April 22 – When Costello Got On Frasier’s Nervosa

Yesterday we looked at one artist who acted up on Saturday Night Live and got banned from the show – Sinead O’Connor. Today, we look at the other one who did the same – Elvis Costello. Although his relationship with NBC apparently healed much better than Sinead’s seems to have. In fact, Costello was back on another NBC hit show, Frasier, this day in 2003.

Costello got in the network’s bad books back in 1977 when he famously played just a couple of seconds of the song he’d been told to play on SNL, “Less Than Zero” before he stopped, apologized saying “there’s no reason to do this song here” and kicked into another tune of his, “Radio Radio”. The show’s producer, Lorne Michaels and NBC itself were less than amused, especially since the song he did play knocked commercial radio – of which NBC was one of the leading owners in the U.S. They banned him from the show and in all likelihood from anything that would appear on the “Peacock network”.

Eventually the anger faded and as he transitioned from an artist seen as a slightly-threatening punk rocker to a respected song-crafter, he was invited back to SNL in 1989. One imagines the network was happier with his performance that time since as we fast forward to 2003, he made a guest appearance on one of its flagship shows, Frasier.

Although Frasier had won numerous Emmys and for much of its run been a ratings winner, by 2003, in its tenth season, it was running a bit dry. For the first time it was out of the top 20 in ratings and they were running short on catchy story ideas (now that Niles had married Daphne, as regular viewers will recall). So, nothing like a few high-profile guests to try to revive interest in a show! In this case, Elvis played “Ben” a, loud and not entirely terrific folk musician who is playing at the Cafe Nervosa, the show’s namesake star’s favorite quiet place to unwind. And of course, he can’t stand Ben. It didn’t do wonders for the ratings (about nine million tuned in, less than half what it was normally drawing two or three years prior) but it did give fans a chance to see Costello play the ’60s Australian novelty song “Tie Me Kangaroo Down.”

Appearing on the show wasn’t so unusual for Elvis. He’d dabbled in film and TV for much of his career, often playing himself (as on the Larry Sanders Show twice and in the movie Austin Powers, The Spy Who Shagged Me).


February 2 – Being Up Late Sounded Better 50 Years Ago

Two things were probably true if you were a cool kid 50 years ago. One, you’d not be up watching TV too late at night. Because most TV stations signed off – simply stopped running any shows – for the night by 1 AM at latest. And two, that if you were lucky, you noticed that changed on this very night in 1973, when the Midnight Special officially began.

The Midnight Special was a pretty revolutionary show therefore, because in most time zones it came on at 1 AM, following Johnny Carson’s late-night Tonight Show on NBC on Fridays. The show’s creator, Burt Sugarman, had the idea that lots of people were up late on Fridays, and Carson drew a huge audience. Why not capitalize on it and run another show afterwards? Especially one that would appeal to teenagers and college kids, most likely to be night owls? He pitched the network the idea of running a music-based show at that time, with various live acts playing. Oddly, despite the seeming soundness of the idea and the idea that they would have no competition at all on air in that timeslot, they didn’t like it. But they ran a one-off special, a sort of pilot, in the fall of ’72 and the reviews of that, coupled with Chevy signing on to sponsor the program, made them willing to give it a try. Tellingly, within months they were so impressed they added another post-Carson late show, Tomorrow, for the other four weeknights.

They got Johnny Rivers song of the same name to be the title theme song, and brought in none other than Wolfman Jack to do the voice-overs. While the idea of a nighttime TV show that had current music had been done before – American Bandstand, Soul Train, Britain’s Top of the Pops, etc – Midnight Special offered up a couple of then-unique things. It had on more rock performers than the competition, and more importantly, it generally had the artists playing live, not lip-synching. It also broke ground by at times running old film footage or early rock videos.

While the ’72 pilot had John Denver as a host and hadn’t quite found its form, the first official episode was hosted by Helen Reddy (who’d be the only full-time host for the show, in 1975-76; typically they had guest hosts changing from week to week.) She did three songs, including her recent #1 hit “I Am Woman”, and she was joined by the likes of Curtis Mayfield, who did “Superfly”, Ike & Tina Turner, the Byrds (who performed “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star”), Don McLean and even George Carlin, who did a standup routine. Throughout its run, it would periodically showcase up-and-coming comedians, including Carlin, Steve Martin, Andy Kaufman and Richard Pryor. The second episode, hosted by Johnny Rivers himself, had Wolfman Jack singing. Now that’s something you don’t see every day.

