Monday, July 08, 2013

Conclusive Proof That the English Language is Inadequte

From Halloween, 1967, please enjoy a classic clip from Zacherle's Disco-Teen. Live yet lip-synched at the studios of Channel 21 in Newark, N.J.

"The Letter," featuring the teen-aged Alex Chilton.

I should add that approximately five seconds of this clip appear in that new Big Star documentary I've been bugging you about.


Anonymous said...

Chilton is such a doll. And such a punk. Am I mistaken, or does he say "What The Fuck?" to John Evans off camera?

Being from the west coast I haven't experienced much Zacherle. Wow! What a weird dude! Seems pretty incompetent.

Well, at least he didn't ask Evans if he actually played on the records.

Vickie Rock

buzzbabyjesus said...

I grew up on the west coast as well, and this was my first Zacherle experience. He was headscratcingly awful. Alex on the other hand is something else. I think he probably did say "What The Fuck", and if there was anything worth stealing or vandalizing, he was on it.

Anonymous said...

Was that Alex's hand trying to push Zacherle further down on the ground with the great pumpkin? And how about that crack about the motel room? You gotta love it.

This thing is on youtube:

It's live from the Bitter End. Check out Evan's weird guitar. What the fuck is that?

Vickie Rock

buzzbabyjesus said...

I've never seen anything like it.

Anonymous said...

I know!! It's like it has a fin or something!! I've seen a lot of gear in my time, but I've never seen that before.

Vickie Rock

Mark said...

Zacherle's Disco-Teen was actually on Channel 47 (in Newark, NJ, and now T47, branded as Telemundo). Disco-Teen followed a run for Zacherle as a host on various WPIX (Channell 11 in NYC) cartoon and movie shows.

Since Channel 47 in Newark was UHF, and the FCC didn't require that TV sets in the U.S. be sold with a UHF receiver (for then channels 14-83), and that TV-set owners in the 1960s didn't replace TV sets, but instead repaired them when they failed, Disco-Teen was barely visible in the NY market.

And since Zacherle booked some strange rock acts -- I recall the NY Rock and Roll Ensemble performing on Zach's shows -- this was frustrating to me, a teenager living in Queens, NY.

And as far as Disco-Teen's production values went, this was what third-rate live and local TV looked like in 1967.

Finally, Zacherle's on-stage character was besides the point, Sure, the performance here -- with the Box Tops -- looks strange, and at times, terrible, but that was what local no-budget TV looked like at the time, and even 16-year olds like myself and my friends knew so, and consequently, when we could see Disco-Teen, cut it a hell of a lot of slack.

Brooklyn Girl said...

And then there was Uncle Floyd:

Jerry Lee said...

There certainly was! I saw Marshall Crenshaw on Uncle Floyd once, the guitars weren't plugged in, and the drummer had no drumsticks! There were enjoying it.

Anonymous said...


To the best of your recollection did anyone ever perform live on Disco-Teen? How long did it run?

It is unusual that it was running on UHF. But maybe this wasn't uncommon for the tri-state area.

In southern California we never had a youth music oriented show on UHF until Elliot Mintz's Head Shop. And that was probably around 1970.

We did have a lot of locally produced shows like 9th Street West, Hollywood A Go Go, Lloyd Thaxton, Shivaree, Shebang, Groovy and other lesser knowns.

How many of these shows were syndicated to the East Coast? Anyone?

Vickie Rock

Mark said...


Zacherley claims Disco-Teen ran three years (see Because of where I lived (in Queens, NY), and because at the time, UHF channels (like 47 in NJ, where Disco-Teen was produced) were the stepchildren of the broadcast industry, I didn't get to see too many Disco-Teen episodes. And for the most part, only the big boys (Ed Sullivan, the Tonight Show, etc.) had the production tools to allow occasional real live performances. I do recall how surprised I was to see Eric Burdon and the Animals perform (and not lip-sync) WHEN I WAS YOUNG on the old Mike Douglas afternoon TV show in 1967, but Mike Douglas was produced in Cleveland at a Westinghouse station that was part of a Westinghouse group of stations that had access to AT&T long lines distribution.

