FORGOTTEN HITS INTERVIEWS ANDREW SOLT
Three generations grew up watching The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS Television back in the '50's, 60's and '70's. It became THE showcase for break-out, new talent.
Certainly it is BEST remembered for helping to launch the careers of Elvis Presley and The Beatles ... and, while it may be true that NEITHER of these artists actually made their very first television appearance on Sullivan's program, it was The Ed Sullivan Show that catapulted each of their respective careers into the Show Biz Stratosphere!
Ed's Sunday Night Program ran from 1948 through 1971 ... an incredible 23 years as literally "The Toast Of The Town" of variety entertainment television (which, ironically enough, is what the show was first called when it debuted back in 1948!) Through the years, Sullivan brought into our homes the full gamut of pop culture ... you'd catch "something for the kids" like The Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits or The Dave Clark Five ... the era's hottest comedians (like George Carlin and George Gobel ... Joan Rivers and Carol Burnett ...
or Richard Pryor and Flip Wilson) ... a complete Broadway Production Number, recreated "right here on our stage" from "West Side Story", "Camelot", "My Fair Lady" or "Oliver" ... singers' singers like Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett ... or Ethel Merman and Judy Garland ... and it was ALL on display ... every Sunday Night ... right in our living rooms ... and often all within the same 60 minute show!
It was the very essence of family, variety TV ... and nobody did it better than this most unlikely of hosts, Ed Sullivan. An appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was the epitome of "making it" ... The Holy Grail of Entertainment ... if you were asked to do THIS show, you knew you were either on your way ... or already there.
Some of our clearest and fondest memories are of performances we saw "live" on The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday Nights ... yet for years now, many of these have remained exactly that ... simply memories. Much of this footage has been locked up in the vaults for decades ... but every once in a while we'd see a special new release to renew hope that some of this material might become available once again ... to the audience that would MOST appreciate seeing it!
That plan now seems to be in motion ... Andrew Solt, who purchased the EXCLUSIVE rights to the entire library of Sullivan shows back in 1990, has been releasing special compilation DVD sets over the past several years, spotlighting "favorite son" artists like Elvis and The Beatles, encompassing ALL of their COMPLETE appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show into one collectors' piece home video set. Recent releases include the complete appearances of The Rolling Stones ... a Tribute To Motown (featuring key artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five, The Four Tops and many, many others) as well as individual releases spotlighting the appearances of Diana Ross and the Supremes and The Temptations.
Several compilation DVDs are also available, covering Ed Sullivan: The Rock And Roll Years, dipping back to the '50's for vintage performances by the likes of Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke and Paul Anka ... through the '60's appearances of everyone from The Doors to The Mamas and the Papas to Creedence Clearwater Revival ... and into the earliest shows of the '70's ... with artists like The Carpenters, The Jackson Five and Santana. Similar collections are also available, spotlighting Comedy, Broadway and The Arts. There are even deluxe box set packages that give you a little bit of everything ... and some of these packages even play back with the original commercials! (It just may be the closest we ever get to an actual time machine ... and it all works PERFECTLY!!!)
Of course, The Ed Sullivan Show wasn't JUST about Elvis and The Beatles ... virtually anybody who was ANYBODY appeared on this program back in the day. British Invasion acts like Herman's Hermits, The Rolling Stones, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Dave Clark Five ... contemporary pop stars like Tom Jones, The Fifth Dimension, Neil Diamond, The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons and Simon and Garfunkel ... Soul Legends like the aforementioned Sam Cooke, James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. And there were SO many more one-off appearances FAR too lengthy to mention here. Imagine having ALL of these performances available for viewing again!
Sure, for OUR purposes, we LOVED the music acts ... as we said, Ed ALWAYS made sure that he had "something for the kids" on his program ... and, as such, had the ratings to prove it! And Forgotten Hits is ALL about the music. But it's SO nice to see that ... FINALLY ... more and more of these clips seem to be making their way to home video.
A visit to Click here: The Ed Sullivan Show - Official Website for DVD's, CD's & Videos shows you which DVDs are currently available ... and which new releases are planned. There is also now an exclusive Ed Sullivan YouTube Channel, courtesy of Andrew Solt and SOFA Entertainment, providing one minute "teaser clips" of some of the other material available in the vaults. (For YEARS you didn't DARE post a clip from The Ed Sullivan Show on YouTube ... the site was CONSTANTLY being policed to insure that these videos vanished just as quickly as they appeared ... and Solt is VERY proud of his exclusive rights to this material, as he should be. How cool is it that HE is now personally making some of this material available again!)
In this brand new Forgotten Hits Series, we'll be taking an EXCLUSIVE look back at The Ed Sullivan Show ... and its musical impact on our teenage landscape. Andrew Solt, the official "keeper of the castle", has agreed to sit down with us and answer a few questions ... as well as share some of his OWN memories and favorite moments. And Andrew Solt's resume reads like a book of dreams and wishes!
He is an Emmy and Grammy-winning producer, director, writer and documentary film maker. Solt purchased the exclusive rights to The Ed Sullivan Show in 1990 … but prior to this achievement, he had already built an incredible list of credentials.
In the late 1970's and early 1980's, Andrew worked with underwater pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau on several television projects. He wrote and produced "Oasis In Space", a six-part half-hour series, executive produced by Jacques Cousteau and his son, Philippe. This series resulted in Andrew's first of nine Emmy nominations. Several other Costeau projects followed.
In 1979, Solt teamed with producer / director Malcolm Leo to create one of the very first television documentaries about rock music. The highly praised "Heroes Of Rock And Roll" aired as a two hour special later that year. In 1995, Solt expanded his Rock And Roll horizons by executive producing a Ten-Episode series for Time-Life called "The History Of Rock And Roll", which ran as a syndicated television series before being marketed for home video. And the rock didn't stop there ... Andrew has also produced made-for-video releases like "25 x 5: The Continuing Adventures Of The Rolling Stones" (1989) and "Elvis: The Great Performances" (1990).
Other music / film credits include the 1981 film "This Is Elvis", "Imagine: John Lennon" (1988) as well as numerous Ed Sullivan television specials, paying homage to the ultimate variety host.
And it doesn't stop there ... Andrew has produced anniversary and reunion specials like "Donald Duck's 50th Birthday", "The Honeymooners Reunion", "The Muppets: A Celebration Of 30 Years", "Great Moments In Disney Animation", "Remembering Marilyn", "The Andy Griffith Show Reunion", "Sesame Street's All-Star 25th Birthday", "Grammy's Greatest Moments", "CBS: The First 50 Years" as well as 75th Anniversary Television Specials for both CBS and NBC!
The list goes on and on ... but he’s saved the very best for last … because THIS week he's sitting down with us here in Forgotten Hits to talk about The Ed Sullivan Show library ... what's available ... what's new ... and what we might expect to see in the years to come. Along the way, we'll share some precious memories of the television program that EVERYBODY watched ... The Ed Sullivan Show.
Our exclusive interview with Andrew Solt follows … be sure to check out our OTHER web page where folks from BOTH sides of the television screen also share some of their favorite Sullivan memories!
Owning "The Ed Sullivan Show" is like owning The Holy Grail of Variety Television. It harkens back to an earlier time when, with just three major network channels, the entire family would sit down together to watch an evening of television programming (typically built around the most "common denominator" as to what all could agree to watch on that particular evening.)
It was a time before Cable TV (and a TV set in every room) ... today, many (if not most) families isolate themselves behind closed doors so that each can watch what THEY want to watch, with little regard for what another family member may be viewing.
But "The Ed Sullivan Show" had something for EVERYBODY ... great comedians ... major TV and Sports figures ... Broadway Plays (both musicals and dramas), opera, circus acts, animal acts and, beginning in 1955, the absolute latest in the world of Rock And Roll. Something for EVERYBODY.