The show ran for an impressive 450 episodes, finally being canceled in spring 1981. It seemed to have lost some of its focus or edge by then; the last show was hosted by the network’s reality show Real People‘s hosts and had less music and more off-music features like an interview with actor Robert Ulrich. Then-president Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, hosted the penultimate episode. But in between, Midnight Special had some of the best, and most varied, musical performances on TV with a bevy of stars ranging from Dolly Parton (who actually hosted a 1978 episode) to Barry Manilow to Gordon Lightfoot to Kiss to Aerosmith to KC & the Sunshine Band to Elton John to Tom Petty to Marvin Gaye to Abba to the New York Dolls to Blondie to David Bowie in his final “Ziggy Stardust” persona appearance to Steely Dan to ELO, who were on it a record seven times , to… well, you get the idea.

Although doubtless there are bits of it lost to history, much of the show ‘s highlights are available, on several DVD releases including an 11-disc offering in 2014.

January 8 – Saturday Nights Were A ’60s Shindig

If you were going out for a fun Saturday night this night in 1966, it would have been worthwhile to stay in until at least 8 PM…because then you could have seen the final episode of Shindig on TV. And take in performances by The Kinks and The Who while doing so.

Shindig was a short-lived but star-packed American music show that ran on ABC between September 1964 and January ’66. However, it ran regularly without a summer break, unlike many shows, and never re-ran any of its 86 episodes. It was produced by Jack Good, who managed several musicians including Cliff Richard. He managed to sell ABC on the impact that rock and R&B music, and in particular the British Invasion, was having on the younger generation and that as such a weekly show showcasing the hottest acts would be a hit. They got Jimmy O’Neill to host it and ran it on Wednesday evenings. Initially it was a half hour show, then briefly they expanded it to a full hour, before eventually changing it to two half hour shows a week, on Thursdays and Saturdays (they’d decided the Wednesday slot wasn’t good because it was going up against The Beverly Hillbillies.) Although O’Neill and Good did a few comedy skits, the focus of the show was always the musical performances. And while it was shot in the U.S., because so much of what was hot was in Britain, they set up a stage in the Twickenham Studios in London, later famously used by the Beatles to rehearse for Let It Be and their rooftop concert. They recorded bits for the show there regularly, and thus American fans got to see some artists – notably The Who – before they even arrived in America. The Who actually played “My Generation” on it two months before it was released!

Through the less than two years it ran, it showcased a real “who’s who” of music stars of the day including …Aretha Franklin, the Four Tops, Temptations, Little Eva (the only known video recording of her doing “The Locomotion”), the Hollies, the Kinks, the Grass Roots, Mamas & the Papas, Moody Blues, Hank Williams Jr., Chubby Checker, Ray Charles and of course, The Rolling Stones and yes, The Beatles. What’s more they had a house band and dancers, the dancers choreographed by Toni Basil and the house band including Leon Russell, Larry Knetchel and Billy Preston!

Shindig also was probably responsible for NBC starting the similar Hullaballoo soon after.

Rhino put released the entire series on VHS in 1991, but it hasn’t been “officially” released on DVD. However, a quick internet search finds that it’s readily available from small labels and is labeled as “public domain.” However, being essentially homemade, one might wonder how good the quality would be. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a power-packed video collection of mid-’60s music, it might be the one to pick up.

November 13 – Those Two Together Again? What Is It, Groundhog Day?

Ten years after splitting up in public, twelve years after doing so in private, Sonny and Cher got back together to perform , on David Letterman’s show. The late night TV appearance this night in 1987 would be their final performance together . The pair had been among North America’s most popular performers in the ’70s, after kicking off a promising musical career in the ’60s. They had eight top 20 hits from 1965 to ’72, including their iconic #1 hit “I Got You Babe”, which is what they did on Letterman.

Their popularity both musically and on stage got them their own TV variety show in 1971, which ran under a couple of titles until 1977. By that time, the pair had divorced and Cher had married Gregg Allman; in between the show and the final performance she would divorce Allman and Sonny would also remarry then divorce. Their careers were going in quite different directions by 1987. Sonny had by and large stepped away from entertainment after their ’70s variety show (although he did have a few bit parts in TV shows like The Six Million Dollar Man and Love Boat) and was gearing up for a successful run at politics. By the next spring, he’d be mayor of Palm Springs, then go onto to work in federal politics before dying in a skiing accident in the ’90s. After a successful run as a solo musician in the ’70s, Cher had largely reinvented herself as an actress in the ’80s, with well-received roles in movies like Silkwood. At the time of the Letterman appearance, she was about to have her Academy Award-wining movie, Moonstruck, open and her major eponymous comeback album, with the song “I Found Someone” hitting the chart. A tragic skiing accident killed Bono in 1998, thereby ending any hope of another reunion for the Hollywood odd couple. At least it seemed like they were enjoying this appearance as much as the fans.

