MTV debuted at 12:01 am on Aug 1, 1981. To celebrate the channel’s 38th birthday, every Flashback Friday music video in August will be a song that appeared on the first day of MTV. Today’s video is More Than I Can Say by Leo Sayer.
The song spent five weeks at #2 on the singles chart in December of 1980 and January of 1981. It also went to #2 on the British singles charts. The song hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
The song was written by Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison. Both were members of The Crickets. Allison played drums in the band before and after Buddy Holly’s death. Curtis performed with Holly before the Crickets formed and then joined the band as lead singer after Holly died in 1959.
Stream or purchase The Very Best of Leo Sayer via Amazon by clicking on the link below.
The Western had been a major genre for film and television from the earliest days of both their industries up until the first half of the seventies. In fact, by that time, there had already been over one hundred Western TV shows on the airwaves. In 1959 alone, there were 30 Westerns that you could watch during the week. By the late seventies, successful Westerns were few and far between. Hollywood had worn out the genre.
Older Gen Xers might remember when Gunsmoke was still on the air. That classic show ran on CBS from 1955 to 1975. Another show that might have caught the eye of eary Xers was Kung Fu, the legendary Western with a martial arts twist that aired on ABC from 1972 to 1975. While there were still some big Western films made in the first half of the seventies, it could be argued that only The Outlaw Josey Wales and The Shootist, which was John Wayne’s final film, were the only significant classic westerns released in the second half of the seventies.
The eighties kicked off the genre with some major box office bombs such as Heaven’s Gate and The Legend of the Lone Ranger. There were some hits scattered across the decade such as Silverado, Young Guns, The Man from Snowy River and of course the biggest Western of the decade, Pale Rider. The genre really shined on the small screen during the decade in the form of Made for Television Movies and Mini-Series. Some of note are the Kenny Rogers Gambler films on CBS, The five Desperado films on NBC and several CBS films featuring Country music legends such as Wilie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings. The biggest hit on TV was the massively successful Mini-Series, Lonesome Dove in 1989.
The success of Lonesome Dove kicked off a bit of a Western resurgence in the first half of the nineties. The decade started off in 1990 with a huge hit in Dances with Wolves. The film earned Kevin Costner an Oscar for best director and it also won the award for best picture. Young Guns 2 was also big at the box office that year. Unforgiven starring Clint Eastwood was a huge hit in 1992 and won the Oscar for best picture. Tombstone became a classic in 1993 and possibly only second to My Darling Clementine from 1946 as the definitive film version of the famous gun battle at the O.K. Corral. Kevin Costner returned to the genre in 1994 with Wyatt Earp, but this version of the O.K. Corral story was not as successful as Tombstone.
TV Westerns continued with a series of Gunsmoke movies and Kenny Rogers returned to play the Gambler two more times. Lonesome Dove had a sequel called Return to Lonesome Dove air in 1993 and that was followed by two syndicated series: Lonesome Dove: The Series and Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years.
One of the most popular game shows in TV history debuted on this day 43 years ago. Family Feud premiered on ABC on July 12, 1976. The show was hosted by Richard Dawson and created by Mark Goodson.
Dawson was best known for his role on the World War 2 POW sitcom, Hogan’s Heroes. He was also a popular panelist on Match Game, which was another very successful game show of the seventies. Goodson, along with his partner Bill Todman, produced some of the biggest game shows on TV. Besides Family Feud and Match Game, they also produced Password, ThePrice is Right, Card Sharks, and Tattletales.
Although it got off to a slow climb as far as ratings go, it eventually became so popular that the following year saw a syndicated nighttime version premier on stations all across the country. The show surpassed MatchGame as the most viewed game show on TV and kept that title until Wheel of Fortune took the crown in 1984. The daytime and nighttime shows were canceled in 1985.
CBS revived the show in 1988 and another syndicated version premiered that year as well. Both shows were hosted by Ray Combs. The CBS show stayed on the air until 1993. By this time, Goodson and Todman had passed away and Mark’s son, Johnathan was running the company that owned the show. Ratings were down on the syndicated show and Richard Dawson was hired to once again host the show. His return briefly brought the ratings back up, but that didn’t last long and the show was canceled in 1995.
In 1999 a new syndicated version hit the airwaves and was hosted by comedian Louie Anderson. After Anderson left the show, Richard Karn of Home Improvement fame took over for four years. John O’Hurley who played Peterman on Seinfeld also did a four-year stint as host. In 2010, Steve Harvey took over as host and the ratings shot up, In 2015, the show leaped ahead of Wheel of Fortune as the most watched syndicated game show on TV. Family Feud celebrates it’s 43rd anniversary this week as the #1 syndicated show in America.
Here’s the first Family Feud show from July 12, 1976.
Farrah Fawcett passed away on this day 10 years ago at the age of 62. She was the first pop culture phenomenon of the Gen X era.
