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 The Tomorrow 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.