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How gumption, stick-to-itiveness, and Neil Young got DEVO on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1978
08:57 am



Today marks the anniversary of DEVO’s 1978 appearance on Saturday Night Live, which really put the band on the mainstream’s radar and set them on the road to becoming, for better or worse, actual rock stars. The few years immediately after punk were an indulgent period in which to be trailblazers, and DEVO certainly benefitted from that audience shift towards openness to new ideas, but while SNL was known for taking some artistic chances with their musical bookings, DEVO were not initially of any interest at all to the show’s producer Lorne Michaels, and it took some maneuvering to get them on.


Ad found on DevoObsesso

Last summer, at a DEVO public art unveiling in the band’s hometown of Akron, OH, bassist Jerry Casale spoke frankly about the behind-the-scenes machinations that finally got them the slot on SNL that they had so coveted:

We had been sending videotapes to Saturday Night Live since 1976, after we did the Truth About De-Evolution ten minute movie, and we thought “Dan Aykroyd will get us on the show, John Belushi’ll get us on the show!” And we kept sending it with letters, and I’m sure it just went in a trash bin. These people were big time, and I’m sure they were thinking “Who ARE these weirdos?” So it was me not wanting to take no for an answer, and I just kept it up.

When we were interviewing managers, and we met Elliott Roberts, who was Neil Young’s manager, he said two good things—“I don’t want a piece of your publishing,” and “I don’t want you to sign a deal, we’ll shake hands and you give me 30 days notice when you say it’s over and I’ll give you the same.” I said “That’s great, but there’s one thing you gotta do! You have to get us on Saturday Night Live, and you have to make them let us show a piece of our movie.” And he goes “Oh my GOD.”

And he did it, because he dangled Neil Young as bait, saying “You’ll take these guys, Lorne—Lorne did NOT care about DEVO—and we’ll get you Neil Young. And then he dropped the bomb about the film, and that was almost a deal breaker. But it all worked out, and we went from playing in from 200-300 people a night to 3,000-5,000 people a night. We had to stop the tour and re-book it after Saturday Night Live.

The band’s association with Neil Young continued to bear fruit, notably in the form of the 1982 film Human Highway. But here’s that SNL appearance, introduced by the episode’s host, Fred Willard, and shared by PB user jwdoom.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Comedy trolling genius interviews Cheech & Chong, Zappa, Boy George and McCartney
09:07 am



Before Ali G, Borat and Keith Lemon, “Norman Gunston” was trolling celebrities with his bogus interviews for Australian television. Gunston was the madcap creation of actor-comedian Garry McDonald, who ambushed celebrities and probed them with his microphone and excruciatingly dumb questions.

Gunston made his first (brief) appearances on the Pythonesque Aunty Jack Show in 1972, before becoming the “legendary un-personality” on spin-off series Wollongong the Brave in 1974. With his shiny blue suit and his face covered with blood-spotted pieces of tissue paper, the beautifully observed Gunston was an instant hit.
Gunston excited to be probing a Beatle.
Over the years, Norman Gunston interviewed Paul and Linda McCartney, Cheech and Chong (who he mistakes as comedy duo Morecambe and Wise), and Lee Marvin (caught in a airport terminal). Sometimes the stars played along—like a flirtatious Karen Black or Frank Zappa, who happily jammed with the harmonica-playing Gunston, or Muhammed Ali who said to Gunston “I’m punchy, what’s your excuse?” 

Occasionally, the celebs didn’t know how to handle Gunston—like an eyeballing Elliott Gould, or a confused Warren Beatty, but their desperate responses only add to the comedy.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘All the Young Dudes’: The Ballad of Mott the Hoople
02:00 pm

Pop Culture


It was producer-cum-manager Guy Stevens who brought the disparate members of Mott the Hoople together and gave them their iconic name. The name was lifted from a pulp novel by Willard Manus which Stevens had read while in prison—it gave the band a certain outlaw image—a bit like Alex and his droogs in A Clockwork Orange. Stevens hoped Mott the Hoople would produce a new kind of rock ‘n’ roll—a hybrid of Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones—which he finalized by replacing original lead singer Stan Tippins with songwriter/session musician Ian Hunter and his leonine curls.