September 12 – People Went Bananas Over Monkees

Hey hey, here they came, right onto your TV screen… the Monkees Their TV show premiered on this night on NBC back in 1966. Although it only ran two seasons and 50-odd episodes, it was ground-breaking both in TV and music.

Seeing success the Beatles had with their “mockumentary” A Hard Day’s Night, producer Bob Rafelson realized there was strong potential to merge the visual with the sounds of the burgeoning rock scene. He came up with the concept of a sitcom about the daily lives of a fictitious, successful rock band who lived together (in a life full of amusing highjinks of course) that could have some music mixed in. The show of course paved the way for rock videos (of which the band would typically perform at least one, out of context of the show itself per episode) as well as “broke the Fourth Wall” by speaking directly at the camera and viewer…ground-breaking back then, four decades or more before it became a standard device on Modern Family and The Office. The resulting slapstick about a struggling band won an Emmy in ’67 for Best Comedy, beating out such stalwards as Andy Griffith and Bewitched. On the music scene, the band hastily thrown together (after the producer’s original idea of using up-and-coming Lovin’ Spoonful fell through) would go on to be the biggest-sellers of 1967, even ahead of the Beatles, and quickly throw out five platinum or better albums (in the U.S.) and a trio of #1 singles (“Last Train To Clarksville”, “I’m A Believer” and “Daydream Believer”). In Canada it was six, all in two years!

After the show’s cancelation, the Monkees continued to perform for several years and even began writing some of their own material. They scored a top 20, comeback hit in 1986 (“That Was Then, This Is Now”) and continued to tour semi-regularly even after Davy Jones death in 2012. However, the more recent passing away of Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith leave only Micky Dolenz standing and the band effectively retired.

January 31 – AMA-zing Answer To Awards Snub As Easy As ABC

Music Awards seemed like a bit of a bigger deal in years gone by. The Grammys, for instance, were not only a major music industry marker but a huge entertainment event back in the ’70s and ’80s. So what’s a poor TV network going to do when their competitor outbids them for that bonanza? Well, if you were ABC and it was the 1970s, you just start your own! Thus was born the American Music Awards. They were given out this night in both 1976 and ’77, the third and fourth AMAs.

ABC had shown the Grammys in 1971 and ’72. Although Nielsen didn’t publish exact ratings numbers for those years, a little later in the decade, the Grammys typically drew over 30 million viewers in the U.S., or about 40% of all those watching the telly on the particular night. So losing it was a bit of a blow to both the prestige and ad revenue for them. Thus they had the idea “if you can’t join ’em, beat ’em!” They had Dick Clark develop an alternate music awards show instead.

The first AMAs were in early 1974. Back then it was a two-hour broadcast with a relatively simple set of categories. They broke music down into “Pop/Rock”, “Soul/R&B” and “Country”, and gave out trophies for Best Male Artist, Best Female Artist, Best Group, Best Album and Best Song in each. As well, they rewarded one great with a “Merit Award”, essentially a lifetime achievement one. Although they don’t disclose the precise method used to pick winners through the first three decades (recently fans have been allowed to vote), it was picked by industry insiders largely influenced by sales totals. In recent years, they’ve expanded the awards greatly to include categories like “hip hop,” “inspirational” and “electronic/dance.”

By the third set of awards, this night 46 years back, they had the process down pat and were holding the awards in a glitzy affair in Santa Monica. Since it was TV-driven, they smartly had a popular musician who was comfortable in front of cameras host it – Glen Campbell both years. He actually would host for four-straight years, then again in 1982, making him the most-utilized host in the Awards history. In ’76 he was helped by Olivia Newton John and Aretha Franklin; in ’77 by Helen Reddy and Lou Rawls.

