Early ‘70s Detroiters were fortunate to have a still-thriving auto industry, the Motown scene, tons of badass underground rock bands, and on top of all that, they had WABX’s music TV show Detroit Tubeworks. That awesome footage you’ve seen a million times of Captain Beefheart doing “Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop” is from that show, as is approximately a shit-ton of other brilliant material from the post-hippie/pre-punk era. Perfect Sound Forever has a great post about the show’s history.
Tubeworks was one monster of a music TV show. These shows were (and are) mean enough to make the entire staff and stockholders of both MTV and VH-1 start crying and hide in the bathroom. And to boot, Tubeworks was on an early version of analog cable TV. Detroit Tubeworks was a superb example of what was really good in 1969-1974 in rock and roll. It all makes you wonder what would happen if rock and roll on TV in the ‘70’s and the ‘80’s had followed Tubeworks’ lead. Detroit Tubeworks definitely relieved the doldrums of “just the five or six channels we had otherwise then. It was really the only place where we could SEE for ourselves the jams getting kicked out by a righteous bunch of motherfuckers.
Over the weekend, the Detroit alt-weekly Metro Times dug up some incredible footage from Tubeworks of none other than the man who brought electric guitar to Delta blues and brought Delta blues to Detroit, John Lee Hooker. I can’t find the exact date of the filming or broadcast, but it’s sometime in 1970, and there’s a generous 21 and a half minutes of footage. The video is degraded, but the sound is terrific. Per the Metro Times post:
This video features two of Hooker’s own kids plus legendary percussionist Muruga Booker. It was shot in the studio in 1970 for the local Tube Works show. Make sure you turn your device up loud before you hit play on this thing. Hooker was tuned in to a cosmic frequency of electric boogie drone, after all.