Monday, October 08, 2007

And Some People Thought Woodstock Was a Big Deal

Here's one more reason YouTube is the most important cultural development in the history of Western Civilization -- it's currently the only place you can see performances from The Greatest Live Rock and Roll Extravaganza Ever Filmed.

Of course, that would be The T.A.M.I. Show, released by American International to an unsuspecting world in the summer of 1965 as part of a double bill with one of their Frankie and Annette beach party epics.

If you're not familiar with it, that's not really surprising; there hasn't been an above ground video version since a mangled VHS release in the mid 80s. In any case, it's an astounding document -- a concert featuring pretty much everybody who was anybody in rock, pop and r&b back then with the exception of the Beatles.

This seismic event was shot at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 28 and 29, 1964, and let's simply say that the phrase "be there or be square" has never been more apt.

The performers:

* The Barbarians
* The Beach Boys
* Chuck Berry
* James Brown & The Famous Flames
* Marvin Gaye
* Gerry and the Pacemakers
* Lesley Gore
* Jan and Dean
* Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas
* Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
* The Rolling Stones
* The Supremes

Here's a clip (from about half way into the show) of the Beach Boys, in their striped shirts, doing "Surfer Girl." The crowd is going batshit by this point. (That's Jan and Dean doing the intro, BTW. They also did a lot of endearing low comedy throughout and sang the great theme song, "They're Coming From All Over the World").

And now marvel at James Brown and the Famous Flames doing "Please, Please, Please," complete with cape routine. When I first saw this, at the Oritani Theater in Hackensack, New Jersey, I was of course a 16 year old suburban white kid who had barely heard of James Brown or ever seen a live performance by a person of color. Speechless does not begin to describe my condition at its conclusion. Thunderstruck is more like it.

Mick Jagger and the Stones, who were scheduled to close the show, watched Brown from the wings and were scared shitless at the prospect of following him.

Here's how they responded. Pretty fly for a white guy, Mick.

And speaking of white, don't miss the then not a lesbian Lesley Gore doing the proto-feminist anthem "You Don't Own Me" over here. Sorry there's no embed, but the link works just fine.

There's much, much more -- the young Marvin Gaye, for example, simply oozes talent and sex appeal in his set, and you haven't lived until you've seen Smokey Robinson's dance moves on "Mickey's Monkey".

But the bottom line is -- this film needs to be on DVD, uncut and remastered. And pronto.

Update: Constant commenter Gummo informs us that The T.A.M.I. Show is indeed available at

I don't think I'd be out of line if at this point I mentioned I have a birthday coming up.

[h/t Brooklyn Girl]


Anonymous said...


At the Oritani?

What kills me is that I didn't even know about this.

And the next drink is on me.

Anonymous said...

That last comment was me. Apparently I didn't get enough sleep last night.

steve simels said...

Apparently I didn't get enough sleep last night.

I won't even ask...

Anonymous said...

steve --

An uncut version of the T.A.M.I. show is available here:

This guy is a bit expensive, but I've ordered from him before and his product is generally top quality.

Avedon said...

Jan & Dean's "The Theme to the T.A.M.I. Show" was actually in heavy rotation on WWDC at the time, so I knew about the show.

As both a J&D fan and a P.F. Sloan fan, I did buy the single - and wished I could have been there.