The DJ, the Rock Stars & Sullivan

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Effervescent and always charming, Ed Sullivan

Recently I revisited an interesting story about a radio deejay, a Pacific Northwest band, and that band’s appearance on the Ed Sullivan TV show. The characters were already familiar to me: I knew of the original KISN radio and Roger Hart, a KISN  DJ  who managed a big-name rock band. KISN was a blockbuster AM station licensed to Vancouver, WA — but it targeted the much larger neighboring city of Portland, OR. As a kid who lived the sixties, I was very familiar with Paul Revere & The Raiders, which was the big-name rock band Hart managed.

Paul Revere & The Raiders

Back in my teens, The Raiders’ music was a soundtrack to life.  Based in Portland, this P.N.W. band recorded some of the biggest hit records of the era. Despite changes in the line up, they thrived into the ’70’s. The group’s monster hit, Indian Reservation, was released in ’71. Of their many singles, my faves were Louie Louie, Just Like Me, Kicks, Hungry, Good Thing, Ups and Downs, and Him or Me. With their string of major radio hits, and frequent television appearances, including as regulars on Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is, The Raiders became way more than just a regional band.

In 2014, at the time of Paul Revere’s death, Roger Hart explained how he became The Raiders’ manager. It all started in early 1963, when he was on a break from KISN, jocking at KKEY and KGON. Hart would return to KISN in the fall of ’63. Like Pat O’Day in Seattle, Dick Stark in Bellingham, and dozens of other pioneering entrepreneurial radio guys in the northwest, Hart earned supplemental income by promoting teen dances in the Vancouver/Portland area. Here’s more of Roger’s story as told to the Columbian Newspaper:

Roger Hart & Paul Revere, early years

“I was doing a variety of those little sock hops and I was looking for talent. When I went to my bank, the teller — who knew I was a DJ — told me about a rock ‘n’ roll musician who had just been in the bank. The teller gave me a telephone number for the musician, who worked as a cook at the old Oregon state mental hospital in Wilsonville. I called Paul Revere later that day, then met him the next day at a coffee shop in Wilsonville, and I hired him to play at Vancouver’s Trapadero Club. Another band member, Mark Lindsay, was working at a gas station. The Trapadero gig wasn’t much of a moneymaker, but something else came out of it. Paul said to me, ‘We need a manager,’ which is where I came in. Everything is timing and circumstance. There’s a lesson in there: You never know what will happen, but be there when it happens.”

While researching another article for Puget Sound Media, I stumbled on a youtube video that caught my eye. It was The Raiders’ 1967 appearance on the legendary Ed Sullivan Show. Anyone old enough to remember The Ed Sullivan Show knows that Ed was highly successful, but an odd duck. He was a former NYC newspaper entertainment columnist. And, in those early days of TV, the networks were not as obsessed with glitz and sex appeal as they are today.  Sullivan, despite his lackluster on-camera presentation, had the wherewithal to attract viewers by booking major acts (Elvis, Sinatra, Beatles, Stones, etc.). Ed might have displayed poor posture, presented the personality of a stick, and had odd speech — he talked about what a “big shoe” we have for you tonight — but he maintained the audience ratings for many years.

The video below captured an awkward moment for Sullivan and, consequently, for The Raiders. There was a technical glitch in Ed’s introduction of The Raiders and he is not pleased. Let’s watch the short (edited down) video first. Then, beneath the video, is an explanation of what happened. This insight was provided years later by Raiders’ lead vocalist, Mark Lindsay.

Mark Lindsay

Mark Lindsay’s explanation: “Back then, if the band was doing a TV show, I’d go in the studio and make a mix without the lead voice, or maybe I’d do another vocal that sounded more live than our studio recording. Then I’d try to talk the TV show into using the mix without the vocal — so I could sing live.  But if they wouldn’t agree to that, then we’d still have a vocal track that sounded not quite so studio produced. For the Smothers Brothers, or Ed Sullivan, or those types of shows, we supplied the show with our Columbia masters remixed without the vocal.  If you saw the Raiders’ performance on Sullivan, Ed says something like  ‘And now for the kiddies, here’s Paul Revere and the Raiders.’ And then nothing happens because there was supposed to be a track playing. See, there was a change required — Freddy Weller had just joined the band and he really didn’t know all of our songs yet. And I had convinced CBS that if they wanted a good performance they’d have to play a tape, but I would still sing live.  But on Sullivan everybody always played live, so Ed was used to that. He wasn’t expecting a recorded track. When he cued us and nothing happened, because we were waiting for the track to start, he got kinda pissed off and said, ‘Come on, come on!’ Finally, somebody in the booth rolled the tape and we were able to begin our set.”

Author’s thoughts: Ed obviously lost his composure, he was probably frustrated. Sullivan didn’t like rock music anyway (flash in the pan “kid’s stuff”) and he booked the hot music groups to attract teen viewers. On the other hand, few of us understand how difficult it must be to run a live network variety show. Keeping it on schedule, so the show ends at exactly the right time, would be a burden.  I am sure there were times when acts ran long and Sullivan’s crew ordered remaining acts to cut their rehearsed and agreed upon presentations. You know the drill: “Hey, Mac….we are running long. You need to cut 2 minutes out of your 6 minute bit.”  I have known performers, magicians and ventriloquists, who appeared on Sullivan. And, with the exception of big stars who drew in the huge audiences, the lesser known or filler acts were barely paid. Being on Sullivan provided such a significant career boost, and allowed so many bragging rights, that even going on the show for free was a good move. That same policy holds true today. Many of the performers on late night TV and interview shows are there for the fame and definitely not for the fortune.

Story Credit: Columbian Newspaper (Vancouver, WA); Stereo Embers Magazine, PDXradio.com; Historic Films

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Steven Smith

Author: Steven Smith

Presently editor and historical writer with Puget Sound Media in Seattle. Former radio broadcaster and radio station owner, 1970-1999. Journalism and speech communications degrees. I enjoy researching articles and online reporting that allows me to meld together words, audio and video. P.S. I appreciate and encourage reader comments and opinions.

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