Now, it could easily be argued that by basing awards primarily on sales, artistic merit would be overlooked. That’s undoubtedly true, at least some of the time, but there is a sort of “give the people what they want” type of honesty to it also. That noted, the winners in the Bicentennial Year weren’t bad and were fairly representative of what people were listening to. It also showed the brief mid-’70s convergence between pop and country radio. To whit, John Denver was named both Country Male performer and Pop Male performer of the year, and Olivia Newton John snagged the Female trophy in both categories. Happily the winner of the Song of the Year award in both country and pop didn’t have to travel all that far to accept – it was the host, Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.” And co-host Olivia picked up a third award, for Pop Album of the Year with Have You Never Been Mellow? which beat out Elton John’s Greatest Hits and the Eagles’ One of These Nights. A little surprisingly, Tony Orlando & Dawn were the Group of the year. While Barry White and Aretha took the R&B male and female trophies, KC and the Sunshine Band took the song “”Get Down Tonight”) and band in that category. Perhaps the most interesting award of the night was classic songwriter Irving Berlin being given the lifetime Merit one.

The 1977 awards were of a similar nature, with Olivia Newton John taking the Best Female in pop once again. She was probably exceedingly happy she’d made the move across the Pacific from Australia to California by then! Elton John won the male in that category and Best Pop Song for “Don’t Go breaking My Heart” with Kiki Dee while the Eagles took the album award for their Greatest Hits. Curiously, Willie Nelson won best Country song for “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”. The song had been nominated the previous year but lost out to Glen. The Man in Black, Johnny Cash was given the Merit Award that year.

While it appears the AMAs never matched the Grammys in terms of TV ratings (last year’s drew four million viewers, but the Grammys themselves dropped to under nine million) they have done OK for ABC and become a reasonably respected part of the Music Biz and a flashy red carpet event for the paparazzi. By the way, if you’re counting, Taylor Swift has won the most of them – 34. As for the merit award, after giving them out to a variety of people including Berry Gordy (founder of Motown), promoter Bill Graham, and artists ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Billy Joel to Frank Sinatra, they seem to have run out of inspiration, last awarding one in 2016 to Sting.

January 29 – From Session Guitarist To TV Host In Two Or Three Songs

To borrow from the early-’70s hit, “When you’re hot, you’re hot.” And as the ’60s drew to a close, Glen Campbell was hot! The blonde Arkansas guitarist was increasingly popular as a musician and on this day in 1969 he got his own TV show, the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on CBS. That network saw the potential for photogenic musicians to crossover to TV clearly – two years later they gave Sonny and Cher a similar variety show, and before you know it every musical personality with…personality it would seem had their shot at the primetime spotlight. The Captain and Tennille and Starland Vocal Band owe a big thank you to Glen, it would seem!

Campbell was an obvious candidate for the treatment. He was good-looking, “very congenial” as IMDB put it and a rising star in music with great connections. He’d been a part of the legendary “Wrecking Crew” set of session musicians in L.A., which had added the instrumentation to a variety of ’60s hit singles ranging from “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone” by the Monkees to “Up, Up and Away” by the Fifth Dimension to Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” by the Beach Boys. He’d also had a solo career which was really starting to not only ramp up, but cross over from country (where he first got noticed) to the mainstream pop/AM radio markets. He’d won the Grammy for Album of the Year the year before, with By the Time I Get To Phoenix, had five straight #1 albums on the country charts and had recently had his first overall top 10 single with his cover of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman”. Soon he’d have his first #1 hit with another Jimmy Webb tune, “Galveston.”

Campbell had been asked to sit in for the Smothers Brothers on their comedy/variety show in the summer of ’68 and did so well CBS decided to give him his own weekly hour. In the then-popular “variety” show method, the shows mixed musical pieces from guests with short comedy skits, something now largely gone from primetime but carried on to this day with Saturday Night Live. For the first week, Campbell’s guests were appropriately enough, the Smothers’ Brothers and Bobbie Gentry. Gentry was obvious as he’d just recorded an album of duets with her which had gone gold in the U.S. and she was barely a year removed from topping the charts with “Ode to Billy Joe.” He’d famously have John Wayne on weeks later and hosted a great number of musical acts through the four-year run the show had. It was credited with starting Anne Murray’s career outside of Canada, he had Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Jerry Reed and Stevie Wonder among his musical guests and most ground-breaking for the time, The Beatles. Actually, the Fab Four weren’t real co-hosts, but the U.S. public did get to see videos they’d made for “Get Back” and “Don’t Let Me Down” for the very first time in April on Campbell’s show.

