Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Saturtainment: The Midnight Special (1973)

As most of you doubtlessly know, once the clock strikes midnight, the calendar moves to the next day. To that end, it makes sense that we would get around to discussing one of the most influential music programs of the 70's.

The Midnight Special launched its weekly run in February 1973, six months after a politically themed pilot special aired, attempting to encourage young people to vote. The series, the brainchild of producer Burt Sugarman, gets its title from a folk song most commonly associated with 60's pop singer Johnny Rivers ("Secret Agent Man"). Initially, it aired from 1-2:30 am (ET), in back of The Tonight Show, but when Johnny Carson decided to trim his show from 90 minutes to its present 1 hour format, Midnight Special moved up to 12:30-2 am. Suffice it to say, I wasn't old enough to stay up that late back then, and by the time I finally was at an age where I could, the show was winding down.

You've probably seen the infomercial hawking a Guthy-Renker DVD release of the series' best performances, so you would get an idea about the show. Since I never saw the show, of course, I can't rate it fairly.

To give you an example of the quality of the acts appearing on the show, let's check out a 1975 appearance by the Bee Gees, with an intro by then-hostess Helen Reddy (who was the only one who had a regular gig, even if it did last a few months). Uploaded by Dean Wittke, here's "Nights on Broadway":

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