Rock and Roll Revisited 12/23 – Shindig!

Shindig (noun) a large, lively party, especially one celebrating something.

By the Fall of 1964, the The British Invasion had transformed popular music and The ABC Television Network had a problem. About the same time that the Beatles burst onto the scene in 1963, ABC debuted Hootenanny, a “live” folk music program. That genre struggled against the press or Rock and Roll and by the fall of the following year, the network wanted a program that reflected the changing times. Shindig! was the answer. Initially a half hour program, the show evolved into a sixty minute presentation on Wednesday nights, morphing again into two thirty minute shows before its cancellation in January of 1966. Hosted by LA disc jockey and nightclub owner, Jimmy O’Neill, the show was an instant hit.

The Shindig! pilot program featured The Everly Brothers and The Righteous Brothers, with some later shows were taped in Britain to feature The Beatles and other  UK groups, including The Who, The Rolling Stones and Cilla Black. Among the stars of the day who performed on the program were Tina Turner, Lesley Gore, Bo Diddley,  Sonny and Cher, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, The Supremes and The Ronettes.  The Beach Boys appearance in December of 1964 (Video) would be the last recorded appearance with Brian Wilson for many years. Wilson suffered a nervous breakdown on December 23 of that year on a flight between L.A. to Houston, an event that lead to his retirement from touring.

NBC, not wanting to be left out of the game created the competing series Hullabaloo (Full Episode Video) which launched in January 1965. Syndicated alternatives to Shindig!,  Shivaree and Hollywood A Go-Go, soon followedAcross the pond, ITV was way ahead of the pack, launching Ready, Steady, Go! in August of 1963 for what would become a three year run. That program hit it’s height when The Beatles appeared on March 20, 1964, singing It Won’t Be Long, You Can’t Do That and their latest hit Can’t Buy Me Love.

Historic television moments on Shindig! included a March 1965 performance of The Loco-Motion by Little Eva, her only known video recording of the tune (Video). And the appearance of a group of backup singers for Barry McGuire of Eve of Destruction fame. They were given a solo shot to introduce California Dreamin (Video), an event which launched their career.

Robin Seymour

Local DJs were quick to see how presenting rock acts could be a career booster. Dick Clark‘s American Bandstand may be the most famous, but many local markets cloned their own versions. In Detroit, Robin Seymour was the ground-breaker. In partnership with Art Cervi, he created Swingin Time, a wildly popular program that aired on Windsor station CKLW from 1965-1968. (Full Episode Video)

Today in Rock History

1959 – The Drifters record This Magic Moment. It will peak at Number 16 on April 2, 1960. Eight years later, Jay and the Americans will release the most successful rendering of the Doc PomusMort Shuman composition. (Video)
1966 – The final show of BBC-TV’s “Ready Steady Go!” was aired with The Who as special guest.
1972 – John Lennon’s film “Imagine” premiered on national TV.
1974 – George Harrison released a holiday single “Ding Dong, Ding Dong” in the U.S.
1977 – Cat Stevens converted to Islam. He later changed his name to Yusuf Islam.

Today’s Birthdays:

1926 – Harold Dorman (“Mountain Of Love”) d.1988
1935 – Esther Phillips (“What A Difference A Day Makes”) d.1984
1939 – Johnny Kidd – lead singer for Johnny & The Pirates (“Shakin’ All Over”) d.1966
1940 – Jorma Kaukonen – lead guitarist for Jefferson Airplane (“Somebody To Love”)
1940 – Tim Hardin – songwriter (“If I Were A Carpenter – Reason To Believe”) d.1980
1940 – Eugene Record – lead singer of The Chi-Lites (“Have You Seen Her”) d.2005
1943 – Derek Smalls (Spinal Tap), 1943
1945 – Ron Bushy – drummer for Iron Butterfly (“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”)
1946 – Robbie Dupree (“Steal Away”)
1956 – Dave Murray – guitarist for Iron Maiden (“The Trooper”)

In celebration of Johnny Kidd’s birthday, let’s revisit 1960’s “Shakin’ All Over“. It was a huge hit in Europe, but it wasn’t until Chad Allan and the Expressions, later known as The Guess Who, charted in 1965 that it became a hit in Canada and the US.


Thanks for listening!




Scott Westerman
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit