long time ago in a galaxy far away, one without cable, Fuse,
iTunes or iPods, the greatest rock and roll band of all
.The Rolling Stones made their American television
debut. It did not happen on any of the networks, not on
the Ed Sullivan Show, Shindig, or Hullaballoo, but on local
Channel 11 in New York City. The Rolling Stones debuted
on The Clay Cole Show. That fact alone should spark your
interest in Clay's cool new book
Explosion of Rock 'N' Roll 1953 - 1968."
few years before we got our first look at Mick & Keith,
my generation were the pre-Beatles, The Eve Of Destruction,
LSD, San Francisco, wear some flowers in your hair, Fillmore
East, one toke over the line baby boomers. The 60's had
just begun, our hormones were raging, we wore loafers on
our feet and Clearasil on our face, and didn't have a clue
about what the rest of the decade would bring.
you were a kid back then your transistor radio was your
constant companion. We got our daily dose of rock and roll
from Dandy Dan Daniel and his WMCA Good Guy survey. In the
evenings the sounds came from Scotland's Yard hosted by
gravelly-voiced Scott Muni on WABC, or maybe we'd do some
submarine race watching while listening to Murray the K
on 1010 WINS. On a school night in the early 60's we'd have
our impressionable little minds blown with tunes like "Sherry"
from The Four Seasons, The Isley Brothers' "Twist &
Shout," "Runaway" by Del Shannon or Little
Eva singing about "The Locomotion"
stuff, that second wave of early 60's rock and roll
amazing is more like it.
With The Rolling Stones -1964
early on Saturday evenings we turned off our radios
at least for an hour and turned on The Clay Cole
Show on TV. Everybody watched and before the show ended
its run, everybody was on: The Beatles, Richard Pryor, Paul
Anka, Donovan, Dion, The Turtles, Stevie Wonder, Gary Lewis
and the Playboys, The Who, The 5th Dimension, The Young
Rascals, Peter Paul & Mary, Tony Bennett, George Carlin,
The Skyliners, Dionne Warwick, Neil Diamond, Herman's Hermits,
Little Anthony and The Imperials, and The Firesign Theater
and well, like I said . . . Everybody.
several decades after the last broadcast, Clay has written
an essential and entertaining book that chronicles this
remarkable chapter in rock and roll, and also tells his
personal story with humor and candor. "Sh-Boom - The
Explosion of Rock 'N' Roll 1953 - 1968" is a must read
for anyone who ever danced to the music, bought a 45, or
owned a transistor radio. This is it the book that
tells the entire story of the inner workings of the music
industry that delivered the soundtrack of our youth and
the TV show that brought the music to the Big Apple, Brooklyn,
Long Island, Jersey and da Bronx.
Dick Clark hosted American Bandstand, the daily dance party that was broadcast coast to coast, but he had nothing on Clay Cole. Of course, Clay’s show featured the dancing and the guests, but it had two other magical ingredients that neither Clark nor any other show in the world had… New York City and Clay Cole. This was our New York rock and roll show, it had attitude, it had a street-wise hipness and it had style. We weren’t really the American Graffiti crowd. Happy Days and the Fonz? No that wasn’t New Yawk. This wasn’t Philly with line dances either, and we sure weren’t anything like our peers on the West Coast. Clay writes, "East Coast teens could care less about the Beach Boys’ sun-bleached ditties. Show me a kid in the Bronx who aspired to be a surfer and drive a little deuce coupe. A ‘woody’ in the Bronx held a whole different meaning."
The King of the New York streets and the greatest rock and
roller from the Bronx comments, "Clay Cole. Saturday
night. Rock 'n roll, New York City. Glued to the tube. I
should know I was there." He was there
he was on the cover of Sgt. Pepper
just like he was
with Buddy Holly the night before the music died
is the real deal and he knows Clay was the real deal too.
some of you may be thinking you know your stuff too, but
there's always more to learn and Mr. Cole has loaded gems
of information for you between the covers of this tome.
For example, do you know the reason Dion did not take the
plane ride that killed Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and
Richie Valens? It's in the book. Did you know that 14-year-old
Paul McCartney composed "When I'm 64," a tune
that appeared years later on Pepper, as a birthday present
for his dad? Did you know that Richie Havens, the man most
associated with Woodstock three days of love, peace,
and music was once a member of a Bed Sty street gang?
The book has hundreds of fascinating facts about our artists
and their records and Professor Cole dedicates entire chapters
to Motown, Girl Groups and more. The chapter on the British
Invasion is amazing and features a story about how Frankie
Valli of the Four Seasons wanted to record some of the early
Beatles music before the Fabs even arrived in America. It
also contains the entire story behind The Beatles' first
Carnegie Hall concert and also the devastating impact the
British groups had on American artists. Careers were abruptly
ended almost overnight.
Dion and Clay - 1964
learn that while thousands of American birds were screaming
for the Dave Clark 5, The Animals, The Searchers, The Zombies,
and all the others, there was a darker side to the invasion.
"Rifle-toting vigilantes fired on tour buses
like the fear and loathing many black entertainers encountered
while touring throughout the South, the new British groups
experienced America's newest twisted bias
A bunch of long-haired freaks, strolling into an all night
Midwestern diner, became subjects of ridicule and revulsion."
Clay covers it all the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Good: "Clay Cole's Christmas Show
at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater broke all attendance records
the all-time box office record
that stands to this
day. The show starred Little Anthony and The Imperials,
Dante and The Evergreens, Bo Diddly, Bobby Vee, Chubby Checker,
The Skyliners, The Shirelles, The Coasters, The Drifters,
Neil Sedaka, Dion and more.
Bad: The Payola Scandal
. "Payola, the old-timers
agreed, that's what the trouble was. 'Slip a disc jockey
a few bucks and you had a hit record.' Eliminating payola,
they thought, would effectively finish off this decadent
teenage music once and for all."
Ugly: The story of Clay's disturbing meeting with The WPIX
General Manager who "was telling me that I had welcomed
too many black artists on my show. (It) seared my gut, vibrated
my brain. I was seething." Clay responded with a unique
presentation, "Our 'Salute to Motown' went on the air
with Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Mary
Wells, Martha & The Vandellas, The Marvelettes, Gladys
Knight & The Pips, Tammi Terrell & Marvin Gaye,
and comic Willie Tyler & Lester, the greatest hour of
all black artists assembled up to that time."
addition "Sh-Boom!" tells the story of his amazing
journey from Ohio to Broadway in a rare and candid style.
When the TV show ended and Clay moved out of the spotlight
and into the reality of show biz, things were more complex.
The book tells the story of a real human being who had to
deal with the sometimes harsh and cold problems of big-time
show biz, like the night the mob busted up his nightclub
in an attempt to take over a piece of the action.
book is jam packed with the entertainers' personal memories
and not for nuthin', the man can write. "It was the
breathtaking 'Autumn in New York' evening when Daylight
Savings Time ends, and the late afternoon darkness stuns
in the most agreeable way. I felt like a snap of wind, the
sound of rustling leaves brushing along the gutters and
cabbies honking a fanfare, as if sensing the euphoria in
the air. Manhattan is always a fast-moving town, but in
the Autumn the pace quickens. Laughing couples, bundled
together to hug off the chill, were bustling about, anticipating
a night on the town, perhaps dinner and a show. Damn, it
was great to be alive."
the millions of New York teenagers growing up in the 60's
who watched his shows on TV or caught him live at all those
amazing gigs at Palisades Park or the Apollo Theater or
wherever, he made us glad we were alive too. The Clay Cole
Show was a party, a celebration of all that was right with
rock and roll. It was cool and so is "Sh-Boom."
for the memories Mr. Cole.
The Explosion of Rock 'N' Roll 1953 - 1968." is available
from Morgan James Publishing October 1, 2009. Pre-order
out Clay Cole's official web site www.claycoleshow.com
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