They may have looked like the heshers from your high school woodwork class (or “hod carriers in drag” as Queen’s Roger Taylor once famously quipped), but their seeming ordinariness belied the fact there was no one to equal Mott the Hoople as a live band or as pioneers in progressing the rock ‘n’ roll art form. They inspired an army of fans, many of whom (including Mick Jones of The Clash, who Guy Stevens would later produce) went on to form their own bands or write/work in the music industry. But their success onstage was never quite equaled by record sales. Added to which, they were eclectic as a band—guitarist Mick Ralphs was more aligned to blues and rock, while Hunter wrote in response to Steven’s often chaotic and contradictory demands, which meant their first three albums were very different to each other—rock, dark soul-searching songs and folk rock—and seemingly at odds with the exuberance of their stage shows. However a brilliant fourth album, Brain Capers (1971), focused the group into a new direction and won them a very important fan—David Bowie—who was to bring them a much needed hit.
After a dispiriting gig at converted gas station in Switzerland, where the audience just sat and gaped, Mott decided to call it a day. Returning to England, bassist Peter Overend Watts auditioned for Bowie’s band. Bowie hearing his favorite band had split offered Mott a song. Bowie first proferred “Suffragette City” which was knocked back, then “All the Young Dudes” which Hunter later claimed was the one that made the hairs rise on the back of his neck and everyone knew it was a hit. It was a song that perfectly captured what it was like to be young in the summer of 1972.

World tours, hit singles and three classic albums followed, but Mott’s success was all too short as keyboard player Verden Allen quit, then guitarist Ralphs left to form Bad Company, and eventually Hunter himself found the pressure way too much and left. Mott the Hoople became just “Mott” with Watts and drummer Dale “Buffin” Griffin being the only remaining original members—but they never had the same success. The creative magic Guy Stevens had seen in Mott’s original members was now sadly gone—a shame for they should have kept on together for another year or two or more. But tastes change, fans grow up, and the ride still goes on somewhere else.

With contributions from virtually all of the key players, The Ballad of Mott the Hoople tells the story of one the seventies best and most loved bands from their formation to their untimely demise.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The mining disaster that inspired Gerry Anderson’s ‘Thunderbirds’
11:54 am



One of those FAQs of writers, directors, producers is “Where do you get your ideas from?” which always sounds as if there is a magic ideas tree from which creatives can harvest the fruit when needs want. In truth, ideas come from the most unlikely of sources—from dreams to the sayings of some well-beloved aunt. When Gerry Anderson, the producer and director of the hit puppet shows as Supercar, Fireball XL5, and Stingray, was thinking up ideas for his next series, his imagination was captured by the tragic events of a mining disaster in Germany.

In October 1963, a discharge lake situated over the Lengede-Broistedt mine flooded the shafts and tunnels deep underground. 129 workers were trapped by the flood water. During the first few hours, 79 of the miners managed to escape by climbing ladders in the mine’s ventilation shafts, but there were still 50 miners unaccounted for. Just when the rescuers had almost given up hope of finding the missing miners, a metallic sound was heard tapping out a signal deep underground. A small bore hole was drilled and microphones lowered to communicate with those miners trapped more than 190 feet down. It was then decided the only way to rescue these men was to use a special drill, however, this drill was eight hours away in Bremen. While they waited for it to arrive, food, coffee and medical supplies were lowered to the men trapped far underground.
Painting of the ‘Wunder von Lengede’ by Helmuth Ellgaard.
The whole rescue operation was fraught with difficulties—the excavation of rescue shaft took two weeks, removing four-and-half feet of rubble every hour. The rescuers were battling time and the constant threat of the flood waters rising underground because of depressurization. The pressure had to be kept artificially high underground, and a specially designed “bullet-shaped” decompression chamber was built which enabled the rescuers to bring men singly to the surface.  In total eleven men were eventually rescued by November 7, 1963—nineteen had died in the initial explosion and ten from wounds while awaiting rescue.