Lloyd Thaxton's syndicated show DID make it to NYC, but I can't recall on which channel or for how long. I also remember that he hosted a number of daytime game shows that didn't last too long.

The rest of the shows you list I've either heard of or read about, but I don't think (and can't recall whether) any of them made their way to NYC.

Network distribution before and throughout the 1960s was a VERY expensive proposition that was primarily limited to the (then) three networks -- and some group station owners -- and was made possible at considerable cost by AT&T's long lines division. These were the heady pre-satellite-distribution days of network television, where the cost of designing and setting up ad hoc networks for the distribution of live, local and independent TV was prohibitive. And "research" meant going to the library, and "virtual" meant "somewhat like it is described."

Sure, if a local station were affiliated with a network, then it was possible for the station to "offer" its local and live show to other network affiliates. But if it were an independent, or an independent in a small-ish market, or as was the case with Disco-Teen, all of the above AND on a channel that few home sets were capable of getting -- at the time -- there was NO chance that it was to be distributed.

in 2013, satellite distribution makes it possible for pretty much anyone to distribute anything from one TV station to another or a group of others. And within five years, IP/TCP distribution will make it possible for anyONE to distribute anything video to anyone else at little expense. Beats me as to who's going to pay for content, but hey! That's somebody else's problem.

Anonymous said...


Did you ever get to see the NY Rock & Roll Ensemble on Disco-Teen? I seem to remember them on a Leonard Bernstein Young People's Concert circa the 1st album. That, of course, was live.

I also remember the Animals live on Douglas. Did they do a second number? Douglas had made it to the west coast by that time. We also had Upbeat but much later than Cleveland, obviously.

Boss City was another show in Los Angeles which I failed to mention.

Also around 1967-1968 Pat Boone had a talk show which sometimes featured live performances, Pink Floyd, even. But mostly it was local stuff like the Sunshine Company, October Country, Stone Poneys, Merry-Go-Round, etc.

I met Pat Boone once at the Beverly Center, which is a shopping mall in L.A. He was a lot cooler than I thought he'd be. I flagged him down and told him how I liked "Moody River" when I was a little kid.

He took me by the hand and seemed thrilled. He led me to a bench and we sat there chatting for a bit. Then he sang the entire song, I joined in when I remembered the words, sometimes in unison, sometimes harmony.

Then I told him that my mom had one of his old gospel albums and the only song I remembered was "He Leadeth Me." Again we broke out in song.

When we finished singing, I asked him if he wanted to smoke a joint. He thought that was the funniest thing in the world. He laughed so hard he could hardly control himself. I guess it was pretty funny.

I asked him about his old short-lived talk show and he had a very clear memory about it. All that clean living I guess. But he was a genuinely nice person.

Sure he's ultra-white, but he had a pretty good sense of humor about it. And believe me, I razzed him. I left the 50's cover versions alone. But I did tell him that his version of July You're a Woman sucked. It didn't bother him in the least bit.

About five years later hid did the "metal" album, which proved without a doubt that the guy has a sense of humor.

But, boy, do I digress, Steve Allen and Woody Woodbury also presented youth music quite regularly.

The only exposure I had to Zacherle was "Dinner with Drac," and his introduction for the Dead's show at the Fillmore East in February 1970. I knew of him and his various activities but never experienced them first hand.

Vickie Rock

Mark said...

Ms. V:

Yes, I did see the NYRRE with Zach -- twice in fact -- but I think they appeared on a short-lived WPIX-TV (Channel 11, an independent station in NY) Zach-hosted TV show where Zach hosted program segments and whatever the hell he wanted. And if I recall correctly, Michael Kamen and Company did perform an acoustic semi-classical number live in-studio.

I also remember being at some free afternoon Central Park concert in 1969 -- I went to see Exuma -- where I actually saw Zacherley walking through the crowd, and pretty much unrecognized. Except by me, of course. So I screwed up the courage to introduce myself, tell him how much I enjoyed his then-radio hosting on WNEW-FM, the then-premier NY free-form radio station, and he thanked me, completely out of character, and with a really rich and warm voice.

