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‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’: The Ramones on ‘The Tomorrow Show,’ 1981
09.12.2017
08:45 am
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Tom Snyder’s late-night talkfest The Tomorrow Show was one of the more reliable sources of stimulating programming in the 1970s and early 80s. Snyder was a lanky Midwesterner with an emphatic speaking style and a certain fearlessness about presenting off-kilter content on TV. When John Lennon and the Clash appeared on the show in 1975 and 1981, respectively, the result was frankly riveting television. It didn’t always click to that extent, such as the Ramones’ visit to the Tomorrow studio, primarily because Snyder himself was on vacation, with regular guest host Kelly Lange stepping in.

Lange seems like a perfectly nice lady but in all honesty she didn’t really make much sense as a guest host for a show that highlighted the “provocative” so strongly, and she was certainly not a very good choice to interview the Ramones! The Ramones were supporting Pleasant Dreams and they were firmly in their permanent state of disappointment in terms of generating sales after the Phil Spector-produced End of the Century, which was widely interpreted as a move to shake things up.  Pleasant Dreams features at least one stone-cold Ramones classic, in “The KKK Took My Baby Away,” but the sales didn’t live up to expectations.

The Ramones’ segment on The Tomorrow Show starts with a rendition of “We Want the Airwaves,” after which we get a few minutes of fairly innocuous chitchat. After the conversation the Ramones re-take the stage and play “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “The KKK Took My Baby Away.”

According to Marky in his book Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone, the band didn’t care too much that they hadn’t gotten Snyder himself for the interview:
 

We liked The Tomorrow Show because an interview with Tom was not standard fare.

Tom sat you down like a guest in his own living room and plunged headfirst into your situation like a half-journalist/half-shrink. If three million or four million people happened to be watching, so be it. He laughed hard, he scoffed hard, and he set the bar for a good interview right around the bar for good sex—nothing short of sheer exhaustion was acceptable. Once Dan Aykroyd of Saturday Night Live had captured the manic flap of the head and arms in his brilliant impression, Tom Snyder was permanently etched into the brain of everyone who stayed up past eleven thirty.

The official name of The Tomorrow Show was Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, but that applied to tomorrow, not today. Tom was out, so for our afternoon taping we were getting the substitute host, Kelly Lange. Lange had done the news with Snyder out in Los Angeles and was a fairly regular stand-in, but she was no Tom Snyder. We didn’t care. We were happy to get a national spot.

 
Sensitive Joey, however, may not have been able to shrug it off so easily. According to Joey’s brother Mickey Leigh in his book I Slept with Joey Ramone: A Punk Rock Family Memoir, Joey said of the appearance, “We waited all these years to come on The Tomorrow Show and meet Tom Snyder, and we find out he was on vacation. Tom doesn’t even show up!”

One of the best things in this clip is the tight close-up of Marky’s nervously bobbing Chuck Taylor—if you watch you’ll see what I mean.
 
Watch the video after the jump….....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.12.2017
08:45 am
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Joan Jett and The Jam’s Paul Weller talk New Wave on ‘The Tomorrow Show,’ 1977
11.18.2014
09:58 am
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In October of 1977, Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show hosted one of US media’s early attempts at a thoughtful discussion of the then-new phenomena of punk and New Wave. Disappointingly, but still understandably, the discussion mostly features establishment figures, whose basic understanding of what was actually even happening varied wildly. Legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, perhaps unsurprisingly, doesn’t get it at all. He’s here representing the old guard, and all his knowledge of the new noise appears to derive from sensationalistic rumor, though at least he admits to limited first-hand knowledge. (At one point he talks about bands burning Stars of David and wearing KKK uniforms. Wuuuuuuuut?) Also unsurprisingly, LA Times music writer Robert Hilburn offers some of the most thoughtful and informed comments. The Runaways’ producer Kim Fowley is obviously approaching the discussion from a knowledgeable position, but he clowns around and snarks incessantly—he claims to see the trend-orientation of the discussion as a farce that diverts attention from the artistry of the bands and their music, but he’s hardly one to talk about that, now, is he? Though his remarks are often too insidery to actually be informative to the civilians watching this, at least he knows what makes for good TV.

B+ for effort, seriously, but it’s all pretty dry and speculative until the real marquee names arrive. You can see the beginnings of the discussion on YouTube in three parts (1) (2) (3), but it was really only once the RunawaysJoan Jett and the Jam’s Paul Weller joined the conversation that things got significantly more interesting and relevant. It’s one thing to hear oldsters blather on about music they’d never even heard (to his credit, Snyder came around to a deeper understanding of the stuff), and another to hear about the music from the people making it. And amusingly, after Jett and Weller started talking, everyone else’s comments improved. It’s a good deal harder to throw around bullshit about swastikas and self-mutilation when you’re talking face-to-face with thoughtful artists who defy the stereotypes you’ve been fed. Watch it here, it’s good stuff.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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11.18.2014
09:58 am
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‘I always hope that people will have some kind of orgasm’: Patti Smith on ‘The Tomorrow Show’
06.04.2014
09:43 am
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Perhaps due to the lateness of the hour that it aired, Tom Snyder’s classic Tomorrow Show, in its run on NBC from 1973 to 1982, was able to feature interviews with genuinely adventurous and sometimes even anti-commercial musicians. Perhaps Snyder’s most famous musician guest was John Lennon (and his immigration lawyer), in what turned out to be his last televised interview. His most notorious was arguably the pointlessly combative and dickish cop-out of Public Image Limited. But Snyder’s skill as an interviewer was such that he rarely had a bad interview, and his chat with Patti Smith was fantastic.

She was interviewed by Snyder in May of 1978, shortly after the release of the Patti Smith Group’s classic third LP Easter. Surprisingly, they don’t talk about the album at all—Smith was really on that night (some of her more dithering interviews from around that time remain notorious to this day), so Snyder wisely let her free-associate about creative transformation, the divine, and the things that ultimately turn a kid into an artist.
 

 
A couple chunks of the interview are missing from this clip. The first is nothing particularly mind-blowing, just a bit of intro, but without it, one does wonder what the hell is going on. I’ve transcribed the missing bits from Shout! Factory’s fantastic Tomorrow Show: Punk & New Wave DVD.

Snyder: Now here is one of the first and the most accomplished of the New Wave rock artists in this country, her name is Patti Smith. She has released three record albums so far, she’s published a book of poems and drawings, and is an accomplished concert performer. She’s in Los Angeles for a show tomorrow, and she’s really excited to be here at NBC tonight because she saw where the stars park their cars.

Smith: Johnny Carson! I didn’t say all the stars, just Johnny Carson.

The second missing bit, however, is much longer and more illuminating. This belongs at about 6:33, after the fade-to-commercial, before the big glitch:

Snyder: Patti Smith will be at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium tomorrow night. I went through your book of poetry before we did this tonight, and I was interested in your, uh, what do they call it, dedication—“This book is dedicated to the future.”

Smith: Oh, and it’s got a little picture of me and my sister on Easter when we were little girls?

Snyder: Yeah, two little kids. What do you want the future to be like?

Smith: I want the future to be like, I just want it to be an open space for children. I mean to me, the future is children. When I was younger, first I wanted to be a missionary, then I wanted to be a schoolteacher, I just couldn’t get through all the dogma and I couldn’t really integrate all the rules and regulations of those professions into like my lifestyle, and into the generation that I was part of. And the really great thing about doing the work that I’m doing now, I have all the ideals that I ever had, to like communicate to children, or to people in general, to everybody, and to communicate with my creator. I can do everything, all the perverse ends of it and also, you know, all the innocence, it’s all inherent in the form that I’m doing. But I just like, I think that we’re really so lucky, to be alive and to be on this planet, and after going all over the world, really, America’s a really great country. We’re really lucky to be here, but also, there’s a lot of things that we have to fight for. This country was built on freedom, freedom of speech, and it is a very rich country, Capitalist and all that kind of stuff, that is true I suppose, but what we have to work on is refocusing our energies.

Snyder: How about “Redefining our priorities?”

Smith: Yeah, that’s a good one. We have nature, we have life, we have breath, we have so many chances we can take…

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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06.04.2014
09:43 am
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John Lennon’s last major TV interview, 1975
01.08.2014
12:00 pm
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John Lennon
 
This probably qualifies as one of the least original ideas for a post I’ve ever had—a full-length nationally broadcast interview with one of the most magnetic rock stars of the twentieth century—but what the hell: this is darn good footage and it deserves to be part of the Dangerous Minds archive one way or another. It’s John Lennon’s appearance on The Tomorrow Show hosted by Tom Snyder, which, according to The John Lennon Encyclopedia by Bill Harry, was taped on April 8, 1975, and was aired on April 28, 1975. Tom Snyder is as idiosyncratic and dorky as ever, but this is an awfully good conversation, such as it is, full of the charm of Lennon engaging with an interviewer who at least isn’t dumb and is fully focused on the topic at hand—you could do a lot worse.