As we have stated before, we consider the Gen X era to be from the mid-seventies to the mid-nineties. For first wave Gen Xers, this covers middle childhood in the mid and late seventies, late childhood and teen years/ college in the eighties and college and young adult life in the early and mid-nineties.
So with that being said, it really is the mid-seventies when older Gen X kids are starting to be aware of the culture around them. Charlie’s Angels debuted on ABC in the fall of 1976. The show was an instant hit and the most talked about new show of the year. Besides Fawcett, the show also starred Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith as a trio of beautiful private eyes who work for a mysterious boss named Charlie whose face you never see on screen. All three actresses become household names, but with the success of the show and an iconic poster in millions of young men’s bedrooms, Fawcett is the standout star of the show. It also doesn’t hurt that she is married to Lee Majors who stars as The Six Million Dollar Man, also on ABC.
Many folks would think that Star Wars would be the first pop culture phenomenon of the Gen X era, but that movie did not come out until May of 1977. That is the reason why we consider Farrah as our generation’s first pop culture phenomenon.
The #1 show on TV this week ( June 12-18, 1978 ) in 1978 was One Day at a Time. The show was one of the many programs that were produced by Norman Lear in the seventies. Like most of the others, One Day at a Time aired on CBS.
The show was about a recently divorced mom who moved with her two daughters from Logansport, Indiana to an apartment in Indianapolis. The series was created by Whitney Blake and Allan Mannings, a married writing team. The show was based on Blake’s life as a divorced mom with kids. Blake was also an actress who played the mom on the sixties sitcom, Hazel. One Day at a Time was different from most other sitcoms focused on a family in that the single parent was not widowed but divorced.
The show starred Bonnie Franklin as the mom, Ann Romano with Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli as her two teenage daughters. The show also starred Pat Harrington Jr. as Schneider, the apartment building’s superintendent. Various other characters came and went throughout the show’s nine-year run. Phillips was fired in 1980 due to drug issues and was rehired a few years later. She collapsed on the set in 1983 and afterward refused to take a drug test and was fired.
First wave Gen Xers might have been a bit young to watch the show when it premiered in 1975, but the show stayed on the air until they were in high school or just starting college in 1984. Many Gen X members did grow up with the show via the reruns that CBS aired on weekday afternoons from 1979-1982. The show is remembered for being one of the first to feature a divorced parent as the main character, for launching the stardom of Phillips and Bertinelli and for the various hot button social issues of the time that were discussed on the show.
Two years ago today, Adam West passed away at the age of 88. For Gen X, we are too young to remember or were not even born yet when the BATMAN series starring West aired on ABC from 1966 to 1968.
Our generation grew up watching Batman reruns after school on one of our local channels. For many of us, Adam West was our first TV hero. We also watched The New Adventures of Batman on Saturday mornings on CBS in the mid-seventies. This short-lived cartoon featured the voices of West and Burt Ward. They also teamed up for two live-action specials on NBC called Legends of the Superheroes in 1979.
When the feature film Batman came out in 1989, we may have liked Michael Keaton’s performance of the Caped Crusader, but West was still our Batman. Some of us met him and got an autograph at some car show, or Sci-Fi convention in the seventies and eighties.
When the Batman show aired in the nineties on FX and The Family Channel, young Gen X parents introduced the show to their kids. In this current decade, some of us who had kids later in life, and or who have grandchildren introduced the show to our little ones via ME-TV and the IFC Channel or on DVD.
He became a true Pop Culture Icon as we became adults in the nineties. He worked steadily in the last three decades in films and TV, frequently doing voice-overs, most notably as the Mayor on Family Guy.
Since that 1989 film came out there have been four other actors besides Keaton who have put the cowl and cape on. There were also two other actors who played Batman in serials back in the forties. The West version of Batman, the way he looked, his mannerisms, his voice, is still the Iconic image of the Caped Crusader.
William West Anderson (September 19, 1928 – June 9, 2017), known to the world as Adam West left this world two years ago today. He is stilled missed and will never be forgotten.
Every Friday, we will spotlight a forgotten, or obscure music video from the Gen X era.
Today’s Music video is Der Kommissar from After the Fire. The song went to #5 on the singles chart in 1983. After the Fire was an English progressive rock band who went New Wave. This was their only hit in America. Austrian singer Falco, had an international hit with Der Kommissar in 1982.
Click the link to download Der Kommissar via Amazon.
Six years after the debut of the first Rocky movie, Rocky III was released during Memorial Day weekend in 1982. The film was hugely successful earning nearly 270 million at the box office. It was the fourth highest grossing movie of 1982.
Even more impressive than the financial success was the several ways that the film contributed to the pop culture of the eighties and to the Gen X era.
Before Rocky III, Mr. T was a bodyguard and bouncer in Chicago. He appeared on NBC’s Games People Play as a contestant for the “America’s Toughest Bouncer” competition. He won that event and this is also where he was first noticed by Sylvester Stallone. This lead to him being cast as “Clubber Lang”, Stallone’s opponent in the film. Mr. T.’s famous catchphrase “I pity the fool” also came from Rocky III. The following year, he was part of the cast of The A Team on NBC and he went on to become a true 80s icon.
