Thursday, November 3, 2016

Bring Back My Midnight Special! (Wicked Cool Minute #2)

"Heeeere we are......In a room full of strangers......" - The Bee Gees (Nights on Broadway)

The hottest music performers in the 70's, The Bee Gees included, serenaded fans every Friday night. Donning bell bottoms, chest hair, sequins, crocheted halter tops, long dresses and unbleached toothy smiles. 
NBC's "The Midnight Special" was created by Burt Sugarman, a TV producer who approached the station with the idea, but was shot down. Instead of taking 'no' for an answer, Sugarman bought airtime, got Chevrolet to advertise, and he produced the instant hit without their assist. Oddly enough, the pilot aired August 19, 1972, and was intended to encourage young people to vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Whoa.
Upon the popularity of the program, NBC bought the program and aired it after Johnny Carson every Friday night.

"The Midnight Special" was old school. It was EVERY Friday night. And all you needed was a television.
Wolfman Jack
So you could tune in at the same time every week, watch the hottest acts of the day, in one spot, no pricey concert ticket, no parking hassle, no expensive beer (probably $2 each back in the day)....just pure indulgence. 
A nostalgic masterpiece that has been forgotten and replaced with edited, lip-synced videos which fail to reveal the raw, human factor that merits recall.

The program contained appearances by ELO, Rod Stewart, Ray Charles, Cass Elliott, The Bee Gees, Marvin Gaye, Little Richard, B.B. King, Heart, KISS, Prince, plus too many to name. The program also included comedians such as Steve Martin, Richard Pryor and Billy Crystal and Helen Reddy and Wolfman Jack frequently as guest hosts.

I became hooked on "The Midnight Special" and insisted on watching each week. Now...I had no business being up that late, mind you, but I managed talking my parents into letting me stay up to drool over the musicians.

I reached out to 70's superstar Janis Ian and asked for commentary on her memories of "The Midnight Special." The always gracious Ian replied "I always loved doing 'The Midnight Special.' They'd put together the most unlikely pairings to host - myself and The Babys, for instance - so much more interesting that the 'traditional' choices. The staff were A-1, you got to hang with new friends, play to a great audience, and all in all it was a wonderfully organic experience. I wish we had a show like this today."

So...where is that anticipation for music now? 
It's in the iTunes drops, downloads and internet live sessions, among thousands of other avenues. Enjoying a performance is not quite the same because, firstly, you have to have the technology - which is harder than you think. 
Secondly, you gotta know it's happening - (See point 1.)  I realize that it can be argued that pure performances can be captured much more efficiently with today's technology, and I do respect that.
Music lovers today are robbed of the anticipation of a weekly performance of today's hottest musicians such was "The Midnight Special."
You can't replace the feeling of comfort from a Friday night sleepover with friends and family, Mt. Dew, Totino's pizzas and a private concert on "The Midnight Special." 

Janis Ian's performance on "The Midnight Special" was magnificent in 1976:

Enjoy this video I love, featuring KISS in a "Midnight Special" episode. Drummer Peter Criss was always my favorite and sings lead on this (and it's not "Beth")

Thanks for reading the Wicked Cool Minute for the week...and Happy Voting!

Don't forget to use Recipe Records Cookbooks for recipe ideas for your holiday gatherings!

Peace & Love,

Lanea Stagg
twitter:  @reciperecords
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Evansville Local Authors
Indie Book Fair - United Way Giveback Event
Saturday, November 19 -- 10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
St. Paul's United Christian Church - Gymnasium
2227 W. Michigan St., Evansville, IN 47712


Lanea Stagg, Patricia Easley & Donna Hendricks
EVANSVILLE LOCAL AUTHORS -- A Special Children's Reading Night 
Willard Library - Monday, November 28 - 6:00 p.m.
Tell all your friends!  3 local children's authors will read; treats; crafts!  Register here: