THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL – Best Variety For A Friday

The Midnight Special – Best Variety For A Friday

The Midnight Special” was a Friday night “Pop Rock” variety show on NBC TV. It ran in the same weekly time slot of 12:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. EST for 9 years (1972-1981). For those of us that were stuck home on a Friday night, this was our chance to check out new and sometimes weird music performances.”

Not only did it feature some of the best of up & coming artists and bands, but they gave a lot of comedians their start in the process of warping our young impressionable minds at an early age. Wolfman Jack was the announcer & host each week along with John Denver and Helen Reddy. Wolfman was the most entertaining in my book. Check out this awesome Tina Turner moment below she’s so fierce!

Burt Sugarman & Company

The show makes its debut on August 19,1972., It’s produced by Burt Sugarman, hence the name at the beginning. And the best part of this show is that the musical acts performed live. No lip syncing completely live. So, when things went awry, they were quick to fix the issue. But also, the show ran late at night and didn’t compete with shows like “American Bandstand” or “Soul Train.”

The only other late-night music show was “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert”. So, between the two you got your rock music fix for the whole week. Creature Feature and Kung Fu Theater were earlier in the evenings and after the “Tonight Show”. The Midnight Special! It was the perfect set-up for the shows to capitalize off of each other. Let’s face it, it’s also a way for music managers and labels to get their artists more exposure and sell more records. Check out this great band and great song written by Bruce Springsteen.

Cancellation of The Show

Sadly, all great things must come to an end and such is the case for “The Midnight Special” NBC canceled the show., At the request of Dick Ebersol as part of a deal for him to take over Saturday Night Live. The Midnight Special is replaced by SCTV, a weekly Canadian sketch comedy series produced by the Toronto satellite of The Second City improvisational troupe.

This in turn would later be replaced with another music program, “Friday Night Videos”. But on a high note, most of the video performances can be found on YouTube as well as the DVD infomercials for the 2003 documentary of all the performances. Just check out the kind of performances they were able to bring to the show. Below we have Tom Petty!

The Last Show – David Bowie

“The 1980 Floor Show” is a rock musical spectacle featuring David Bowie as the protagonist. The performance takes place at the Marquee Club in Soho, London, on October 1973. Later, it broadcasts in the United States by NBC in November 1973, as part of the series “The Midnight Special“. The show is the last performance of Bowie as the character Ziggy Stardust.

The lineup includes songs from the albums Aladdin Sane and Pin Ups, as well as the medley “1984 / Dodo“. The title of the show was a play-on-words referring to the song “1984”, that captures a transitional moment between the glamorous science fiction of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album and the dark dystopia of the Diamond Dogs album, released six months later. The live audience is made up of 200 fan club members. If you’re going to end something that lasts this long, what a better way than with David Bowie!

Midnight Special 1974 – 16 – Gladys Knight & B.B.King 

B.B. King and Gladys Knight tearing up “The Thrill is Gone.” Furthermore, the talent is so off the charts, yet, everything looks so simple.To be in the audience while this performance is going on and witnessing such greatness. I can only say Wow!  You go B.B.and your fancy dance moves!

 Journey – Wheel In The Sky 

A guilty pleasure video featuring the band Journey. Lighters in the air!!! This was a time when life was easier, and the biggest issue was wearing out your 8-tracks or home-made cassettes from overplaying the music. A time when arena rock ruled the day and concert tickets were easier to acquire. 

Golden Earring – Radar Love

Need we say anything more than the fact that Little Richard gets to introduce Golden Earring’s performance? I can guarantee that Golden Earring won’t forget this performance either! It felt proper to end this blog on a high note with the performance. Share the conversation and memories.

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