The program ran from June 20, 1948 (launched as "Toast Of The Town") through March 28, 1971, thus becoming the longest-running variety show in television history. Along the way, its name was changed to "The Ed Sullivan Show" (after its incomparable host) and, by the time it ended, it was being broadcast from The Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City. (Today this same building hosts "Late Night with David Letterman" ... in fact, a milestone was reached last year when Paul McCartney performed a few songs from the rooftop of The Ed Sullivan Theater, drawing back memories of both The Beatles' first American live television appearance on Ed's program in 1964 ... as well as their final performance together as a group on the rooftop of their own Apple Records Studio in 1969.)
If you grew up in this era, "The Ed Sullivan Show" was part of your weekly routine ... Ed was practically a part of your family. Incredible as it may seem, this year marks the 40th Year since it was last broadcast on Sunday Nights on CBS Television.
In 1990, the exclusive rights to the complete library of "The Ed Sullivan Show" were purchased by Andrew Solt from Ed's daughter Elizabeth and her husband Bob Precht, a long-time Executive Producer on the show. In all, this collection encompasses nearly 1100 hours of classic television, including over 10,000 live performances by virtually EVERY popular entertainer to pass through our collective existence between 1948 and 1971 ... many of whom went on to achieve super-stardom, quite often as a direct result of the exposure they received on Ed's weekly program.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down and visit with Andrew Solt and much of that conversation follows in this brand new, exclusive Forgotten Hits Series. (Prior to actually speaking to him, I pictured Andrew up at the very top of the king's tower, surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of video tapes screaming "Mine ... All Mine!!!", which is probably what I would do if I owned such a collection ... but instead he was very approachable and down to earth about the whole thing ... very proud of his collection, to be sure ... and the legacy that it encompasses ... but also acknowledging that these tapes deserve to be seen by the people who grew up enjoying Ed's program.) And that's really what it comes down to ... what good is HAVING all this one-of-a-kind video footage if you can't SHARE it with somebody!
Thankfully, over the years, a few of these vintage performances have found their way to home video or were included as part of television specials and tributes to the legacy of Ed Sullivan ... and, according to Andrew, we're just getting started.
Recently there has been a flurry of releases. A few years ago, the best-selling DVD collection of ALL of The Beatles' appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" was released. That was followed a short while later by the complete Elvis Presley appearances. Both collections offer the viewer the opportunity to watch ONLY these landmark, legendary musical performances ... or view the entire program EXACTLY as it aired then, complete with original commercials!
The past several weeks has brought us The Ed Sullivan Motown Collection (featuring some of the biggest names in Motown) as well as special disks devoted to the performances of Diana Ross and the Supremes and The Temptations.
Two other special editions are now available spotlighting the appearances of The Rolling Stones ... a 4-disk compilation was released on October 4th (2011) ... and, just this week, a deluxe 6-disk set which hit stores on November 1st ... meaning fans can now own EVERY appearance ever made by The Rolling Stones on Ed's program ... to enjoy as part of their home music / video library.
KENT KOTAL / FORGOTTEN HITS: You were born in London ... and spent some time in South Africa before moving to The United States in 1958. What was YOUR first experience with discovering The Ed Sullivan Show?
ANDREW SOLT: I had never seen television before we moved here toAmerica. I was eleven years old the first time I ever watched TV ... and I fell in love with The Ed Sullivan Show. I remember spending an afternoon with my brother watching nothing but game shows and even at that early age wondering "How does anyone get anything done here?" with all that great TV to watch. I was both fascinated and completely captivated.
(How much of an impact did this experience have on a young Andrew Solt? In 1983, Solt produced an NBC television special titled "Those Wonderful TV Game Shows"!!! - kk)
kk: Would you say that you have always been a "fan" of the series? What are some of YOUR favorite remembrances of this landmark series? What kinds of things did YOU tune in to watch, growing up in the late '50's and '60's?
AS: The Ed Sullivan Show was always my favorite. Much like you, I may have first tuned in to see the rock and roll acts ... but I also grew to love the variety of SO many different forms of entertainment presented on the same stage during the course of an evening. Besides the rock music for the kids, Ed had Broadway shows, live drama, sports figures, ballet, opera, some great comedians, vaudeville and novelty acts, animals, circus performers and, of course, Topo Gigio! ... truly something for everybody.
kk: It seems that Sullivan's shows strived to always have something for everybody. This was back in an age where the whole family sat down together to watch television on Sunday Nights ... with typically a choice of only three television channels to choose from.
AS: You're right ... this was the golden era of network television ... three major networks and that was it ... not like the hundreds of cable channels we have today. If you lived in a major city, you might have six or seven channels ... the three major networks and perhaps up to three or four local affiliates ... but Ed Sullivan had a regular viewership that tuned in faithfully every Sunday night just to see who he was going to have on ... and week after week, he rarely disappointed, always having the biggest names in every field of entertainment on his program.
kk: And it wasn't just the entertainers appearing on the stage ... it was amazing to see who might be sitting in the audience on any given night! Ed would always find a way to recognize every celebrity on hand.
AS: He knew everybody ... and he was always looking for the next hot act. After working on his newspaper column and rehearsing the television show, Ed and his wife Sylvia would go out every night to nightclubs and theaters, often staying out till three in the morning seeking “the next big thing” for the show. This was the life they both enjoyed.
kk: I'm sure I watched Ed Sullivan before 1964, but the night The Beatles first appeared on his program is still as clear in my mind as it can be, all these years later. (Watching the now-available DVD rebroadcasts of these appearance only confirms how truly vivid these memories really are!) I'll never forget going to school the next day and having The Beatles being the ONLY topic of discussion anyone wanted to spend time on! (In fact, the night after The Beatles' first television appearance, my Dad took us three boys to the barber shop to get haircuts. The running joke that night was whether or not the three of us basically flat top / crew cut boys wanted new "Beatle cuts" or not! A vivid memory to be sure ... of not only an IMMEDIATE fashion style-impact The Fab For had on America ... but also of the day when barber shops were still open on Mondays!!! lol)
AS: So you remember that very first Beatles appearance? So many of us do ... it was a life-changing moment for many of us. By then, early 1964, we had heard the records but we had never SEEN The Beatles. You had the record album covers to look at, of course ... but we had never seen them perform live ... and witnessed their wit and charm and charisma. The Beatles' first performance drew 73 million viewers ... it's a mind-boggling statistic ... that THAT many people would tune in to see one act perform ... and a relatively unknown, unproven act at that! But you have to understand that Ed's program regularly drew 30-35 million viewers, each and every week. That's almost unheard of in television today. Today the only programs that generate that kind of an audience ... 30 million viewers ... would be something like a major sporting event like The Super Bowl ... or perhaps the season finale of "American Idol" ... but Ed Sullivan delivered those kinds of ratings on a regular basis back then when there were less than half as many Americans. Now consider that there were far fewer televisions in homes back then ... and the numbers become truly staggering.
kk: This is true ... today most families have a TV in every room ... and each member of the family goes off on their own, closes the door and watches what THEY want to watch, from a choice of over 200 different channels! It's not like the old days where the whole family would sit down together and watch ... and enjoy ... the same program! Now I'll admit to leaving the room whenever something of lesser interest came on the screen ... but we didn't stray far for fear of missing something new and exciting. Ed ALWAYS seemed to have a way of catching an artist RIGHT when their latest hit record was soaring up the charts!
AS: It didn't take long for people like Berry Gordy of Motown to catch on ... back then the new record releases came out on Monday ... and if your act was performing on The Ed Sullivan Show Sunday Night, it was pretty much a sure thing that the kids would be hitting the record stores the very next day, buying the latest hit record they heard on TV the night before. And Ed Sullivan knew this. He was very in tune with the power of the media and the power of his program.
kk: His program always seemed to capture an artist at exactly the right time ... just as their latest record was about to break big, they'd be on the Sullivan stage performing it live!
