room bull session WAS my life and the telling of those stories was my speech. I was now ready to trot.

Being a breakfast affair, most of the club members had day jobs to go to, so they gave me thirty minutes.

I re-titled my speech: “The Life Of Lloyd Thaxton: 0 to 80 in 30 minutes.”

I really can’t prove whether or not the speech was a success, however last week I was invited to speak again. This time it was to a full house at the LA Rotary Club (LA5) lunch (can a dinner be far behind?). It was there that I realized most of the members of both clubs fell into the 49 to 60 year old category, which just so happens to be the average age of the Lloyd Thaxton Show fan base. They were highly successful men and women who unselfishly spent a lot of their time working with many different charity organizations. Yet, they all seemed so young and vital and refused to “act their age.” I am beginning to love my new career.

I don’t know whose quote this is, but it surely is a good one: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” I ask myself this question almost every day. It’s what helps keep me “Old Fogy” proof . I think it was at the Berlin Wall that President Reagan said "Ich Bin Ein Fogy"(but, don't quote me).

Along that vein, I recently received this email and picture from Larry Tamblyn of The Standells.

“Well, the reviews are in: The general consensus is that the Standell’s accapella rendition of the national anthem (in four part harmony), performed at Game 1 of the American League playoffs, was pretty damn good for a bunch of old rock & rollers.

"From left to right are all of the original Standells, Gary Lane, Dick Dodd, Tony Valentino, and me. The anthem came complete with a well-timed flyover by four F-16's, followed immediately by a performance of Dirty Water. Aside from performing before a wild crowd of 36,000, one of the biggest thrills was meeting the four pilots afterward (along with many pilots who just returned from active duty in Iraq). One of them looked young enough to be my grandson!”

The Standells were guests on The Lloyd Thaxton Show 45 years ago and here they are still bringing audiences to their feet.

I wonder how old these guys would be if they didn’t know how old they were?

Stay young.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


About a week ago I put nine pictures up for identification. These pictures were of guests I had on The Lloyd Thaxton Show and I had asked that my Mouse Cliquers write their answers in the comment section.

I started with the picture at the top of the page. I thought this was a tough one, but everyone got it right away (How? I’ll never know). Of all the pictures I have, this one is closest to my heart. It’s a picture of a club my mom and dad belonged to at their church in Toledo, Ohio (That’s the Collingwood Methodist Church in the background). All the people you see in the picture were close friends of my parents and I grew up knowing each and every one of them.

This particular day, they had asked the younger members of the group to bring their kids so they could be included in the picture. I was working that day at WSPD-TV and couldn’t attend. But, my mom wanted me to be in the picture. So, just before the photographer clicked the shutter, she whipped out a small photo of me and held it so I would be included in the photograph. Is that neat or what?

The picture of me was so small who would of thought it would ever be noticed. I discovered it only a few years ago myself. And, I did that, by using a magnifying glass. What a great mom I had. She just wouldn’t let me be excluded from the larger photograph. That’s my dad just above her to the right, partially hidden by the women with the hat.

And everybody who entered this (prizeless) contest got it. My mom would be so thrilled.

Everyone also got this one. Johnny Rivers. He had just finished performing “Secret Agent Man.” Johnny was a regular guest on the show and is a good friend. He shared my enthusiasm for Motorcycles and I spent many a night at the Whisky A-Go-Go on Sunset Boulevard, watching him rock the night away.

One of my other favorite guests (there were many) was Petula Clark. She was so uplifting (I didn’t have to wear lifts to stand next to her) and talented. Petula was presented with her Grammy that day for “I Know A Place,” right on the show. What an honor.

Bobby “Boris” Picket was on the show almost every Halloween performing his monster hit, “The Monster Mash.” What a fun person he was. His fans loved him.

Yes, this is, “The Real Don Steele” (without glasses). In my opinion, Don was the best radio DJ in his time. He once said of the 60s sound, “Look, you take the Motown sound and the British Invasion and you throw in Elvis and Roy Orbison, and you have a music mix that's hard to beat at any time or any place."

The picture is from a KHJ radio Top 30 promotion booklet. I had asked him on the show to identify Tina Delgodo (is ALIVE! … ALIVE!). He wouldn’t say. Don died in 1997 and he took the mystery with him. Not even his wife knew. Long live “The Real Don Steele.”

You are right. This is Bobby Vee. He had a lot of top 10 hits and was a wonderful guest.

More fun than a barrel of monkeys, is a stage full of Turtles. I always looked forward to, not only their talent, but also their sense of humor. A fan once said of me, “When I first started watching your show I thought you were making fun of Rock and Roll. Then I discovered you were making Rock and Roll fun.” The Turtles were a big part of that fun. They are still performing all across the country.

Finally, we have Little Anthony & The Imperials. “Little” was a key word to use with young artists of the 60s. Little Anthony, Little Richard, Little Stevie Wonder and others grew out of their names, but stayed on to keep their fans enthralled. Actually I was “Little Lloyd Thaxton,” but I never grew out of it.

OK, that’s it. Thanks to all who entered my … WAIT! WAIT!


Well, it seems #3 is still an unsolved mystery. When I found this picture in my files, it had “Martha and the Vandellas” written on it. However, forty years later, I’m just not too sure of that anymore.

Why? It is the only picture on the list that had so many different answers. The Toys, The Chiffons, The Cookies, Martha and the Vandellas, The Jaynettes, and Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans.

I’ve Googled pictures of all these groups and just can’t reach a conclusion. I even tried Wikipedia with no luck.

Martha, are you still out there? Any Vandellas around that can break this impasse? How about it, Jaynettes? Or, a Toy, perhaps? Cookies, anyone?

Stay tuned.