Zach's still alive (at 94). There was a NYTimes piece on the ol' boy (see late last year.

Anonymous said...


Ms. V, I like that. You may also call me Vanessa if you like. It's one of my favorite aliases. Vanessa Stone//Vickie Rock//Virginia Quarry//Vesta Roca; they're all good.

That NYRRE appearance sounds pretty cool. Obviously, Zacherle was quite popular in New York with his multi-media exposure.

As I mentioned earlier, Elliot Mintz, who I've never even remotely been a fan of, had a very low-budget UHF TV show called Head Shop. It was on channel fifty-something.

As much as I can't stand Mintz, his manner of speaking and dress, he did, on rare occasion, have some interesting in studio guests.

They usually looked like they wondered who talked them into the appearance. Bobby Whitlock was on once and did several numbers live. It was around the time of his first solo record.

He was brilliant. He did "Thorn Tree In the Garden," "Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham," and "The Scenery Has Slowly Changed," acoustically.

I remember him saying that "Thorn Tree In the Garden" was recorded as an afterthought for the Layla album. They had room for one more song. He said it was recorded live on the spot by the five of them.

Last time I saw Mintz was at one of the Bob Dylan/Merle Haggard/Amos Lee concerts at the Pantages in Hollywood circa 2005. He was in the seat directly in front of me, so I didn't need to worry about having my view blocked.

He was also very quiet and respectful during the performance, which was a plus since I was taping all three acts. He was with a busty blonde nearly twice his height. I was surprised. I always thought he was gay.

I went to, and taped, all five Dylan shows at the Pantages on that run. Since I was pressed for time I had to grab a hot dog at the adjoining Nathan's before each show. Man did I get sick of them. That shit isn’t very good at all.

On one night Bruce Willis sat in front of me. On another Chris Martin. They were both respectful.

Most stars are. Big exceptions: Penny Marshall, Drew Barrymore and, especially, Bill Maher. I traded seats with someone at the Wiltern to get away from that blabbermouth. It was a 1995 PJ Harvey show.

I looooove PJ. She gave a multi-orgasmic concert that night. Naturally, Maher left after the big hit. It was probably the only song he knew.

Bummer is, the guy goes to a lot of shows. Back then he always had a different woman draped over his arm. I guess that’s what happens when the guy who couldn’t get any action when he was young, gets wealth and power. Talk about full of himself. Yeccch.

It rained after one of the Dylan shows and I couldn't get into my car because someone had parked their SUV so close to mine I couldn't open the door. The passenger side was also blocked. It pissed me off.

It turned out it was Steven Spielberg with his pre-teen daughter. It was awkward. I didn't say anything. Neither did they. I've never been much of a fan anyway.

He was wearing some stupid baseball styled cap and dressed casual. I was glad to see them go. Somebody ought to teach that jackass how to "direct" his car into a parking space.

On one of these Dylan nights, Marianne Faithfull played across the street at the Henry Fonda Theater/Music Box. My best friend Sandy taped that show while I went to Dylan. The Faithfull show is now an official video. So, I never missed it after all.

For me, FM lost its luster around 1972. It was an adventure up till that point. We had the legendary KPPC. KMET and KNAC were also pretty cool in the early days. The worst of the bunch was KABC, which started with the "Love Radio" "Brother John" format. They later became KLOS and are still stinking up the airwaves 44 years later.

When Les Carter and crew were fired from KPPC, it was all over. KMET was the powerhouse and they tried, but they got worse and worse as the seventies wore on.

Exuma, wow. That’s a name that doesn’t come up often. Next thing you know you’ll be bringing up Assagai!

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

BTW, not only did Pat Boone completely ruin John Stewart's "July You're a Woman," he also destroyed Tim Buckley's "Song To the Siren."

Both are from his delightfully awful Tetragrammaton release "Deaparture" from 1969.

Listen, if you dare.

Vickie Rock