Snyder himself, in 1980, avers somewhat tentatively that this seems to be the last television interview Lennon ever gave. That claim, while surprising, has not been strenuously challenged, at least not in my nugatory attempts to research the issue. Lennon more or less dropped out of sight in 1975, and if he felt like not giving TV interviews to support his album Double Fantasy, which had come out in October, then so be it. It’s useful to remember that he didn’t do any live shows either—for his last concert, you have to go back even farther, to 1974. The man was semi-retired.

In 1975 one of the topics that was consuming John Lennon was his lengthy legal problems with the U.S. Immigration Service, which had gone to some lengths to block John and Yoko’s attempts to establish residency in the United States. Lennon’s attorney, Leon Wildes, appears late in the telecast and explains that the U.S government’s issues with Lennon obscurely stemmed from the days of Watergate,when Strom Thurmond passed a memo to Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell or some such.

(True story: My dad briefly worked as a journalist in DC in the early 1970s, and he was present at a press conference John and Yoko held about their immigration case around 1972 at the National Press Club—actually, if anyone has any documentation of that event, I’d be awfully interested to hear more about that. My dad was a jazz nut and, while glancingly impressed by the idea of seeing a Beatle give a press conference close up, he didn’t give it all that much thought.)

It’s apparent that the immigration case was a pretty big topic in the media at the time, and in fact it was settled in Lennon’s favor a few months later, in October. Of course the irony, that Lennon fought so hard to live in the city in which he would be killed at the early age of 40, is awful to contemplate.
 
John Lennon and Tom Snyder
 
This video is actually a rebroadcast of the interview that was aired on December 9, 1980, and I’m sure many of you out there don’t need me to tell you the significance of that date. Of course, John Lennon was shot and killed the day before, and Snyder introduces the 1975 interview and then interviews music journalist Lisa Robinson and producer Jack Douglas, who worked on Imagine and Double Fantasy (which was then quite a new album, and also the first John Lennon album in five years). The 1975 footage is of course presented in the light of this horrifying tragedy, and it’s interesting to hear Robinson’s and Douglas’s thoughts—Douglas in particular is understandably very emotional about having lost his dear friend. It strikes me that, in our current era, you would never see interviews quite like this after an event like the sudden death of a major star, today you’d have a lot of talking heads weighing in and everyone would somehow be angling for top dog on the subject, and there’d just be a lot of spin. This isn’t to say that Robinson and Douglas didn’t know they were on TV or weren’t choosing their words carefully, but it just seems a lot less mediated, they were invited to give their thoughts, and they did so in a relatively unfussy way.

As for Lennon himself, it’s wonderful to be reminded of the intelligent charm of the man—shit, I’d love to hang out with that guy for an hour or two. As much as Lennon “signified” and no matter how grandiose his political or artistic of philosophical concepts could be, at bottom he was a witty, cheerful, sassy, sarcastic Liverpudlian with a lot of sensible and sharp ideas in his head. Snyder several times mentions Lennon’s humility—that doesn’t quite seem like the right word but I understand entirely what Snyder meant by it. Lennon spent his entire adult life as the object of unremitting adulation, praise, and (if you will) love, and something in him inevitably saw the preposterousness in it—as I’m sure all the Beatles did after a few months of Beatlemania. Listen to Lennon address the idea of a John Lennon anti-drug PSA; if anyone understood the limits of celebrity advocacy, it would surely be John Lennon. He figured kids would say, “Well who the hell are you to say I shouldn’t smoke pot?” and he was surely dead right about that.

As for the rest of the interview, be sure to tune in. Snyder might get on your nerves but even Lennon says himself that he’s a fan! Lennon’s thoughts on the breakup of the Beatles, the absurdity of Beatlemania, his affection for New York, his admiration for reggae, none of it is groundbreaking or new, but it’s still well worth a look.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Yoko Ono’s plea for gun control expressed in one image: John Lennon’s blood-splattered glasses
John Lennon’s school detention sheets go up for sale
The Clash take on Tom Snyder, armed with a teddy bear, 1981

Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.08.2014
12:00 pm
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The Clash take on Tom Snyder, armed with a teddy bear, 1981
09.13.2013
10:51 am
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This footage is preposterously entertaining. It was 1981, the Clash were supporting Sandinista! The Clash had booked eight gigs at a nightclub called Bond’s Casino in Times Square in May and June of 1981—Richard has already written about that legendary stint in considerable detail.

(In related news, a comprehensive Clash box set dropped this week. The Clash: Sound System, designed by Paul Simonon to resemble an old-school boom box, contains the Clash’s first five U.S. releases—The Clash, Give ‘Em Enough Rope, London Calling, Sandinista!, and Combat Rock—three discs of rarities and outtakes, a DVD with videos, live material, and previously unseen footage by Julien Temple and Don Letts, and lots of other fun trinkets and doodads.)