Of course, to go back to that Reed song, “When You’re Hot You’re Hot” one has to remember the next line… “When you’re not, you’re not.” By 1972, Glen Campbell was not. His musical career had stalled out, he’d perhaps run out of significant musical friends to have on and the public’s love of “rural TV” (as seen in shows like Hee Haw and Green Acres) had diminished. The Goodtime Hour which had been the 15th most-watched show on TV in its first season had plummeted in the ratings and was canceled in June 1972.

Although Glen would never quite hit those heights again, he did have a bit of a career renaissance a few years later with another chart-topper, “Rhinestone Cowboy”. Sadly he passed away in 2017 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease

December 19 – Don’t Stop Believin’ A Decades-old Song Can Be A Smash

One of the luckiest, and in quite a few people’s minds best, rock songs ever had a big day 40 years ago today. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey peaked at #9 on the Billboard charts on this day in 1981. The fact that it never got higher than that would come as a surprise to many given that it’s considered a rock classic and is one of the most played “recurrent” singles on radio year after year.

Don’t Stop Believin’” was the second single off Journey’s seventh studio album, Escape, the fourth with singer Steve Perry. The band was hitting their creative and commercial peak, with the album being their only U.S. #1 and their biggest-seller outside of their Greatest Hits compilation. Currently it’s 9X platinum in the U.S. and has topped 12 million sales worldwide.

The song was popular enough at home, no question about that. It spend 13 weeks in the top 40, but it might seem hard to believe now that the previous single, “Who’s Crying Now?” spent longer on the charts and had gotten to #4, making it the band’s biggest hit to that point. “Don’t Stop Believin’” did well in Canada as well, where the album went triple platinum, but was close to ignored elsewhere. In the UK, for instance, it crawled to #62. And while the California band had their diehard fans, they weren’t universally adored. Critics tended to lambast them regularly. Rolling Stone was not atypical at the time when it rated Escape just 2-stars, saying “Who’s Crying Now?” “does sound good” but otherwise the album was “less a testament to talent than to the times,” calling them “heavy metal lightweights”. They didn’t even mention “Don’t Stop Believin’” in their review.

Time was initially somewhat kind to Journey and the album. The love song “Open Arms” off it was a hit (getting to #2 in North America, it was the highest charting single for the band, who with 18 top 40 hits trail only ELO for most hit singles without a #1 hit)and by the end of the century, Classic Rock had listed it as the 22nd greatest album of all-time in their opinion.

The stroke of luck for Journey however, came in 2007. It was that David Chase was a fan of theirs, and the song in particular. Chase was a writer for, and producer of the HBO hit show The Sopranos, and he needed a song to close out the final scene of the final episode with. He chose this one.

He loved the song. “Musically (it) starts to build and build into something as it’s just about to release. And when you look at that scene, you get that feeling.” He especially liked the line “’He took the midnight train going anywhere’. I felt these two characters had taken the midnight train a long time ago. that is their life… the dark train.”

Millions tuned in to the finale, and its ambiguity ensured many more would discuss it for days to come and rewatch it, all the while taking in the sounds of Journey. It was the musical equivalent of a winning Powerball ticket for Steve Perry (who has a new Christmas album this year) and his by then ex-bandmates. The song was requested constantly on rock stations and it vaulted back up the charts, to #6 in the UK and #2 in Canada. By then, I-pods were a popular device and “Don’t Stop Believin’” began being added to them. By the millions. For a brief time, it was the most downloaded song ever, and it remains the biggest hit from the 20th Century on I-tunes. The song which had after some time earned the band a gold record for the sales of the 7” vinyl record, jumped to 5X platinum based on the millions of paid downloads.

I guess there’s a message in there. If at first you don’t succeed (or at least not as well as you had hoped) hang in there and “Don’t Stop Believin’”. Success could be just around the corner.

December 3 – Hula And Hoopla For Monkees First

A changing of the guard? That’s what it might have felt like on this night in 1966 in Honolulu. That was when The Monkees played their first live concert ever… only three months after the Beatles had, as it turned out, played their final ticketed show. And from all reports, it seemed like Monkee-mania was going to take over.

The Monkees were of course, originally just a TV show. The idea dated back to 1962, but was resurrected with interest after the Beatles did A Hard Day’s Night. People including Don Kirschner loved the idea of having a TV comedy following the wacky exploits of a rock band…even if it didn’t involve a real band. He offered the spot to The Lovin’ Spoonful, but they turned it down, so auditions were set to pick musician/actors to play the roles beside Davy Jones. Jones was a quite well-regarded actor by that time and had already been cast. Auditions in fall ’65 saw Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork picked to fill the spots. All had certain degrees of musical ability; none were proficient. The TV show premiered in Sep. ’66 and was a hit (it even won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy for its first season), as was their first album released almost simultaneously. Their first two singles, “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m A Believer” were both #1 hits. The public loved it…perhaps more than the band itself did.