The “miracle of Lengede” was carried in newspapers and television reports across the world. Among those gripped by the rescue story was Gerry Anderson, who saw in it the idea for his next television production Thunderbirds. Anderson devised the idea of a team of international rescuers, who traveled across the world rescuing those in peril of major disasters. So, was born the Tracy family and International Rescue—F.A.B.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Horror roundtable discussion with masters Stephen King, George Romero, Ira Levin, and Peter Straub
12:43 pm



Shout Factory TV has given us an early Halloween treat by posting a twenty-five-year-old roundtable discussion from The Dick Cavett Show with Stephen King, George Romero, Ira Levin, and Peter Straub.

The discussion, in two parts, was originally broadcast on October 16 and 17 in 1980, shortly before Stephen King and George Romero began collaborative work on the film Creepshow.

King at that point was “the best-selling author in the world.” Romero’s greatest successes to that date were with Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Peter Straub’s major accomplishment up to that point was Ghost Story, which would be adapted into a motion picture the following year. Ira Levin represented the old guard on the panel, having written Rosemary’s Baby in 1967 and The Stepford Wives in 1972.

Ira Levin
The fascinating discussion takes place over two separate 30-minute programs. Personally, I could have watched another two hours of these guys talking about their work and inspirations. If you are a fan of any of these individuals, or the horror genre in general, the conversation is crucial.

The panel analyzes the appeal of horror, which Stephen King describes as a healthy way of exorcising the dark emotions of fear, aggressiveness, anger, and sadism in a harmless way. He calls it a way of “blowing off anxieties and bad feelings.” According to King, “You seek out the things that [as a child] scared you the most and you try to get rid of them.” Romero states that the success of horror is based on the ability to induce involuntary responses in the audience.

Much more horror talk after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
David Lee Roth awesomely botches a TV interview with a rambling story about the Screamers
10:32 am



In 1985, a possibly (probably?—it was the ‘80s) high David Lee Roth misunderstood a question, blowing two and a half minutes of his network TV airtime on a rambling story about a cult LA punk singer. The Nielsen families may have had no idea what he was talking about, but for fans of the seminal LA synth-punk band, the Screamers, it was an unexpected treat.

David Lee Roth appeared on Late Night With David Letterman on January 2, 1985, promoting his then upcoming solo EP, Crazy From the Heat

During the course of the segment, Letterman asks Roth standard scripted questions which are typically revealed to the guests by show staff during a pre-interview. Early in the conversation, Roth expounds on directing videos, his system and code for identifying the most fuckable groupies (“red right, red t-shirt, out of sight, six feet back”), and the future of Van Halen (at this point he believed he’d be going back into the studio to record a follow-up to 1984.)

Things get interesting when Letterman asks about a “club” Roth belongs to. Letterman is prompting Roth to open up about “the Jungle Studs,” a group of adventurers Roth hung around with in the 80’s, making extreme sport-style expeditions to places like Nepal and the Amazon. Diamond Dave epically misses the prompt and instead launches into a story about an after-hours LA bar and an artist named “Ta-mata.”

Roth is probably referencing Zero One Gallery, an after-hours bar and art-space on Melrose, which was considered by glitterati of the day to be LA’s lowbrow answer to Warhol’s Factory.

He’s also unquestionably talking about Tomata du Plenty, lead singer of massively influential LA punk band, the Screamers

Despite remaining unsigned and never recording a proper album, the Screamers were one of the top-drawing LA club acts between 1977 and 1981. Unfortunately breaking up just before the dawn of MTV, the band was determined to record their first album as a video-only release. Sadly they dissolved before seeing that project through to fruition.

