Yes, there were music videos before MTV, and we’ve had obviously live rock performances on TV since the dawn of the medium.
The Beatles performing on Ed Sullivan inspired innumerable kids to pick up instruments and start bands, and in the ’70’s there was The Midnight Special, Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert, Dick Clark’s In Concert, and The Old Grey Whistle Test in England.
So one day in my e-mail comes a message about Barry Richards, a DJ and concert promoter from Washington who had a local show with live bands, and the collection of his shows is now available in a DVD / CD package, The Barry Richards TV Collection.
The UHF Richards hosted included Turn-On, Groove-In, and The Barry Richards Show, and it’s being launched by Resurrection Productions, a new company that’s been started by my friend Dave Szulkin. (Szulkin also released grindhouse flicks through Grindhouse Releasing and Blue Underground, including Zombie and the first Evil Dead.)
Richards had the original rock innovators on the show like Little Richard and Fats Domino, blues legend Muddy Waters, ’60’s psychedelia like The Byrds, and acts as diverse as Alice Cooper, Captain Beefhart, Bob Seger, Richie Havens, Humble Pie, and more. (The audio CD also includes a Richards interview with The Beatles pre-Ed Sullivan).
Being a big fan of movies and music, I know the obsession that comes with tracking down a rare find and restoring it, and this project was no exception. As the press release for Barry Richards says, “Thought lost for decades, the master tapes of these amazing shows sat moldering in a garage,” until producer Eli Brown tracked them down, and went to work restoring them. ”I just knew this stuff was magic,” Brown says. “This was free-form TV,” said Richards, and he would mix the live music with old black and white movies, hippie comedy, and improv’d comedy skits.
These shows haven’t been seen in forty years, so they’ll be a wonderful buried treasure for the local fans that remember Barry’s show, and newcomers like myself who are dying to check it out.