The greatest rock movie you’ve never seen.
-“Little Steven” Van Zandt (Guitarist E-Street Band/ Actor The Sopranos)
Top three of all rock movies.
Tom Wolfe, You Magnificent Dandy !
Channeling the late, great Tom Wolfe! Holy Mother of Rock n’ Roll it, the one and only T.A.M.I. show still lives on DVD!
Yes, fellow music lovers, October 28, 29th was a great time to be alive on Earth in the teen mecca of Santa Monica, California, when the most diverse, talented, interplanetary collection of Pop, Rock, Surf, and Soul sounds all came crashing through the stratosphere to forever alter the fate and collective consciousness of humankind.
Filmed just eight months after The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, THE T.A.M.I. SHOW (Teen Age Music International) introduced rock n soul to the youth culture of America in the first concert movie of the rock era. One of the rarest and most sought-after performance films from its time, the 1964 concert event featured future Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Rolling Stones, James Brown, Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Supremes and many other American and British Invasion hitmakers in their prime.
The Harbinger of Ultra-Cool High-Definition TV.
I know, I was there as a callow, inquisitive youth at the Beaches Theater in late December 1964 when this cinematic masterpiece blew our collective minds into a joyous orbit of sonic bliss, thanks to the technological miracle of that time.
From Wikipedia we learn that the film was a pioneering masterstroke.
“The film was shot by director Steve Binder and his crew from The Steve Allen Show, using a precursor to high-definition television, called “Electronovision”, invented by the self-taught “electronics whiz,” Bill Sargent (H.W. Sargent, Jr). The film was the second of a small number of productions that used the system. By capturing more than 800 lines of resolution at 25 frame/s, the video could be converted to film via kinescope recording with sufficiently enhanced resolution to allow big-screen enlargement. It is considered one of the seminal events in the pioneering of music films, and more importantly, the later concept of music videos.”
It Was Her Party.
Behold the star power, the main attraction of this incredible gathering of talent, was a youthful prodigy, Lesley Sue Goldstein, a.k.a. Leslie Gore.
When she recorded her version of It’s My Party with Quincy Jones in 1963, she was a junior in high school. It became a number-one, nationwide hit. Gore’s version sold over one million copies and was certified as a gold record.
The diminutive wunderkind opens her segment with a blistering rendition of “Maybe I Know,” followed by It’s My Party, Judy’s Turn to Cry and the way ahead of its time feminist anthem You Don’t Own Me.
Lesley Gore had a tremendous range and power in her voice, and she is one of the undoubted major players at the T.A.M.I. show. Yes, see for yourself the otherworldly talent and poise Ms Gore possessed, despite being a teenager herself!
Beaches Theater Goes Full-Go-Go!
It was the Swinging ’60s so you know there had to be madcap dancing and the like.
The Monkey. The Dog. The Fly. The Frug. The Mash Potato. The Jerk. The Hitch-Hike. The Hully Gully. The Monster Mash. The Watusi. The Swim. The Pony. The Freddie. It was a mega-hot smorgasbord of fevered dance-o-rama!
Throughout the show, numerous go-go dancers performed in the background or beside the performers under the direction of choreographer David Winters. Among them were future stars Teri Garr and Toni Basil.
Yes, the T.A.M.I. Show was a whirling, swirling non-stop party from start to finish, in no small part thanks to the incredible dancers!
The Wrecking Crew Wreaks Havoc!
Bodaciously, wickedly good, The Wrecking Crew, which was the house band backing these incredible groups, was considered one the most fantastic, grooviest collection of musicians ever assembled.
They were under the musical direction of Jack Nitzsche, who later played with and arranged some guys named the Rolling Stones. Jack also played with and guided this dude you may have heard of, Neil Young. The Crew included drummer Hal Blaine, electric bass player Jimmy Bond, guitarists Tommy Tedesco and Glen Campbell, upright bassist Lyle Ritz, and pianist Leon Russell, saxophonist Plas Johnson and others. Not a bad bunch of players to have in the pit, hey?
Soul Brother with The Right Stuff!
Most of the black acts were restricted from mainstream television. So it was great seeing white audiences reacting to Smokey, James and Marvin as equals to the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and everybody else. It was an integrated United Nations on wheels with nobody discussing race afterward. It’s just a great rock ‘n’ roll film.
-Steve Binder (Director)
Take it to the bridge! Get On Up, Like a Sex Machine. The Night Train is on It’s Way! Yes, friends, on that mid-sixties afternoon in front of a sold out Santa Monica Auditorium, a legend was born forever. James Brown sang and danced with a carnal fury that many say was his greatest live performance. Ever. As I sat there chomping down popcorn in the Beaches Theater on 1st street in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, I knew I was watching a performance for the ages. Brown’s act was like a Pentecostal church service in its intensity. There was one of the flames holding a cape for James to wear and then, in deep sorrow and anguish, cast off. The man later to be called the “Godfather of Soul” was performing for redemption and approval, not just from the frenzied SoCal teenagers, but from the world.
David Remnick of the New Yorker describes it thusly; “This was the first time that Brown, while singing “Please, Please, Please,” pulled out his “cape act,” in which, in the midst of his own self-induced hysteria, his fit of longing and desire, he drops to his knees, seemingly unable to go on any longer, at the point of collapse, or worse. His backup singers, the Flames, move near, tenderly, as if to revive him, and an offstage aide, Danny Ray, comes on, draping a cape over the great man’s shoulders. Over and over again, Brown recovers, throws off the cape, defies his near-death collapse, goes back into the song, back into the dance, this absolute abandonment to passion.”
James and the Famous Flames were for me the greatest revelation, but there were many more acts that stick in one’s memory forever. How inspired was I from seeing that epoch-making performance? Well, many years later we were fortunate enough to be the only US creative group to win an International contest from GENERO and the James Brown estate for doing a video for JB’s “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag.” https://genero.com/jamesbrown/
Whatever you do this year, don’t miss out on this game-changing musical earthquake whose eruption was a vital factor in unleashing perhaps the greatest musical revolution ever.
When you’re a part of history, you live forever. ‘The T.A.M.I. Show’ will live forever because now it’s brand new. We did that 40-odd years ago, and people are really just starting to see it now. I was a part of history when I recorded that show.
-Darlene Love (The Ronettes)
Dedicated to Two Great Americans:
James Brown & Tom Wolfe!