AS: And certainly those performances helped to break that new record big ... and the record company executives KNEW this. It was quite the coup to be asked to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.
kk: And the way he found these acts was sometimes amazing, too. Had he not been at the airport inLondon at the exact moment The Beatles were landing, he may never have even booked the lads on his television program!
AS: You're right ... Ed was landing at London's Heathrow Airport when he and his wife saw literally THOUSANDS of screaming girls ... and a few boys ... waiting for The Beatles' plane to come in from Scotland. Ed asked what all the fuss was about ... at first he thought perhaps this crowd had turned out to see The Royal Family! When he learned that they were all there to see a pop group called The Beatles, he immediately started seeking out their manager when he got to his hotel. Now this was in November of 1963 ... The Beatles weren’t even dominating the charts in America yet ... in fact, they had yet to have their first U.S. hit record ... but he made Brian Epstein a standing offer on the spot that whenever they were ready, he would book The Beatles on his program ... same deal he had given Colonel Parker and Elvis Presley in 1956 ... three separate appearances. And The Beatles were smart to wait ... as part of the negotiation, Brian Epstein insisted on three things that had previously been decided upon by John and Paul: that The Beatles would not come to America until they had a #1 Record ... that they would have their first major concert appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York City ... and that they would receive top billing on Ed's program ... again, a VERY bold move for an act that had no proven history with an American audience up to this point. The Beatles themselves were unsure as to just how well they would go over here inAmerica ... no British act had ever really had this type of blow-out success before here in The States ... but Brian Epstein believed in his band and negotiated a pretty remarkable deal that Ed Sullivan whole-heartedly agreed to. The Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show proved to be ultimately more popular than those of Elvis Presley some eight years earlier! It was seen by over 72 million people and had an 82% share of the audience. Amazing!
kk: It was quite exciting to see ... and the footage still holds up incredibly well today. And who would have ever thought that also on the bill that night was a young Davy Jones, then acting in the musical "Oliver" on Broadway!
AS: Yes! A very happy coincidence to be sure!
(And Davy has since said that watching The Beatles perform from the wings of The Ed Sullivan Theater is what inspired him to try his hand at rock and roll. Two years later, he'd be starring in his own television series BASED on The Beatles ... when The Monkees was born! - kk)
You know some people say that The Beatles' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was NOT their first American television appearance ... and they'll site a short clip that aired on The Jack Paar Show two weeks before ... but that clip didn't really show The Beatles performing ... it showed the fans turning up at the airport to greet The Beatles and made fun of their unusual hairstyles. In fact, right before their Sullivan appearance, Walter Cronkite had run a short newsreel clip of the pandemonium of Beatlemania at a European appearance ... but The Beatles' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was their first LIVE appearance on American television ... and this is the one that we all know gave rise to Beatlemania here in full-blown fashion. The Beatles only made four live appearances on Ed Sullivan ... the original three as stipulated by their contract signed in 1963 and a fourth appearance in 1965 that aired just prior to their appearance at Shea Stadium.
kk: Right ... this was the one where Paul performed "Yesterday" completely solo without the other three ... something ELSE that was unheard of for the time. And then Ed went on to introduce them at Shea Stadium, too.
AS: Ed seemed to have a real rapport with The Beatles ... and certainly they were appreciative of the exposure his program brought them inAmerica. Sullivan Productions produced the Beatles’ Shea Stadium concert and the film that was made of the historic event. Even though they never appeared again live on his program, they would send in films of themselves, performing their latest hit records ... videos like "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" ... some of the very first rock music videos really ... they stayed connected to The Ed Sullivan Show for the rest of their careers. They had miming laws in Great Britain that didn't allow an artist to lip-sync their records on television so The Beatles started making music video clips of their latest hit singles ... and several of these aired here first in America on The Ed Sullivan Show.
You can own the complete collection of The Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show ...
Check it out here: Click here: The Beatles | Ed Sullivan Show
KENT KOTAL / FORGOTTEN HITS: Ed has said in past interviews that one of his missions or goals as a host was opening the eyes and ears of his audience to another form of media or entertainment that they might not otherwise have considered. Do you feel he was successful in this regard? (Personally, I think it was probably more likely that our parents may have developed some tolerance for rock and roll than that many 12 and 13 year olds had a sudden craving for opera or Ethel Merman songs!)
ANDREW SOLT: Yes, I think Ed was very successful in this regard. Every program was put together with the thought in mind to offer something for everyone ... and in that respect, he certainly succeeded. Now, maybe we didn't always appreciate some of the highbrow things then, but in hindsight it's interesting to watch some of these programs to see just how diverse they really were. This truly was "variety television" at its very finest.
kk: As the head of SOFA Entertainment, I'm sure that you have felt a need to maintain a rather "unbiased" approach to releasing this material over time. Certainly I would think the best selling material would be that of the broadest appeal ... but I truly do enjoy the option to watch the ENTIRE program as it originally aired, especially with some of the original commercials intact!
AS: That's what’s nice about some of these "specialty" video releases ... you have the option to watch only the music portions featuring a particular artist ... or watch the entire program exactly as it originally aired.
kk: And often with the original commercials!
kk: To some, Ed Sullivan probably seemed as unlikely a television host as anyone ... yet, over time he became not only one of the most parodied celebrities inAmerica but also one of the most iconic. It wasn't at all uncommon to see a comedian like Will Jordan, John Byner, Frank Gorshin or any one of several others do a spot-on imitation of Ed Sullivan ... and right on his own stage!!! His "stone-face" demeanor left pretty much each and every "every man" watching at home feeling like THEY could do his job better than HE could! To what do you attribute Ed's greatest appeal?
AS: Ed knew exactly his place and role in the mix of things. He knew he couldn't sing or dance ... he couldn't tell a joke ... people weren't tuning in each week to see what HE would do ... they were in front of their TV's to see great entertainment ... and Ed's gift was putting together the best mix of talent he could each and every week. He was not only a good variety host, but an excellent producer. If you watch the show closely, you'll see that no set built for any artist is ever used again ... each performance is unique unto itself. A tremendous amount of effort went into insuring that every program looked new and fresh.
kk: If Ed wasn't "Mr. Personality" on stage, there is NO denying his ability to pick the hottest acts for his program. He truly seemed to have his finger on the pulse ofAmerica at all times, despite the fact that he was considerably older than most of the acts he was presenting. One wouldn't necessarily use the word "hip" when describing Ed Sullivan, but the truth is, he was VERY in-tune with what was happening on the current scene. Certainly his background as a newspaper journalist / gossip columnist / and "mc" at several key Broadway andNew York live functions played to his advantage in this regard.
AS: Ed worked as a newspaper columnist before his show, first called "Toast of the Town," hit the airwaves ... and he continued to write a column throughout the series ... as well as two years after the show went off the air. As you stated earlier, he truly became an iconic figure. We also have to give a considerable amount of credit to his son-in-law, Bob Precht, who had a lot to do with booking many of the contemporary acts on the program. I don't know that Bob has really been given his proper "due" in the history of "The Ed Sullivan Show" but he was very instrumental in keeping the program "hip", as you say, and he gave us all that great music during the '60's.
kk: It was the appearance of Elvis Presley on Sullivan's program that ultimately launched it over the top ... but even on his very first show, Sullivan tapped into what the country most wanted to see at the time. Guests on that first "Toast Of The Town" program included Martin and Lewis, the hottest comedy act on the planet at the time. Word is that these guys were playing to near Beatlemania type audiences at every appearance!
AS: At the time "Toast of the Town" came on, there was no hotter act in show business than Martin and Lewis ... again, Ed captured them at exactly the right time ... and of course they would go on to do hit movies together ... and even have their own television series for awhile as part of "The Colgate Comedy Hour".
kk: There is film footage of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis looking out their hotel window to a crowd down below that absolutely rivals Beatlemania-type crowd control ... and Sullivan snagged these guys for his very first program!
AS: I've never seen that footage! Please send me a copy of that if you have it!
kk: I saw it in a Martin and Lewis documentary several years ago. I looked on YouTube but didn't see it posted there. I can only tell you that it truly is incredible ... you see Dean and Jerry looking out their hotel window and there's a crowd on the street the size of what you'd expect to see at a ticker-tape parade! And the crowd is reacting to every move these guys make ... so naturally Jerry is egging them on with all of his goofy gyrations!
AS: I would love to see that clip.
kk: And I think that footage of Martin and Lewis from the very first show needs to be seen again ... certainly for both historical and entertainment value! It's a television milestone!
AS: Sadly, the Martin and Lewis appearance on the very first Sullivan show (June 20, 1948) doesn't exist ... only a still photo does. Wish it did. By the way, there are no kinescopes until November 1948.
kk: It didn't necessarily have to be a hottest music act on the charts ... Sullivan was "tuned in" to the very best comedians ... the hottest show on Broadway ... theater, opera, dance and ballet ... sports legends ... his program had it ALL. And even if a particular celebrity wasn't performing on his program, Sullivan had a way of bringing them into the picture right from the audience where they were often sitting on any given night!
AS: Yes, at any point in time Ed might have a sports figure like Joe Louis or Joe DiMaggio stand up and take a bow ... or Lucille Ball or Diana Ross ... Stars LOVED to go to Ed's shows ... and he sometimes went to great lengths to insure that they had a ticket! In fact, on the program the week before The Beatles' first appearance, Ed can be heard asking his audience, "Coincidentally, if anyone has a ticket for The Beatles on our show next Sunday, could I please borrow it? We need it very badly. " (lol)
kk: That's amazing!!! Over the years, Sullivan brought us other legendary comedy teams ... Martin and Lewis ... Rowan and Martin ... The Smothers Brothers ... all of whom would go on to host their OWN variety television shows! And somebody like Joan Rivers ... who was VERY big on The Ed Sullivan Show, even back in the '60's ... and is probably an even BIGGER star today!!!
AS: Yes, yes!
kk: I was watching one of Joan's clips on your website the other day and our fifteen year old daughter happened to walk in the room and without even looking at the computer ... just hearing her voice ... said "Oh My God, is that Joan Rivers?!?!?" She has crossed over to every generation ... and is more popular than ever.
AS: I believe history will record Joan Rivers as one of the greatest comedians of the past fifty years ... and her audience just continues to grow and grow. She made several appearances on Ed's show and she was always "with it." From day one, Joan’s material was unique, clever and funny!
Ed had the hottest comedians on his program ... and there are even a couple of vintage compilation DVDs available spotlighting the "funny side of things"!!!
Click here: Comedy & Novelty | Ed Sullivan Show
KENT KOTAL / FORGOTTEN HITS: Did you ever get to meet Ed Sullivan? (I know your bio says you purchased the rights from Sullivan's daughter Elizabeth ... but did you ever have the opportunity to meet Ed yourself?)
ANDREW SOLT: No, sadly I never had the pleasure. By the time I met his son-in-law, Bob Precht, Ed had already been gone for several years. His wife Sylvia and his daughter, Betty, were the loves of his life ... they did almost everything together and truly enjoyed each other’s company. When Sylvia passed away in 1973, Ed had very little to live for anymore. His show had already been off the air for two years ... and his constant companion was no longer there for him. He did some specials for CBS and died a short time later ... on October 13, 1974 at the age of 73.
kk: Did the family have any specific requests as to how this material should be handled? Did they have any concerns?
AS: I think Bob & Betty Precht felt I loved and respected the show and Ed’s work and they probably hoped I could keep it out there in TV and home-video land.
kk: Could you EVER have imagined ... in your wildest dreams ... that you would some day become the "keeper" of one of the most sought after video collection in the world?
AS: It really was my favorite television program growing up ... I loved The Ed Sullivan Show ... and I wanted it to be preserved and presented in such a way that other generations could discover it and enjoy it, too. This is a collection that I wanted to share, both with the folks who grew up watching it and the new generations discovering it for the first time. Sure, everyone knows about Elvis' appearance and The Beatles' appearance ... but so many other great artists appeared on Ed's program over the years ... from all walks of the entertainment field. I look at this as a way of giving some of this back to people who, like me, enjoyed it for years on end.
kk: Why has it taken so long to begin releasing this material to the public? Certainly the most receptive audience ... those of us who were THERE watching Ed's program at the time ... has started to dwindle the past several years.
AS: I don't know that it has taken that long ... you have to look over the course of the past twenty years to see that we have made a number of releases available ... probably 40 or 50 in all. Of course the first 20 or so were of the VHS variety, back in the days of video tape machines and VCR's ... but more recently we've been releasing more of this material on DVD, too. There are a number of collectors' sets available through our website, EdSullivan.com (Click here: The Ed Sullivan Show - Official Website for DVD's, CD's & Videos) ... some fine collections. And we've done numerous television specials, too ... first on CBS, naturally, which was home to The Ed Sullivan Showfor so many years ... we did a couple of anniversary specials ... that did very well in the ratings. The first CBS Retrospective was hosted by Carol Burnett and ran in 1991 ... it was one of the top rated shows of the season ... so we did a second one that same year, hosted by Burt Reynolds. And then, after that, we launched the VH-1 Series, "Ed Sullivan’s Rock 'n' Roll Classics" and helped launch the TV Land channel with our "Best of Ed Sullivan" series. More recently, some of the programs have been running on PBS.
There has been a rather steady stream of material coming available. But you have to understand that the licensing takes SO much time ... it isn't like that in Europe or outsideNorth America, where you just pay a flat percent usage fee for the music. Kind of like with CD’s – audio only.
Something like our "Best of Motown on Ed Sullivan" releases that just came out ... or the brand new Rolling Stones set ... took seven or eight years to actually get the product to market because of all of the negotiating and clearances. This material SHOULD have come out years ago ... and you're right, there WAS a bigger market for it then. As more time passes, there are less and less people around who enjoyed "The Ed Sullivan Show" when it originally aired ... but we also find that there is a whole new audience who want to see these vintage, landmark performances, too. So it all balances out in the end.
kk: I know the advent of YouTube has been a real thorn in the side of SOFA Entertainment ... as well it should be. Again, I can't imagine that anyone EVER envisioned a time when this long-lost media would develop such a cult following all these years later.
AS: Our company, SOFA Entertainment, has its own YouTube Channel ... and we post some of the footage that is available from our archives. We now offer some of this material through sources like iTunes, where we probably have something like 250 video clips available for $1.99 each ... it's all part of the new technology and the way that people enjoy music today. Besides the video clips, we probably have about 300 audio clips up as well ... live performances from The Ed Sullivan Show available for downloading.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Ed Sullivan Show YouTube Channel has something like 139 "teaser" clips posted on it ... many of these will also take you to the EdSullivan.com website (Click here: The Ed Sullivan Show - Official Website for DVD's, CD's & Videos) where you can buy the DVD compilation containing these clips.
Here's a link to the Ed Sullivan You Tube Channel:
In addition, there are over 200 additional full-length clips available for downloading on iTunes. The opportunity currently exists to build one hell of an Ed Sullivan Video Library of your very own at this time ... and more releases are expected in the years to come!
kk: There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1100 HOURS of Sullivan television footage in your library. Have these all been cataloged to the extend that some complete listing now exists as to exactly who appeared on each and every program? Is what you have in your library a complete accounting of the entire series or have some tapes and footage been lost over the years?
AS: We are very fortunate to have 1,050 complete episodes of The Ed Sullivan Show in our library, dating all the way back to the 1948 "Toast of the Town" programs. So many television shows from the dawn of TV don't exist anymore ... or there may be only a handful of episodes available at most ... but nearly every hour ever broadcast of Ed Sullivan is still intact ... complete programs. I think in all something like 30 episodes may still be missing ... and this is a program that aired from June 20th of 1948 through March 28th of 1971. That's pretty much unheard of today. The Ed Sullivan Show was the longest running prime time variety program in the history of television!
kk: We've heard stories over the years about some GREAT programming that was lost because of improper storage procedures ... or, worse yet, networks erasing and recording over the same tapes as a cost-saving measure. Then again, television was still so new back then, I don't know that anybody really knew for sure what was going to catch on or remain valuable so many years later.
AS: A lot of shows from this era don't exist anymore ... Steve Allen ... Milton Berle ... even some of the early Johnny Carson shows are lost forever. Ed insisted that every show be preserved ... and it's thanks to his insistence ... and persistence ... that we have all these fine programs around today.
kk: I know TV.com (Click here: The Ed Sullivan Show Season 24 Episode Guide - TV.com ) has an episode guide listing EVERY single episode of The Ed Sullivan Show ... it's nearly 200 pages long if you print it out (and I have!!!) Have you ever checked this for accuracy to see just how legitimate it really is? Certainly you must have cataloged every episode in your collection at some point in time. (And, if not, I would LOVE the opportunity to help in some fashion to do so!)
AS: Everything has been cataloged down to the finest detail. A list like what you refer to on TV.com is accurate to a point ... but a lot of these guests and appearances were based on information taken from TV Guide, not the actual broadcasts, and you have to remember that TV Guide was printed sometimes three to four weeks in advance back then. Acts cancelled all the time ... new acts were booked at the very last minute if they had a hot record out or an act suddenly became unavailable. Since this was a live show ... if a show ran long, some guest might not get the chance to perform the second song they were scheduled to perform on any given night. So yes, they're accurate as a guide ... but they are nowhere near as precise as our own records, which are literally "to the second" logs of actual shows as they were broadcast. We have built a thorough database of the Sullivan library -- details about every artist, performance, date and running time on all the shows. On the handful of shows that are missing, we only know who appeared in those episodes, but the specifics are often missing. So it is not like we haven't archived the 1,050 hours, because we have. It took a couple of years and a team of capable people dedicated to the task.
kk: It seems like there's a book in here somewhere ... imagine the COMPLETE detailed program guide ... every show ... every guest ... what they did ... still shots, accompanied by a 20 DVD Set showing some of the highlights from this era! I would think that would become a true collectors item! A pricey project, to be sure ... but something I could see fans and devotees wanting to add to their personal collections.
SOFA Entertainment has been very good about putting together television specials and tributes to The Ed Sullivan Show, keeping the name and the legacy out there for the public to enjoy and discover. Some of these things have run on VH1 (The Ed Sullivan Years being one example, which I have as a deluxe 9-DVD box set) ... some of the recent PBS Fund-Raising Television Specials ... and, of course, now a whole new line of DVDs available for purchase for fans' home libraries. Some of the most popular releases have been the compilations featuring each and every appearance by Elvis Presley and / or The Beatles. Brand new recent releases include DVD Box Sets spotlighting the entire Ed Sullivan television history of The Rolling Stones ... The Supremes ... and The Temptations ... as well as a tribute to Motown. Are more releases of this nature planned for the future? (And what can you tell us about them?)
AS: We have several new ideas in the works but I don't like to talk about them in advance because then if they don't really happen it’s wrong and some people may wonder "What did you talk about that for? It didn’t happen." I'd rather concentrate on the new releases that ARE available ... like those that you just mentioned ... all of the shows featuring The Rolling Stones or the new Motown releases. And we've got some GREAT collections available through our website, too, like "Ed Sullivan's Rock And Roll Classics", a now 12 DVD Set that I'm sure your readers would enjoy … About 18 hours of timeless rock ‘n’ roll … A great collection!
During our email exchanges, I asked Andrew if there was even a chance of some of what we consider to be our "Forgotten Hits" artists showing up on some of these home video compilations ... I was quite surprised to find that a collection much like the one I "dreamed" of already existed! Read on ...
kk: The DVD's currently available feature special compilations derived around a specific theme ... Comedy Legends ... The British Invasion ... Broadway ... The Arts (encompassing ballet, opera and theater) ... Rock And Roll ... but these typically spotlight the very biggest names in show business. Anything planned for some of the "one-off" appearances by very popular artists like The Doors, The Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival? And even lesser known names of acts who were more or less simply passing through at the time? (We'd love to see some attention paid to some of our favorite Forgotten Hits artists like The Buckinghams, Spanky and Our Gang, The Grass Roots, The Association, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Tommy James and the Shondells, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, Steppenwolf, Dino, Desi and Billy, The Turtles, Blood, Sweat and Tears, The Cowsills, The Young Rascals, Paul Revere and the Raiders, as well as popular '60's artists like The Mamas and the Papas, The Fifth Dimension, The Beach Boys, The Dave Clark Five, The Four Seasons, Petula Clark, Dionne Warwick ... and many others who appeared on Ed's program often enough to consider The Ed Sullivan Show "home". Much like The Motown Legends box release, we'd LOVE to see more of the main-stream artist appearances ... and in unedited form. (A 9-CD release like "The Ed Sullivan Years", good as it was, tends to get redundant in that a few of the exact same appearances come up more than once spread across so many themes ... and many of these have been edited from their original length.)
I'm thinking more of a series specifically dedicated to a certain genre of music ... or, how 'bout this ... a "Best of 1964" edition, a "Best of 1965" edition, etc., etc., etc. In fact, you could launch an entire series like this by going all the way back to 1955 with Bill Haley and the Comets' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, performing "Rock Around The Clock!" It would trace the history of the program as well as the evolution of rock and roll music ... in fact, a series such as this could become the very DEFINITION of the evolution of rock and roll music, documented for all to enjoy in its original glory!
AS: Regarding some of the artists you mention that you would like to see available to the public, please see our website where we offer a lot of the performances you refer to in a 36 half-hour set on 12 DVDs (Ed Sullivan's Rock n Roll Classics). Here you will find a thorough listing of the song lists included in the 18 hours.
Please know that in addition to the performances on our available DVDs (on the site), we have made available about 250 videos from the Sullivan archive on iTunes so you can check that out, too. It includes numberous performances we don't have in the 200+ songs on the DVD list tied to this link. Between the two (DVDs and iTunes) probably 90% of the best performers and performances from the rock and pop in the library are available to the public. (BTW, this took years and millions of dollars to clear, prepare and make available). Also keep in mind that we can't just use what we want, when we want. Legal factors impinge sometimes on decisions so that is always the X factor. I am sure you understand. Again, thanks for your interest and your attention to The Ed Sullivan Show and its rich music legacy.
The tracking listing for The Ed Sullivan Show Rock And Roll Classics Compilation is nothing short of OUTSTANDING!!! You have GOT to check this out:
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HALL OF FAME
1. Elvis Presley – “DON’T BE CRUEL”
2. The Beatles – “ALL MY LOVING”
3. The Beach Boys – “WENDY”
4. The Doors – “LIGHT MY FIRE”
5. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “FORTUNATE SON”
6. James Brown – “IT’S A MAN’S MAN’S MAN’S WORLD”
SMASH HITS OF THE SIXTIES
1. The Beatles – “I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND”
2. The Beach Boys – “I GET AROUND”
3. The Mamas & The Papas – “CALIFORNIA DREAMING”
4. Petula Clark – “DOWNTOWN”
5. The 4 Seasons – “BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY”
6. Tommy James & The Shondells – “CRIMSON AND CLOVER”
7. The Mamas & The Papas – “MONDAY, MONDAY”
MOTOR CITY MAGIC
1. Four Tops – “BERNADETTE” (MEDLEY W/ “REACH OUT” & “SUGAR PIE”)
2. The Jackson 5 – “I WANT YOU BACK (ONE MORE CHANCE)”
3. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “I SECOND THAT EMOTION”
4. The Supremes – “IN AND OUT OF LOVE”
5. Stevie Wonder – “FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE”
6. The Temptations – “GET READY”
ROCK LEGENDS – 1
1. Elvis Presley – “HOUND DOG”
2. James Brown – med: “PAPA’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG” “I FEEL GOOD”
3. Buddy Holly – “PEGGY SUE”
4. Jerry Lee Lewis – ” WHAT’D I SAY”
5. Fats Domino – “BLUEBERRY HILL”
6. Bo Diddley – “BO DIDDLEY”
7. Elvis Presley – “DON’T BE CRUEL”
MOVE TO THE MUSIC
1. The Beatles – “TWIST AND SHOUT”
2. Jerry Lee Lewis – “WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN’ GOING ON”
3. Martha & the Vandellas – “DANCIN’ IN THE STREETS”
4. Jay & The Techniques – “KEEP THE BALL ROLLING”
5. Jackie Wilson – “THAT’S WHY”
6. Freddie & The Dreamers – “DO THE FREDDIE”
7. Sly & The Family Stone – “DANCE TO THE MUSIC”
R & B GREATS
1. The Ike And Tina Turner Revue – “PROUD MARY”
2. Jackie Wilson – “LONELY TEARDROPS”
3. Stevie Wonder – “Fingertips”
4. James Brown – medley: “PLEASE, PLEASE” “PAPA’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG”
5. The Temptations – “I CAN’T GET NEXT TO YOU”
THE BRITISH INVASION – 1
1. The Beatles – “SHE LOVES YOU”
2. The Animals – “HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN”
3. The Rolling Stones – “HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR MOTHER…”
4. Herman’s Hermits – “MRS. BROWN, YOU’VE GOT A LOVELY DAUGHTER”
5. The Searchers – “NEEDLES AND PINS”
6. Gerry & The Pacemakers – “DON’T LET THE SUN CATCH YOU CRYING”
7. The Animals – “WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE”
THE SAN FRANCISCO SCENE
1. Jefferson Airplane – “CROWN OF CREATION”
2. Santana – “PERSUASION”
3. Janis Joplin – “RAISE YOUR HAND”
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “DOWN ON THE CORNER”
5. Sly & The Family Stone – “EVERYDAY PEOPLE”/”DANCE TO THE MUSIC”
CLASSIC LOVE SONGS
1. The Beatles – “FROM ME TO YOU”
2. The Carpenters – “CLOSE TO YOU”
3. Little Anthony & The Imperials – “HURT SO BAD”
4. The 5th Dimension – “WEDDING BELL BLUES”
5. Smokey Robinson – “Yesterday”
6. Elvis Presley – “LOVE ME TENDER”
1. The Doors – “LIGHT MY FIRE”
2. Jefferson Airplane – “CROWN OF CREATION”
3. Steppenwolf – “BORN TO BE WILD” “MAGIC CARPET RIDE”
4. Vanilla Fudge – “KEEP ME HANGING ON”
5. The Temptations – “PSYCHEDELIC SHACK”
1. Young Rascals – “GROOVIN’”
2. The Turtles – “HAPPY TOGETHER”
3. Young Rascals – “GOOD LOVIN’”
4. Spanky & Our Gang – “SUNDAY WILL NEVER BE THE SAME”
5. The 5th Dimension – “STONED SOUL PICNIC”
6. Oliver - “GOOD MORNING STARSHINE”
7. The Beach Boys – “GOOD VIBRATIONS”
1. The Beatles – “HELP!”
2. The Bee Gees – “WORDS”
3. The Byrds – “MR. TAMBOURINE MAN”
4. Four Tops – “IT’S ALL IN THE GAME”
5. The Temptations – medley: “MY GIRL” “I KNOW I’M LOSING YOU”
6. The Rolling Stones – “(I CAN’T GET NO) SATISFACTION”
TOP HITS OF 1965
1. Sonny & Cher – “I GOT YOU BABE”
2. Tom Jones – “IT’S NOT UNUSUAL”
3. Four Tops – “SAME OLD SONG” “SUGAR PIE” & “SOMETHING ABOUT YOU”
4. The 4 Seasons – “LET’S HANG ON!”
5. The Lovin’ Spoonful – “DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC”
6. Herman’s Hermits – “I’M HENRY THE VIII, I AM”
TOP HITS OF 1966
1. The Rolling Stones – “PAINT IT, BLACK”
2. The Animals – “DON’T BRING ME DOWN”
3. The Association – “ALONG CAME MARY”
4. The Mamas & The Papas – “MONDAY, MONDAY”
5. Lou Rawls – “LOVE IS A HURTIN’ THING”
6. The Supremes – “MY WORLD IS EMPTY WITHOUT YOU”
TOP HITS OF 1967
1. The Rolling Stones – “RUBY TUESDAY”
2. The Association – “NEVER MY LOVE”
3. The Supremes – “THE HAPPENING”
4. Johnny Rivers – “BABY I NEED YOUR LOVIN’”
5. The Mamas & The Papas – “CREEQUE ALLEY”
TOP HITS OF 1968
1. The Beach Boys – “DO IT AGAIN”
2. The Chambers Brothers – “TIME HAS COME TODAY”
3. Tom Jones – “DELILAH”
4. Gary Puckett & The Union Gap – “LADY WILLPOWER”
5. Spanky & Our Gang – “LIKE TO GET TO KNOW YOU”
6. Tommy James & The Shondells – “MONY MONY”
TOP HITS OF 1969
1. Brooklyn Bridge – “WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN”
2. Smith – “BABY IT’S YOU”
3. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “PROUD MARY”
4. Oliver – “JEAN”
5. The 5th Dimension – “AQUARIUS/LET THE SUN SHINE IN”
TOP HITS OF 1970
1. The Jackson 5 – “THE LOVE YOU SAVE”
2. The Supremes – “SOMEDAY WE’LL BE TOGETHER”
3. The Carpenters – “WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN”
4. The Grass Roots – “TEMPTATION EYES”
5. B.J. Thomas – “RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING ON MY HEAD”
6. The 5th Dimension – “ONE LESS BELL TO ANSWER”
7. The Jackson 5 – “I WANT YOU BACK”
FIRST WOMEN OF ROCK
1. Diana Ross & The Supremes – “LOVE CHILD”
2. Janis Joplin – “RAISE YOUR HAND”
3. Dusty Springfield – “SON-OF-A PREACHER MAN”
4. Gladys Knight & The Pips – “IF I WERE YOUR WOMAN”
5. Janis Joplin – “MAYBE, MAYBE, MAYBE”
6. The Supremes – “YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE”
1. The Band – “UP ON CRIPPLE CREEK”
2. The Byrds – “TURN, TURN, TURN”
3. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “DOWN ON THE CORNER”
4. The Lovin’ Spoonful – “DAYDREAM”
5. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “ABRAHAM, MARTIN & JOHN”
THE SWEET SOUND OF SOUL
1. The Supremes – “COME SEE ABOUT ME”
2. The Jackson Five – “ABC” & “I WANT YOU BACK
3. Four Tops – “Reach Out and I’ll Be There”
4. James Brown – “PRISONER OF LOVE”
5. The Righteous Bros. – “TURN ON YOUR LOVE LIGHT”
6. The Temptations – “RUN AWAY CHILD, RUNNING WILD”
LENNON & McCARTNEY SONGBOOK
1. The Beatles - “TICKET TO RIDE”
2. Bobby Rydell – “WORLD WITHOUT LOVE”
3. Peter & Gordon – “I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN”
4. Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas – “BAD TO ME”
5. Petula Clark – “Fool on the Hill”
6. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “YESTERDAY”
BRITISH INVASION – 2
1. The Beatles – “I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND”
2. The Rolling Stones – “TIME IS ON MY SIDE”
3. Herman’s Hermits – “JUST A LITTLE BIT BETTER”
4. The Animals – “SHAKE”
5. Gerry & The Pacemakers – “FERRY CROSS THE MERSEY”
6. Freddie & The Dreamers – “I’M TELLING YOU NOW”
1. Elvis Presley – “DON’T BE CRUEL”
2. Elvis Presley – “READY TEDDY”
3. Elvis Presley – “TOO MUCH”
4. Elvis Presley – “WHEN MY BLUE MOON TURNS TO GOLD AGAIN”
5. Elvis Presley – “HOUND DOG”
6. Elvis Presley – “PEACE IN THE VALLEY”
SOUNDS OF THE CITIES
1. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue - “PROUD MARY”
2. James Brown – “IT’S A MAN’S MAN’S MAN’S WORLD”
3. Gladys Knight & The Pips – “I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE”
4. Sam & Dave – “I THANK YOU”
5. Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – “GOODY GOODY”
6. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue – “BOLD SOUL SISTER”
THE BAD BOYS OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
1. The Rolling Stones – “(I CAN’T GET NO) SATISFACTION”
2. The Animals – “DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD”
3. James Brown – “PAPA’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG” “I FEEL GOOD”
4. Jerry Lee Lewis – “WHOLE LOT OF SHAKIN’ GOING ON”
5. Bo Diddley – “BO DIDDLEY”
6. The Animals – “BRING IT ON HOME TO ME”
1. The Supremes – “COME SEE ABOUT ME”
2. The Supremes – “LOVE IS LIKE AN ITCHING IN MY HEART”
3. Diana Ross and The Supremes – “I’M LIVIN’ IN SHAME”
4. Diana Ross and The Supremes – “FOREVER CAME TODAY”
5. Diana Ross and The Supremes – “NO MATTER WHAT SIGN YOU ARE”
6. The Supremes (w/out Diana) – “UP THE LADDER TO THE ROOF”
ROCK LEGENDS – 2
1. Elvis Presley – “TOO MUCH”
2. Buddy Holly – “THAT’LL BE THE DAY”
3. James Brown – “PRISONER OF LOVE”
4. Bo Diddley – “BO DIDDLEY”
5. Fats Domino – “LET THE FOUR WINDS BLOW”
6. Jackie Wilson – “I’M COMIN’ ON BACK TO YOU”
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL LOVE SONGS
1. The Beatles – “SHE LOVES YOU”
2. The 5th Dimension – “WEDDING BELL BLUES”
3. Lulu – “TO SIR WITH LOVE”
4. Brooklyn Bridge – “WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN”
5. Jackie Wilson – “NIGHT”
6. Little Anthony & The Imperials – “TEARS ON MY PILLOW”
THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS
1. The Mamas & The Papas – “CREEQUE ALLEY”
2. The Mamas & The Papas – “DEDICATED TO THE ONE I LOVE”
3. The Mamas & The Papas – “TWELVE THIRTY”
4. The Mamas & The Papas – “MONDAY, MONDAY”
5. The Mamas & The Papas – “I CALL YOUR NAME”
6. The Mamas & The Papas – “CALIFORNIA DREAMING”
GONE TOO SOON
1. Janis Joplin – “MAYBE”
2. Elvis Presley – “PEACE IN THE VALLEY”
3. Buddy Holly – “OH, BOY!”
4. The Mamas & The Papas – “WORDS OF LOVE”
5. Bobby Darin – “MACK THE KNIFE”
6. Carpenters – “WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN”
1. Elvis Presley – “READY TEDDY”
2. Bobby Rydell – “WORLD WITHOUT LOVE”
3. Dino, Desi & Billy – “NOT THE LOVIN’ KIND”
4. Tom Jones – “IT’S NOT UNUSUAL”
5. Paul Anka – “DIANA”
6. Bobby Darin – “DREAM LOVER”
WEST COAST ROCK
1. The Byrds – “TURN, TURN, TURN”
2. The Mamas & The Papas – “CALIFORNIA DREAMING”
3. The 5th Dimension – “CALIFORNIA SOUL”
4. The Turtles – “SHE’D RATHER BE WITH ME”
5. The Friends of Distinction – “GRAZING IN THE GRASS”
6. The Beach Boys – “I GET AROUND”
1. The Supremes – “LOVE IS LIKE AN ITCHING IN MY HEART”
2. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “DOGGONE RIGHT”
3. The Jackson 5 – “WHO’S LOVIN’ YOU”
4. Stevie Wonder – “YOU MET YOUR MATCH”
5. Diana Ross & The Supremes – “LOVE CHILD”
6. The Temptations – “I’M GONNA MAKE YOU LOVE ME”
LEGENDS OF SOUL
1. Stevie Wonder – “FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE”
2. Marvin Gaye – “TAKE THIS HEART OF MINE”
3. The 5th Dimension – “UP, UP AND AWAY”
4. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “I SECOND THAT EMOTION”
5. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue – “BOLD SOUL SISTER”
6. Jackie Wilson – “LONELY TEARDROPS”
1.The Temptations – “JUST MY IMAGINATION (RUNNING AWAY WITH ME)”
2. The Temptations – “DON’T LOOK BACK”
3. The Temptations – “SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN”
4. The Temptations – “YOU’VE MADE ME SO VERY HAPPY”
5. The Temptations – “RUN AWAY CHILD, RUNNING WILD”
6. The Temptations – “I CAN’T GET NEXT TO YOU”
You'll find the "order link" for this INCREDIBLE collection above ... quite honestly, you couldn't start your own personal Ed Sullivan home library at a better spot! (kk)
KENT KOTAL / FORGOTTEN HITS: Several artists made multiple appearances on The Sullivan Show. (The Dave Clark Five immediately come to mind ... I believe in all they made something like a dozen appearances on Ed's program.) Herman's Hermits would be another artist in that group of "repeat" performers. Maybe something like a definitive British Invasion Box Set would be in order ... there could be half a dozen disks featuring the likes of The Kinks, The Hollies, Peter and Gordon, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Petula Clark, etc, etc, etc, etc ... and then maybe a few other artist-specific disks spotlighting artists like The Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermits ... similar to those currently available spotlighting The Beatles and The Stones.)
ANDREW SOLT: Actually we did a show on the British Invasion and Graham Nash and Michelle Phillips hosted it. The Ed Sullivan Show achieved some of its highest ratings during the British Invasion and Ed had everybody on those years ... from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to Herman's Hermits and The Dave Clark Five ... The Animals, Petula Clark, Peter and Gordon. Unfortunately, he never had The Kinks or The Hollies on his program. Our take was the British Invasion lands andAmerica fights back so we included The Byrds, The Supremes, James Brown, The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Mamas and The Papas.
kk: Seriously? I could have sworn I'd seen The Hollies on the show. In fact, I have a copy of that Ed Sullivan DVD that is hosted by Michelle and Graham Nash, and there's a Hollies performance clip on that DVD!
AS: We had to license that track because we wanted to show Graham performing with The Hollies. Graham and Michelle did an EXCELLENT job hosting this program ... this was another one of the CBS Specials ... and we wanted to have a Hollies song on there (as well as a Mamas and Papas song, of course) ... so I had to license that clip from another source. I first met Graham when he and David Crosby provided the music for one of my Jacques Cousteau television specials. But it’s sad to say, The Hollies never appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show ... nor did The Kinks. These were two great ones that got away! Same with The Who.
kk: Likewise, vintage 1950's footage would make for an awesome collection ... The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley and the Comets, Johnny Cash, and some of the artists who made only one or two appearances like ... this material has grown rarer and rarer over the years ... yet I believe there is a lucrative market out there for this long-unseen footage.
AS: Many of these artists do appear on our compilation videos. Bobby Darin, Sam Cooke, Lloyd Price, Jackie Wilson, James Brown ... and many other greats ... and, of course, let’s not forget the man who started it all – Elvis!
kk: Typically, we get one clip of these artists on a DVD ... but many of them made multiple appearances on Ed's program and performed two or three songs ... an early Rock And Roll compilation series would allow some of this seldom-seen footage to become available again. Elvis, of course, was the one that put the show over the top. Again, Ed had a remarkable eye for talent.
AS: We have to understand that booking Elvis Presley was in a way a ratings decision. Ed had stated earlier that he would NEVER allow Presley to appear on his program – he said that he didn't feel Elvis was right for his show. However, he then witnessed reactions and ratings from of some of Elvis' other television appearances. Before he went on The Ed Sullivan Show, Elvis had already been on other programs like Steve Allen, Milton Berle and The Dorsey Brothers ... so Ed was NOT the first television host to bring Elvis Presley into America’s living rooms ... yet it seems to be The Ed Sullivan Show appearances are often what people remember most. History was made on Sullivan and his audience was by far the biggest. So Ed finally gave in ... Ed knew that by booking him on his program, Elvis would deliver huge ratings ... so he agreed to pay Colonel Parker's then unheard of, outrageous fee of $50,000 for three performances. And, exactly as expected, Elvis delivered 60+ million viewers on September 9, 1956 – his first Sullivan show. I'm sure Ed and CBS considered it money well spent at the time.
The complete history of Elvis Presley's performances on The Ed Sullivan Show can be found here: Click here: Elvis Presley | Ed Sullivan Show
kk: Of course on The Steve Allen Show, Elvis dressed in a tux and sang "Hound Dog" ... to a hound dog!!! Ed at least treated these artists with a lot more respect.
AS: Ed genuinely liked Elvis. Even when the network censors decided that Elvis could only be filmed from the waist up on his last Sullivan appearance, Ed made it a point of coming over afterwards and thanking Elvis, telling the audience and the world that he had never had a more pleasant experience than working with this fine, fine young gentleman. He called Presley "a real decent, fine boy" and because of his credibility with the public, parents relaxed their views about Elvis and were less inclined to say he was a bad influence, kind of a juvenile delinquent leading their children down the destructive path of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
kk: Obviously there were lots of other competing programs on the air at the time where a popular recording artist could go to perform their latest hit. Do you have any idea as to how Ed Sullivan viewed his competition at the time? And how did he manage to stay ahead of the trends week after week after week? Surely he was booking acts well in advance ... yet his show ALWAYS seemed to have that "immediacy" feel to it.
AS: Ed had a great eye and ear for talent ... but you also have to give a tremendous amount of credit to Bob Precht, his son-in-law, a producer on the program who helped book some of the finest acts over the years. Bob became a tremendous asset to the whole operation and he, too, knew exactly what was hot at the time. Personally, I don't think his contribution to the program has ever been properly and fully recognized.
As for the competition, Ed was always aware of his competition, meaning the programs on against him in the same timeslot. Over the years, these included programs like The Steve Allen Show ... (Ed was determined to beat Steve in the weekly ratings, which he often did) ... Maverick ... The F.B.I. ... and his fiercest competition, The Wonderful World Of Disney. That was probably the toughest competition he ever faced ... and THAT was a reason for introducing Topo Gigio on a regular basis! Ed wanted a character developed that would appeal to the kids ... so Topo Gigio became a regular fixture on Sunday nights for the kids.
But if you mean competition from other music shows like Shindig or Hullabaloo or Shivaree or American Bandstand ... no, I think Ed paid little attention to these programs ... but he paid a TREMENDOUS amount of attention to the programs he was up against in the Sunday night at 8 pm timeslot.
kk: LOL ... so Ed figured he would fight Walt Disney Mouse to Mouse, eh?!?! Looking at the year-end ratings of The Rock And Roll Era, The Ed Sullivan Show placed in The Top Ten the majority of these years ... #3 in 1955, #2 in 1956 ... between 1955 and 1971 when the show went off the air, The Ed Sullivan Show finished in The Top 20 eleven times out of 17 years! The show that featured The Beatles' first appearance remains the highest rated show of the entire 23 year series!
AS: Ed usually delivered impressive and steady ratings. Even if his wasn't the top rated show, he still drew a loyal, sizable audience week after week.
kk: You mentioned the censors earlier in regards to Elvis Presley ... but Ed is known for HIS censorship with some of the rock acts, too. It's a matter of legend now that he got The Rolling Stones to change the lyrics of "Let's Spend The Night Together" to "Let's Spend Some Time Together" ... he also insisted that Jim Morrison of The Doors NOT sing the line about "getting higher", only to have Morrison confound Sullivan during the live broadcast by singing exactly that ... at which point an absolutely FURIOUS Ed Sullivan proclaimed that The Doors would never appear on his program again. (And they never did!)
Ed certainly had his favorites (the often-asked-back Supremes, The Mamas and the Papas and The Dave Clark Five immediately come to mind) ... did he find it much more difficult deciding on what acts to book as rock and roll became more rebellious?
AS: Bob Dylan was scheduled to appear on Ed's program one week but walked off the stage during the rehearsal when he was told that he couldn't sing "Talkin' John Birch Society Blues" ... and he never came back. But Ed had on acts like Janis Joplin and The Jefferson Airplane ... Santana and Creedence Clearwater Revival ... The Band and Vanilla Fudge ... heavier artists that you might not normally expect to see on a variety program such as his.
One thing that a lot of people don't know is that Ed and his staff had battles occasionally with his censors, as well as Ford / Lincoln / Mercury dealers in the South about the number of African-American acts he had on his program. When Ed wouldn’t back down, several of the dealers threatened to leave the show. It almost went down but Ed stood his ground and the show went on to new heights. Ed especially loved black performers and, as such, built a wide audience by booking many of the Motown acts and artists like Sam Cooke and Sammy Davis, Jr. ... Ray Charles, James Brown and comedians like Richard Pryor ... artists like Nat King Cole, Lena Horne, Pearl Bailey and Moms Mabley ... these were performers you didn't see on a lot of other television programs at the time. If you were talented Ed didn’t care what color your skin was. Behind the scenes, Ed sometimes fought with his sponsors, who threatened to pull out because he seemed to favor some of these "race" artists. Perhaps the most controversial episode came when he had singer Harry Belafonte on his show. Harry was doing one of his calypso numbers and there were a number of girls dancing behind him as he sat on a stool performing his song. Ed received ALL kinds of angry and threatening letters ... it was UNHEARD OF to have a white woman placed behind a black man ... and several sponsors did pull out after this episode aired!
kk: As well-loved and popular an entertainer as Harry Belafonte was, he certainly seemed to cause some controversy over some of his television appearances! In the mid-'60's, there was quite a bit of flack when, during a duet, he took Petula Clark's hand ... and I remember a particular episode of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that never even aired because of its political overtones ... Harry was singing some sort of protest song while, in the background, footage was being shown of the 1968 Democratic Convention which, of course, was COMPLETELY out of hand!!!
AS: And these were many of the same CBS censors that The Ed Sullivan Show went up against from time to time. (In fact, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour eventually followed The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights.) A lot of people also don't know that when Bill "Mr. Bojangles" Robinson died, virtually penniless, Ed paid for the funeral expenses, a major event and motorcade through Harlem, out of his own pocket, because he had such great respect for Robinson, his screen work and talent. If you were a friend of Ed’s, he was loyal for life.
kk: Amazing! Thank you again, Andrew, for taking the time to visit with us today. A very insightful and enlightening look into The Ed Sullivan Show!
AS: Thank you as well. I appreciate your thoroughness and interest in Ed Sullivan and his body of work and its rich music legacy.
kk: It's been a real pleasure!
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