Tomata du Plenty’s post-Screamers art career began in 1983 with a one-man exhibition of watercolor portraits at the Zero One Gallery, and apparently—as evidenced in this interview—David Lee Roth was a massive fan.

Sadly, Tomata died of cancer in 2000 at the age of 52.
It’s fascinating to watch David Lee Roth blow (cocaine pun intended) over two and a half minutes of his network television screentime on a rambling anecdote about the Screamers frontman hanging art in a bar, and if you’re a fan of the Screamers (which you should be), then it’s an interesting bit of punk art history related to their brilliant lead singer.

Here’s an excerpt of Roth’s interview on Letterman:

And here’s “Ta-mata” before he was one of David Lee Roth’s favorite artists, performing live with the Screamers:

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
A gallery of the paintings from Rod Serling’s ‘Night Gallery’
09:21 am



“Something in the Woodwork”—click image for larger version
When it comes to innovators who have managed to push the medium of television to its absolute limits, the name Rod Serling has to top the list. In his groundbreaking series The Twilight Zone, he used his own original stories (as well as adaptations of works by some of the most imaginative writers in history) to teach simple moral truths by wrapping them up and disguising them in the various cloaks of fantasy, science fiction and horror. You might think you were merely watching a science fiction story, when, in fact, Rod Serling was busy teaching you how to be a more decent human being. The disguise made the truths somehow more interesting and easy to digest, but make no mistake, The Twilight Zone was teaching important lessons about topics as diverse as war, racism, xenophobia, and even standards of beauty.

Night Gallery, Rod Serling’s follow up to the highly successful Twilight Zone series, only lasted for three seasons before imploding under the pressure of internal conflicts. It seems that in a complete lapse of sanity, Jack Laird, the show’s producer, forgot a fundamental maxim of making great television: allow Rod Serling to do whatever he wants to do. Nevertheless, the show managed to squeak out a run on NBC from 1970-72.

The premise of Night Gallery centered around Serling as the curator of a Museum of the Macabre, and he would introduce the shows various segments with a piece of art that represented the basic story on canvas. These stories still mined the areas of fantasy, science fiction and horror which Serling knew so well—again utilizing his own original teleplays as well as adapting works by such writers as H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, and Robert A. Heinlein for the small screen—but at an hour’s running time, the show could present multiple segments, some of the more whimsical segments clocking in at under five minutes.

Unfortunately, the show was severely butchered for syndication. It was trimmed down from an hour to a mere thirty minutes, and many of the original segments suffered as a result. Longer pieces had to be edited down to fit, and shorter pieces had to be expanded to fill time. Also, the syndication package damaged the Night Gallery franchise further by coupling the original Night Gallery segments with an inferior show starring Gary Collins called The Sixth Sense and presenting them under the Night Gallery banner. Rest assured; they are not even close to being Night Gallery episodes. The Sixth Sense, too, was originally an hour in length, but it featured a single storyline each week. Editing these awful hour-long shows down to thirty minutes proved to be an example of how presenting less of something horrible can sometimes result in something even worse. Many episodes became downright incoherent.

The three works of art used in the pilot episode of Night Gallery were painted by Jaroslav “Jerry” Gebr, who was later brought back to paint the works used to introduce the episodes of The Sixth Sense that were combined with Night Gallery in syndication. The rest of the paintings for the Night Gallery series proper were done by Tom Wright, who currently works as a TV director (The X-Files, Millennium, The Wire, NCIS).

After Night Gallery was cancelled, many of the artworks used to introduce the stories were either altered for use in other productions, or sold by Universal Studios. Most of them remain in private hands, but occasionally, one will surface at an auction house. Surprisingly, there have been known cases of forgeries of some of these paintings. In December of 2002, two forgeries were offered in an online auction from Sotheby’s through eBay. One of the forgeries was pulled before the auction began, but the fact that forgeries even exist, and that people are willing to risk purchasing one serves as proof that these iconic paintings still generate public interest.

