Friday, October 29, 2010

Distant Cuzzins??

Since he llleft us two years ago, a lllot of peopllle have asked, Who'llll ever replllace Uncllle LLLL ... and why did he spellll his name with two "LL"LL's?

Wellll, there's a reason for the second part of the question: It's what his mama calllled him (besides, I've had a number of friends over the years who were named LLLloyd and even a coupllle who were named LLllewellllen (either as first or as llllast name). And nobody ever complllained ...

Now, because ... wait: lllemme see if we can cut this down to two "LLL"s and ... waitaminnit ... "LL"s (whew!) so we can get on with the show:
because Uncle Lloyd actually opened the doors for scores of entertainers and emcees to come, there are those who are much like him in their delivery. But, to quote a very non-Thaxtonish politician of yore (yore what?? Sorry ... old joke. Hadta throw it in here; timing's everything) "Let me make one thing PERFECTLY clear:


But there are those who, whether because they learned a few things from him or are like him in their delivery, remind us a bit of Unc:

Jimmy Fallon -- the SNL alumnus who now hosts his own NBC late-night talkfest after The Tonight Show, has some of the creativity and zany humour that characterized our Fearless Leader.
And, of course (on a rivel channel), the wildly popular Craig Ferguson has literally mastered the art of ad-lib, outlandish fun! His shtick includes puppets (rather than finger people), sidebar comments and (can you believe this?) even some lip-synching!
But he's also got something that Lloyd perfected: The rare-and-uncanny ability to really relate to the person he's interviewing -- thus making the interview very informative while, at the same time, relaxing and fun to watch!!

Still, there was only ONE Lloyd Thaxton, and NOBODY will be able to replace him. As the old saying goes, he can be "often imitated but NEVER, EVER duplicated!" Nonetheless, it's good that TV has these two madcaps -- and, since Lloyd will forever be our favourite Uncle, I guess we can christen these two distant cuzzins ...


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Ghouls and Goblins and Witches (Oh My!)


(Okay ... that's as scary as I get, unless you look at my face ...)
Yep, Halloween (aka "All Hallow's Eve", aka "two days before Election Day") comes up in just a couple of days. I've got my costume all picked out (goin' as the "Invisible Naked Man". Meaning: I'm staying home ...).

Actually, it brings to mind the Halloween of 1965. By then, I was a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool fan of Uncle Lloyd's show ... and was miffed that, amongst the trick-or-treaters in nearby Charlotte, N.C., there was a young brother-sister act: one dressed as a teenaged girl with bouffant hair (think the movie, Grease) and the other as a suit-and-tie emcee complete with microphone! When I heard about 'em, I thought, "How dare they mimic Uncle Lloyd and one of his fans??"

But I did wonder how that little boy felt bein' dressed up like Lesley Gore ...

Even today, some folks still don't get the concept behind the big Night. It was originally All Hallow's Eve, meant to introduce the big All Saint's Day that followed. Everybody dressed in spooky garb, not to invite the bringers-of-bad-vibes but to scare them away so the next day could go off without a hitch!
Now, whilst most cities have already had a "safe trick-or-treat" night for kids (usually held in public places, with some of 'em actually calling it begging night, it ... oh, wait: that's the last-minute campaigning goin' on ...), there may still be a few of them (kids, not politicians. But ya never know ...) that'll be out on the roads Sunday night, looking for goodies ...
So, be careful on the roads (especially where cars are parked on the roadside), and, should the little monsters come to your door (again, "kids", not ...) be nice to 'em, okay?
Remember (and, for some reason, I feel like Zacherle in-character when I say this): "They'll be one of US ... some-day" HAAAAAHAHAHAHAHahaha!!!!)


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Thursday, October 28, 2010

In Living Color

Yes, kiddies, there was a time when our neighborhood wasn't in color! But some kind old wizards at a place called "N. B. C." found a beauuuuutiful peacock and said, "Peacock, would you sit on our screen and show your pretty colors?"
And the Peacock said, "What's in it for me?"
They said, "Fame and fortune untold!"
He (assuming it was a "he") said, "Tell me!"

