Through Robert, Gregg and Ronnie, I’ve met everyone from The Rolling Stones to Count Basie. Although, being in radio for so long, I met a lot of music greats there too and have interviewed a few hundred of them like Dizzy Gillespie, Chaka Khan, Dionne Warwick, Marvin Gaye, Willie Nelson, Jackson Brown, Isaac Hayes (who for years called me Bobby Lee…we miss you) Stevie Wonder, Frankie Vallie, James Brown, Patty LaBelle, Julio Iglesias, Frank Zappa, Sly Stone, Dick Clark, George Benson, Smokey Robinson and so many more, I can’t remember them all, but I do remember Luther Vandross. He and I were dear friends and I miss him. It was also fun to interview comedians and actors too like Tom Cruise, Red Foxx, Phyllis Diller, Fay Dunaway, Wayland Flowers and Madam, Chris Atkins, John Davidson and Harrison Ford.
Below top, me with Michael Jackson in Atlanta, Under that, Phyllis Diller and I on my 33rd birthday in Dallas. Third down, me a very young, 19 year old Tom Cruise on a long fun night at Limelight. Forth down, Julio Iglesias in my recording studio in Miami.
One of the things I used to enjoy the most was introducing people at their concerts, which is one of the perks of being a top rated radio personality. I knew Ike and Tina long before they spit, but was quite honored to introduce Tina Turner in her very first solo concert on the Private Dancer tour in Dallas Texas. Some of the other headliners I’ve had the pleasure of introducing on stage were Michael Jackson, ZZ Top, Junior Walker and The Allstars, BB King, Led Zeppelin, Eddie Floyd, James Taylor, Roberta Flack, The Beach Boys, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, Linda Hopkins, Ertha Kitt, Billy Joel, Etta James, J. Giles Band, Sly and The Family Stone, Billy Preston, Prince, Rick James, Carol King, The Temptations, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Four Seasons, The Four Tops and a lot more, but one that I must include, was introducing the Sex Pistols at their first ever US appearance. We spent a long and interesting night together. Actually, most of those nights were long and interesting.
One night, I was invited by Earth Wind and Fire’s manager, Steven Fargnoli to see a new act he had. It was the first time they had played in public and there was a table for me that I shared with Tim Curry from Rocky Horror. The act was Prince. Tim and I were blown away. I could tell you a lot more great stories, and I may eventually write a book about all the sex, drugs and rock and roll…the working title I have in mind is, “If Balls Could Talk”. Like that?
Below, top, it’s me with Sid Vicious at their US debut in January of 78. Next picture down, me and the Godfather of Soul, James Brown who I first met at age 18. He was one of the nicest guys you ever wanted to meet…really a very kindhearted man. Next, Jackson Brown and me around 1977.
Below, one of the greatest voices ever, The Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson and me. Carl sings the lead on ‘God Only Knows’, and got it right on the first take…a classic song, and we miss Carl and Dennis Wilson. Below that, The great Smokey Robinson, then (L) James Ingram and (R) Peabo Bryson., and then me with my buddy Luther Vandros and The O’Jays.
Below, disco down with Randy from the Village People, Alicia Bridges who sang ‘I Love The Nightlife’ (and we did), me and funnyman Rip Taylor. Robert Nix and I used to call Alicia Bridges ‘Loose-ya Britches’. Below that, the night I introduced Boz Skaggs to The Neville Brothers, then The Pointer Sisters in San Francisco, me and Willie Nelson, and my friend Issac Hayes, who called me Bobby Lee. Then, rollin’ over with Chuck Berry and almost ready to dance in the street with Martha Reeves.
Finally, a treasured memento from Marvin Gaye. I met Marvin with Otis Redding in early 1967, at which time Otis game me and Marvin his card. Later that year, Otis was gone, but I saw Marvin many times after that and we became friends. My favorite song of all time is his “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, with Tammy Terrell. The first time I ever heard “What’s Going On”, Otis Redding’s brother Rogers and his wife, Zelma were in my car in Macon…we were all so excited, we pulled off the road to listen.
I introduced Marvin at Reunion Arena in Dallas in April of ’83, and told him the story about Rogers and Zelma. He loved it and before I could say another word, he reached into his bag and took out Otis’s card, that he had carried with him since we all met. He flipped it over and wrote this note to me on the back of it. That gesture was so stunning to me, I was was without words…but…shortly, so was he!
He did not know I had brought the card Otis gave me that night. I was going to show it to him as a reminder of where we met, but as usual, Marvin had outdone himself in his graciousness. When I pulled out my Otis card, he laughed and hugged me. I gave it to him to replace the one he had given me. We both almost cried.
Have I ‘dropped’ a lot of names here? Well, yes and no. This was my life though. These are the things I did and the people I did them with. Most of us in radio and television could reel off a lot of impressive names we’ve worked with over the years, but what I hope those names above do is remind you of the great music they made, and the times it reminds you of.
When I think of the TK41 period for instance, I think of Andy Williams and “Moon River”. Perry Como and “Catch A Falling Star” and “Impossible”. I think of the great Broadway songs from Learner and Lowe, Rogers and Hammerstein, Gershwin, Berlin and Johnny Mercer and plays like The King and I, Oklahoma, The Music Man and movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Butterfield Eight and The Longest Day.
I think that’s one of the reasons I love these cameras so much. It’s not just the cameras…it’s the periods. I think the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s were some of the best times we have ever seen in this country. Innovation was everywhere, everything and everyone was alive and thriving, and deep down, I think most people were pretty happy. People were different then.
The cameras take me back there. I had a great childhood and the cameras remind me of it, and here is the big because…because I loved television and the shows it brought me, as much as I loved the radio and the music it brought me!
I loved watching Red Skelton and Jackie Gleason with my mother and dad, and later, my little brother. I loved Howdy Doody and cried when Clarabelle finally spoke on the last show and said “Goodbye kids”. I loved the Popeye Club, The Three Stooges, Pete Smith Presents, Yogi Bear, Quickdraw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound, Sky King, Roy Rogers, Leave It To Beaver, Ozzy and Harriet, Art Linkletter’s House Party, Queen For A Day, I’ve Got A Secret and just so much more.
I loved Bill Cullen, Gary Moore, Bud Collyer, Walter Cronkite, Chet and David, Bullwinkle. Mitch Miller was a little to square for me, but I loved The Dean Martin Show, Bob Hope, Bonanza on Saturday night and Walt Disney on Sunday nights, Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Maverick (I can still sing the theme song), Get Smart, Man From Uncle, Car 54, Arthur Godfrey and of course, Ed Sullivan.
When I think of the Norelco cameras, I think of Carol Burnett, Smothers Brothers, Glenn Campbell and Television City. Good memories.
As I said on the Welcome page, it was only recently that I realized I loved the pictures of the cameras working on these shows almost as much as I love the cameras. The cameras are the special vortex…the special time and place machines that bring the world to me and all of us. Without them, there is no TV. There are tens of millions of television receiver sets, but never more than a few hundred cameras across the nation to originate the images and the stars could not be stars without them.
In the black and white days, there were never more than 50 cameras in New York or Los Angeles, and in the early color days, there were even fewer…maybe three dozen on each coast.
In closing, all I can say is that I’ve tried very hard to put together the very best pictures I can find. I’ve had a lot of help from a lot of people and thank you all for sharing and visiting Eyes Of A Generation…to me, this is the world’s virtual museum of Television, and it’s cameras, from the Golden age and beyond.
My grateful thanks to you for visiting. God Bless you.