Well, just like in an episode of The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery, your wishes have come true. Now, you can study these paintings online at your leisure. The Night Gallery website has recently published the original pieces used in the series (excluding the pieces that accompanied episodes of The Sixth Sense in syndication, of course). You can now gaze and marvel at these incredible works of art in-between watching episodes of Night Gallery online at

These paintings REALLY creeped me out as a kid. Somehow, they aren’t quite as pants-shittingly scary as an adult viewing them on a crystal clear office monitor instead of as a kid absorbing them through a staticky 26-inch cathode-ray-tube in a darkened room, but they’re still fascinating works. All of them are available for viewing on the Night Gallery site, but here’s a small day gallery of the best works.

You can click on the image to see a larger version.

“The Cemetery”

“Eyes” (Joan Crawford, obviously)
The ‘Night Gallery’ gallery continues, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Life’s been good, sure, but how HIGH, exactly, is Joe Walsh in this TV performance?
09:54 am



Just how high is Joe Walsh? That is the question we’ll be addressing in this bizarre performance from a late ‘80s TV program.

There’s no doubt that life’s been good to Joe Walsh. The critically acclaimed guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter has been a member of at least five successful rock bands over the past 40+ years of his lucrative musical career. In between the bookending of his popular work that began with James Gang in the late sixties, and continuing on through his ostensibly neverending association with that monster cash machine known as The Eagles, whom he joined in 1975 and is still going strong—thanks mainly to an endless parade of “farewell” reunion tours, each of which is inexplicably followed up by yet another incredibly lucrative farewell tour (Apparently, The Eagles are a band that simply loves long goodbyes)—Walsh has also managed to find time to release a total of twelve solo albums on the side.

Joe Walsh scored a major Top 40 hit in 1978 with his solo song “Life’s Been Good.” It’s essentially a song wherein Joe recites a laundry list of how much more awesome his life is than yours. He describes the endless money, the cars, the mansions, the chicks, the debauchery, and all of the rest of the trappings of rock superstardom that most of us can merely imagine. I suppose we’re supposed to live vicariously through him, but the actual truth is that the song is one long brag fest that some might find irritating. We get it, Joe. You’re very successful, and we’re not.

Well, a complete decade after the song “Life’s Been Good” was a major hit, Joe Walsh agreed to appear on a TV show called Sunday Night in 1988. It was broadcast on NBC on (you guessed it) Sunday nights.

On this particular show, the host, (a very young) David Sanborn, introduces Walsh at the beginning of this train-wreck of a clip. It’s immediately obvious that something is wrong with the musician. He seems confused and disoriented, but luckily, he has the late, great Hiram Bullock—guitarist for the Sunday Night house band, and best known to many for his tenure as the guitarist for “The Worlds Most Dangerous Band”  on Late Night with David Letterman—doing most of the heavy lifting for Walsh during this performance that goes completely off the rails from the very beginning.

All of the guys in the house band seem to be grinning at Walsh’s inability to play or focus. They try to pull him along, but that only goes so far. Walsh begins forgetting important lyrics, and his guitar work is, uh, off. The performance deteriorates into Walsh engaging in a constant series of shrugging, mugging, winking, and generally confused facial contortions in the direction of the audience and camera. He looks like he might, at any moment, start disassembling the amplifiers onstage.

Perhaps the funniest moment (or maybe the most poignant) in this video, comes when Walsh is required to sing “I lost my license, now I don’t drive” in his obviously altered state of consciousness. These words seem legit, coming from the guy who can only shout fragments of the lyrics that he can barely remember. The beautifully ironic bottom line is that Joe Walsh is so high, he even manages to butcher that “lost license” line. It’s a testament to, and a perfect indication of, just how far gone he is. Hopefully someone took the man’s car keys.