Before Hulk Hogan became the biggest fan favorite during the pro wrestling boom of the mid-eighties, he was a bad guy in the World Wrestling Federation. The WWF then was only a northeastern regional territory and not yet the national brand that it was soon to become. This is also where Stallone first saw him perform and this lead him to be cast as Thuderlips, the grappler Rocky fought in a charity wrestler vs boxer match. After the movie was completed, Hogan left the WWF and started wrestling for The American Wrestling Association, which covered the upper midwest and parts of the west coast. Thanks in part to the success of the film, this is where he became a good guy, and Hulkamania started to run wild! In December of 1983, he went back to the WWF, and a month later beats the Iron Shiek to become WWF champion. Also in 84, the WWF went nationwide and Pro Wrestling becomes a true 80s cultural phenomenon with Hogan as its biggest star.
Eye of the Tiger
Stallone had originally wanted to use Another One Bites the Dust by Queen as the theme song for the movie. When Queen said no, Stallone requested the band Survivor create a theme song. That song, Eye of the Tiger became one of the most iconic songs ever made for a movie, and one of the signature songs of the eighties and the Gen X era. It hit number 1 on the singles charts and stayed there for six weeks. When you combine the sales for the original vinyl and the later digital downloads, nine million copies have been sold. Eye of the Tiger was also the title of an action movie from 1986 starring Gary Busey. The song was used in that film as well.
The comedy world lost one of its funniest people ever recently when Tim Conway passed away at the age of 85. Conway had the world laughing for over fifty years with a career that started out in local TV in Cleveland. He then went national when he moved to New York City and landed a job as a regular on The Steve Allen Show on ABC.
He had even bigger success as one of the stars of the 1960’s World War Two sitcom, McHale’s Navy. After that show left the airways, he had his own short-lived sitcom and variety show. What the world will always know him best for is The Carol Burnett Show, which aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978.
From the first season on, Conway was a popular and frequent guest. When Lyle Waggoner left the show in 1975, he became a full-time cast member and stayed on with the show till the end. Along with great characters like The Oldest Man and Mr. Tudball, his time on the show is noted for his ability to crack up his castmates during a sketch.
There are several reasons why Tim Conway matters to Generation X. The Carol Burnett Show was something that families watched together. When Conway passed away on May 14, 2019, there were many comments on social media from first wave Gen Xers about how they grew up watching the show with their families. The show aired on Saturday in a time when that was still a big night for TV viewing. Along with Burnett, for much of the seventies, the powerhouse CBS Saturday night lineup included The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family and The Bob Newhart Show. Can you think of a show that presently airs on Saturday nights on a broadcast network?
He was not just a TV celebrity, he was also a movie star. Conway teamed with another comedy great, Don Knotts and made four successful family-friendly movies starting in 1975 with The Apple Dumpling Gang. A sequel, The AppleDumpling Gang Rides Again, came out in 79 as did The Prize Fighter. Their final movie as a starring duo, Private Eyes, was released in 1980. Both Conway and Knotts appeared in Disney’s Gus in 1976, however, they did not have any scenes together. They made a cameo as Highway Patrol Officers in Cannonball Run 2 in 1984. This was the last time they appeared together on screen.
Conway appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1986 in a skit where he portrayed a very short Scandinavian horse jockey named Dorf. This lead to eight direct to video “how to” films featuring the Dorf character. He also played Peggy Bundy’s father in four episodes of Married with Children.
Perhaps his most famous skit on The Carol Burnett Show was The Dentist with Harvey Korman. Neither one of them could make it through the entire skit without laughing. Take a look at the clip below.
The late night music program, The Midnight Special aired its last show on NBC on May 1st, 1981. The show first appeared as a special in 1972 and then became a regular Friday night program in 1973. The original time slot was 1:00 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. and followed The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. When Carson’s show went from 90 minutes to one hour The Midnight Special was moved up to 12:30 a.m.–2:00 a.m.
The success of the show proved that Late Night TV could be successful. NBC expanded the time slot to the rest of the week when it premiered TheTomorrow Show later in 1973.
The Midnight Special featured acts from different musical genres, but like another last night music show, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, the program was known to showcase acts that you normally would not see on TV. Hard Rock, New Wave, and Album Rock Radio artists like Black Oak Arkansas, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Journey, The New York Dolls, Reo Speedwagon, Heart, Blondie, The Cars and Thin Lizzy appeared on the show.
The show left the airwaves a few months before the premiere of MTV. For many Gen X kids who lived in places where you only had R&B, Top 40, and Country stations, or had no concert venues, The late night music shows of the seventies and early eighties were the only way to see or hear a performance from the Rock bands that you only read about in magazines.
Click the image to read about a DVD box set of The Midnight Special via Amazon.
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