The first album was mostly done with the Monkees singing to a band of session musicians, but the record company wanted “the fantasy”, so it was presented as just The Monkees. Mike Nesmith says he was furious at the time. “There’s no credit for the other musicians…you are now duping the public” he told the record company suits, to no avail. However, the four were hard-working and proud, and did their best to become better players. Which was good, because by year’s end, Columbia Records was determined to have them tour, despite TV exec Kirschner’s objections. That era began at the International Center Arena in Hawaii, 55 years ago.

Chip Douglas, who’d later produce their hit album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. was there to watch soon after. “I remember very well seeing the Monkees play live for the first time. It was in San Francisco, at the Cow Palace.” His reaction was “look at these kids, they’re going nuts!” and adds “I was quite impressed by the way they were playing on stage.” As for the initial Hawaiian show, a friend of the band, David Pearl was there, and was given five full pages in 16 magazine to report on it…full of excited headings like “Davy Does The Hula!”

He notes they began rehearsing at 8AM that day, and finally hit the stage around 9 at night. They wore “new black suits, white shirts and paisley ties” and were brought on stage in big boxes that looked like huge speakers. “The Monkees theme came bouncing out of the real speakers and two very big spotlights flashed down onto the stage as Davy, Peter, Micky and Mike burst out of their boxes” being received by a “deafening roar (from) a sell-out crowd of 8300…I could see all the guys faces light up.” They kicked into “Last Train to Clarksville,” the song they used to open the set which typically consisted of 16 songs. Most had Micky Dolenz front and center singing, but the others all got at least one turn at the mic – Nesmith on “You Just May Be The One” , Tork on “Your Auntie Grizelda” and Jones on “Forget that Girl” for instance. Pearl mentioned it was “almost unreal with the eternal popping of thousands of flash bulbs”, and adding the caution “whenever one of the guys would look up, or wave to a section of the crowd, that area would surge up like a wild wave in the ocean…there were moments when I really worried”. A sadly prophetic comment, given recent tragedies from surging crowds at a Houston hip-hop concert, and fans trying to get into a Who concert in Cincinnati, on this very day in 1979.

They took a few weeks off after Hawaii, but resumed the tour in Denver on December 26 and would play Memphis, Louisville, Winston-Salem, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati before year’s end then get back on stage on New Year’s Day in Nashville. They’d play live extensively for the next two years, getting more and more competent playing themselves.

Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz, the two remaining Monkees are currently back on the road with the Monkees “Farewell Tour.”

June 21 – Muskrats & TV Viewers Alike Loved These Two

Well, it did for nearly 40 years- keep ’em together that is. Talk about your beginner’s luck…Captain and Tennille hit it big with their first hit single, “Love Will Keep Us Together” which hit #1 on Billboard on this day in 1975. It would stay atop the chart for a month. It would be a #1 in Canada and Australia as well, and even be a hit in some Spanish markets in a Spanish-language version they did. It was the biggest-selling single of the year in the U.S. and Canada, and so, perhaps appropriately it won the Grammy for Record of the Year in 1976.

The song was written by Neil Sedaka, who also recorded it (to little acclaim) two years prior; if you listen carefully you hear her exclaim “Sedaka’s back” near the end of the song as a tip of the cap to Neil. The married couple who met when Daryl (“Captain”) was the touring keyboard player for the Beach Boys and he got Toni (Tennille) a gig as a backing singer, earning her the nickname of the “only Beach Girl.” It was also the start of a briefly-stellar career for the two keyboardists. By the end of the decade they’d racked up seven more top 20 hits including the… memorable… “Muskrat Love”, and briefly (in the tradition of that other singing couple, Sonny and Cher) their own TV variety show. That ran for the 1976-77 season on ABC, the story is they grew tired of the show before the network brass did and asked to be let out of the contract. They also got to play for President Ford who was entertaining the Queen at the White House; Ford liked them but the Queen was said to have fallen asleep!

Unfortunately love couldn’t keep them together forever. They divorced in 2014, but remained close. Daryl passed away two years back, apparently with Toni still by his side.