Of course, the most hair pulling aspect of the clip below consists in the choice of the song. Here we have a rich and famous guy, a guy who’s rich and famous because we, the audience, have elevated him to that status. And yet, the man is so somewhere else that he can’t even rub it in properly about how much better his life is than ours. He disrespects us so much that he doesn’t even bother (in a very real sense) to “show up for the gig.” Instead, he writes the audience off completely and spends the 4 minutes and 50 seconds documented of this clip in a “rocky mountain way.” Of course, having said that, I have to admit that the schadenfreude factor is off the chain.

And if anyone cares to question this article’s assertion that Walsh is high out of his mind, I’d simply direct you to take a gander at Walsh’s sartorial choice for this performance. No one not high dresses like that. Not even in 1988.


Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Play the Twin Peaks video game, ‘Fire Dance with Me’
10:41 am



Yesterday we at the DM brain trust were saddened to hear of the passing of Catherine E. Coulson at the age of 71. Coulson was the actress who portrayed the Log Lady from Twin Peaks, surely one of the most unusual characters ever to reach a mass audience.

You can honor Coulson’s performance, David Lynch’s groundbreaking TV series, and your own innate need to boogie by playing Fire Dance With Me, a video game designed for the Duplicade video game competition that calls for head-to-head simultaneous two-player games. The rules require that the games be Windows-compatible, use the traditional WASD and arrow keys for movement, and have a short duration (30 seconds) before deciding a winner. Furthermore, and amusingly, “The game must tread dangerously into the intellectual property of an existing game or game franchise, but be cleverly altered and culturally mangled enough to not be worth the effort to sue.” The game is downloadable for Windows but you can play it in any desktop browser—I played it on a Mac. 

Fire Dance With Me pays homage to the various dancers that populate Lynch’s series. You can choose Special Agent Dale Cooper (holding a coffee mug, natch), the Little Man from Cooper’s hallucinatory dreams, Audrey Home, or the Log Lady’s log (which never moves at all). Once the two players are selected and the game begins, you have to track a scrolling promenade of arrow signs in order to win—the two player’s avatars flank the sad, desperate dance of Leland Palmer in the middle, whom you cannot select.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Killer & Friends: Keith Richards, Gary Busey & Ruth Buzzi jamming with Jerry Lee Lewis
09:43 am



Gary Busey, Keith Richards, Ruth Buzzi and Jerry Lee Lewis
Top L to bottom R: Gary Busey, Keith Richards, Ruth Buzzi and Jerry Lee Lewis
Hosted by Dick Clark, Salute! was a short-lived syndicated TV variety show centered around Jerry Lee Lewis that ran for a year from 1983-1984. Each week the show featured different musical guests like Marvin Gaye, Johnny Cash, Ella Fitzgerald and Glen Campbell, all who performed with Lewis during the show. Since that sounded pretty great, I decided to see if I could dig up any video footage from Salute!.

Thankfully the all-giving Internet didn’t let me down and produced a video of Lewis performing “High School Confidential” (originally recorded by Lewis in 1958) with Keith Richards (!) and what appears to be a cocaine-powered Gary Busey. And Busey (former vocalist and drummer for his own band from the 70s called Carp), who always remembers to bring the crazy to the party, does not disappoint here.
Keith Richards, Mick Fleetwood and Jerry Lee Lewis on Salute! 1983
Keith Richards, Mick Fleetwood and Jerry Lee Lewis on Salute!,1983
There are also a few other clips from Salute! out there that pair the likes of Lewis with Mick Fleetwood and Keef (performing of cover of Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie”) and the woman who gave us the gift of purse-wielding spinster Gladys Ormphby, the great Ruth Buzzi (who looks super-hot BTW) performing and amusing version of Lewis’ song, “Breathless.” All three videos are posted after the jump. A word of caution, watching the 1983 version of Gary Busey (or any version of Gary Busey for that matter) might give you a contact high.

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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