Thursday, March 28, 2013

The T.A.M.I. Show

It was a landmark event in the history of All Things Rockin'. Don't just take my word for it, ask The United States Library Of Congress who deemed it "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in The National Film Registry. It was a movie in which a whole bunch of rockers got together to do what they do. It was The T.A.M.I. Show, and what a show it was.
The T.A.M.I. Show itself was a mind-numbing Woodstockian array of the biggest rock, pop and soul talent of the time, with a diversity unthought of in these modern days. Just look at the poster at the top of this post. The show was held on October 28th and 29th, 1964 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. And how much did it cost for admission to see 12 of the biggest record sellers on earth live? How about nothing! Zero dollars! Free! Yes, free tickets were distributed to local high school students.  Those were indeed the days.

The film was shot by director Steve Binder and his crew from The Steve Allen Show. It utilized a new (at the time) technique called Electronovision, a precursor to today's High Definition TV invented by technician Bill Sargent. It is considered a seminal event in the pioneering of music videos. The best footage from each of the two shows was edited into the film and released on December 29, 1964. Jan And Dean emceed the event and also performed. The music director was Jack Nitzsche.

James Brown was there...with The Famous Flames...and of course he blew everyone off the stage. This is merely a fact of life. It doesn't matter who you are, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Rolling Stones...if you share a bill with James you will be blown off the stage. No shame, it's just the way it is. Funny thing about the Stones is director Steve Binder persuaded the group to close the show, following Brown. Rolling Stone Keith Richards himself said it was a huge mistake, knowing that no matter how well they performed they could not top him.

The Supremes also appeared  and at the time they were the most successful female group in the world. Director Steve Binder would go on to work with Diana Ross on several of her TV specials. Numerous dancers appeared in the background and next to the acts. Among them were future stars Teri Garr and Toni Basil. The show was choreographed by David Winters who went on to do the same for the TV show Hullabaloo and the 1976 film version of A Star Is Born.
A lesser-known sequel to this film, The Big T.N.T. Show followed in 1966. Both were produced by executive producer Henry G. Saperstein.
The house band for the show was known as the Wrecking Crew and included the likes of  guitarists Glen Campbell and Tommy Tedesco, drummer Hal Blaine and pianist Leon Russell.

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