Richard Pryor, Timothy Leary, Beach Boys and more talk psychedelia on Canadian TV, 1968

Canadian DJs Fred Latremouille and Red Robinson on the ‘Let’s Go’ set, 1964 (via Tom Hawthorn)

The CBC television series Let’s Go, which grew out of a segment on Alex Trebek’s Music Hop, brought the music of the Sixties into Canadian houses. Along with US and UK imports—Jimi Hendrix, the Yardbirds, Country Joe & the Fish, Eric Burdon and the Animals, et al.—Let’s Go promoted Canadian acts such as the Poppy Family and the Guess Who.

Apart from a sitar performance of “Downtown,” there is hardly any music in this special episode from 1968, a report on the effects of the “psychedelic revolution” on the Vancouver scene. The camera crew talks to local hippies and peeks inside a head shop and a coffeehouse, but most of the broadcast consists of celebrities arguing for or against acid rock and its cultural appurtenances. Timothy Leary, sitting in a field, pleads the case for consciousness change; Frank Sinatra Jr., interviewed on the soundstage, rails against the heads for making the Kingston Trio uncool. The Everly Brothers and Ray Charles also weigh in on the LSD question, and Al Jardine, Mike Love and the Maharishi put in a word for TM.

The show’s editor must have been a fan of “Tutti Frutti,” because this episode serves up a cold plate of revenge from its author. At 16:32, a clip of Little Richard is expertly deployed, interrupting Pat Boone’s windy sermon on the destructive power of Beatles and Stones lyrics and flushing the crooner’s sorry ass down one of those single-gender toilets of which he is so fond:

Oh, I think it’s great. I love it. I’m talking about the music. I think it’s fantastic. Because I think a person is expressing what he feels. He’s not going by anything that is written on paper. This man is playing, he’s not playing just for money, he’s playing because his soul within is driving him to push, to let his feelings go out in music, and I believe that it’s one of the greatest things that ever happened to the field of entertainment—which, psychedelic music is rhythm and blues, of course.

Naturally, my favorite philosopher, Richard Pryor, seems to know more than all the rest of the showfolk combined. Let his wisdom unfold your mind like a thousand-petaled lotus.

Watch it, after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall
09:41 am
Zappa talking about sex, sin and TV in 1969
11:25 am

Frank Zappa discussing television, sin and language on Canadian TV show The Day It Is in 1969.

“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.” ~ Frank Zappa.

Amen, brother.

Posted by Marc Campbell
11:25 am
“The whole world becomes kaleidoscopic”: Birthday Boy Marshall McLuhan Meets Norman Mailer

Marshall McLuhan would have turned 99 years old today, and his status as the god-daddy of media studies still seems pretty rock-solid. I wasn’t previously aware of how often the Canadian theorist appeared on TV, and was especially unaware of his November 1967 duet with New York novelist Norman Mailer on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation show The Summer Way, bravely moderated by Ken Lefolii.

Recovered from recent treatment for a benign brain tumor he suffered while teaching in New York, McLuhan gamely tugs at a few of Mailer’s pretensions. Mailer is recently back from levitating the Pentagon with the Yippies, with the siege of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention in his future.

McLuhan pops off a bunch of gems, including:

The planet is no longer nature, it’s now the content of an artwork.

Nature has ceased to exist…it needs to be programmed.

The environment is not visible, it’s information—it’s electronic.

The present is only faced by any generation by the artist.

Communications maven Michael Hinton goes speculative on his hero’s televised meeting with the Jersey-raised boxer-novelist, but of course it’s best to just check the thing out yourself.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Nachmann
07:00 pm