Anyway, while they were in New York, they paid a visit to The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder. If you’re into the Clash and you haven’t seen this, you are in for a treat.

During the interview, Joe Strummer keeps fooling around with a cute teddy bear, but, very much in the manner of an impatient fusspot dad, no-nonsense Tom keeps taking it away from him. The band decide to affix stickers all over Tom’s body and then Joe puts a “Have a Nice Day!” plastic bag over his head. Then they debate the ins and outs of squatting. I’m making it sound silly, but somehow all this happens and they also manage to answer Tom’s questions about vacant youth and so forth with a good mixture of seriousness and silliness, and it all happens in under nine minutes.

After the commercial the Clash entertains the crowd with vital performances of “The Magnificent Seven” and “This Is Radio Clash.” While the band is doing “This Is Radio Clash,” Futura 2000 is seen spray-painting text all over the back wall and there’s generally an undercurrent of controlled mayhem throughout.

This is must-see stuff.

The interview section is here:

 
Don’t neglect the performances of “The Magnificent Seven” and “This Is Radio Clash” after the jump….

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.13.2013
10:51 am
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Divine & Holly Woodlawn discuss ‘The Neon Woman’, 1979

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Here’s something to make up for that Divine interview on The Tube I posted on Monday - a whole thirty minutes of Genn Harris Milstead discussing Divine’s role in the 1979 theater production of The Neon Woman.

The interview is hosted by TV personality Tom Snyder, and also on hand are The Neon Woman‘s director Ron Link and Divine’s co-star (and another stone cold legend of drag/gender-bending and Warhol’s Factory scene) Holly Woodlawn.

There’s still a bit of a naff “wtf?” tone to Snyder’s questioning, but it’s nowhere near as bad as Muriel Grey’s Divine inquisition on The Tube. In fact, Snyder does a decent enough job of eventually getting past his own preconceptions and treating Divine and Woodlawn not as freaks, but as human beings with something interesting and intelligent to say.

This interview was taped for NBC’s Tomorrow show in 1979, and appears on YouTube in three parts. The quality isn’t immaculate, but it’s not terrible either, and it’s just a joy to see these people in the same room together hanging out and shooting the shit:

Divine and Holly Woodlawn on Tomorrow, 1979, part one:
 

 
After the jump, parts two and three…
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
 
Divine in highlights form ‘The Neon Woman’ from 1978
 
Awkward interview with Divine on ‘The Tube’, 1983
 

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Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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09.19.2012
10:10 am
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Delightful Alfred Hitchcock interview, 1973
07.01.2011
03:18 pm
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Famed director Alfred Hitchock sat for this hour-long interview with Tom Snyder for The Tomorrow Show in 1973. Even the normally inept Snyder seems to up his interviewer’s game around the master (who is framed with his iconic profile in full view, as you can see below).

Synder tells Hitch at the outset that he wants to discuss “ideas” and not just talk about films. He’s fairly successful (for Tom Synder). Hitchcock is on form here, this is a delight.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.01.2011
03:18 pm
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Superstars Divine and Holly Woodlawn on the ‘Tomorrow Show’ with Tom Snyder, 1979

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Tom Snyder interviews Divine, Andy Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn and playwright/director Ron Link in July of 1979. Link wrote “The Neon Woman” which starred Divine and ran off-Broadway in 1978.

This is wonderful. Part of the fun is watching Snyder struggling to fathom the whole thing. By the end, Snyder seems ripe for a lifestyle change.
 

 
Parts two and three after the jump…

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Posted by Marc Campbell
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10.06.2010
02:52 pm
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To Chat with Charlie

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Although Charles Manson had been interviewed on television from prison previously, the 1981 chat he had with Tom Snyder that was aired on the Tomorrow show 29 years ago tonight was the first he did outside of his cell. On review, it’s instructive in two ways.

First, it shows that inside the clichéd image to which so many fashionably “extreme” types cling (via t-shirts and the rest) lives a rather regular guy—albeit one who inhabits an extraordinary sense of self-justification. Secondly, it demonstrates the hugely talented Snyder’s haranguing pomposity, which was also famously on display the previous year in his interview with John Lydon and Keith Levene of PiL. Geraldo Rivera would tweak that same pomposity with a bit of sleazily ingratiating buddy-buddy attitude during his 1988 go-round with the bearded enigma. For an actual listening exchange with the man, check out the Charlie Rose CBS News Nightwatch session from 1989.

 

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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06.13.2010
12:02 pm
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