And so, today, it is famous, and we can all have fun in the colorful displays of our television screens, watching delicious shows, and ...

You're right. I'm gettin' sick, too ... so let's move on:

Actually, it's not hard to imagine a world in black-and-white because, all too often, that's how many of its inhabitants act. They're in a set (non-test-)pattern, with attitudes as drab and blank as that B&W TV set -- unplugged! Even some of the hosted shows were like that ...

Until Uncle Lloyd came along.

Then, not unlike the famed peacock, he painted our screens with vibrant, attitudinal color that was so lively and inventive that we just had to watch!! It was too much fun to switch channels.
(But, unlike that bird, Unc never showed his tail! Today, with all the election hoohah goin' on, too many are doing that already ...)

He was animated -- a guy who could make the Energizer® bunny look like a statue. He was a master of improvisation -- knowing that, whatever life dealt, you could still make something useful out of it. He also went by the theory that, if you believed in your dreams, go after them. Right: He was a believer retriever!

In short, he brought color to everything good ... then brought them to life! (hmph ... and ya thought G. E. brought good things to life, didn'tcha?? He trumped the electrical giant big time!)

Remember the show, In Living Color? The one that introduced us to characters like Damon Wayans, Jim Carrey and the beautiful Jennifer Lopez? Naah, I just wanted to know if you'd remembered it, since I used its name as the title of this post. It has nothing to do with this, really ...

But, for a moment, think of a droll, colorless world where everyone's actions are pretty much "assembly-line" and tentative at best.
Now imagine a world full of Lloyd Thaxtons -- not the man, but his attitude -- his optimism and creativity.

Looks pretty good in color, doesn't it??


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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Did Tiger Beat LT??

Look ... we all know that Tiger Beat™ magazine was Uncle LL's baby, right? Well, one of our British Mouses sent me a column by writer Malcolm Tatum awhile back -- and it didn't make this cheeser happy at all! In fact, I was so steamed I almost threw it out -- until (heh-heh!) I remembered it was on my PC monitor, and ... well, why destroy a perfectly good computer just for a little dirt?
Here's part of what Tatum wrote:

"(In September, 1965) The first issue of Tiger Beat prominently featured a well known disc jockey, Lloyd Thaxton, as a way of helping the fledgling magazine find an audience."
Ahhh -- so Uncle Lloyd was just a marketing ploy, huh?? Hang on, Followers of the Cheese -- there's more!:

By 1966, editor Charles Laufer hired a "a young and engaging blonde" editor (uh-huh. Editor. Editor only. Right ...), Ann Moses. And, "(a)fter several months, the connection with Lloyd Thaxton was played down and finally dropped, but it had served its purpose. By the summer of 1966, Tiger Beat was clearly the cool magazine for any teenage fan to read."

Huh?!?!? OUR beloved Head Cheeser, used for promo purposes?? You mean ... he didn't have stock in the mag?? Hmph ... next you'll tell me that "Sherwin" took on "Williams" to make the paint thinner!
Besides alllll the Mousers who knew Uncle LL personally, we've got other ammunition! According to superstar David Gross' site, Talkin' About My Generation (and listen -- it's a really fab site, so goest thou unto its portals [no, after you finish here])! "Do you remember the Lloyd Thaxton Show? It was the highest rated musical show in the country for eight years. Lloyd was one of the founders of Tiger Beat magazine!"

Besides, ya gotta ask yerself a question, punk (actually, I dunno if he's a punk or not. I rented a Clint Eastwood movie last night, and)
Anyway ...
How many bands do you know that credit its popularity to being seen in TB magazine? Awright ... how many give an appearance on LL's show the props??

How many people looked up, wrote or read something about Tiger Beat (other than yours truly)? Now ... how many (excluding yours truly again) have looked up, read or wrote something about Lloyd Thaxton lately?
(PS You're reading right now, aren'tcha?? Huh??)

How many people has Tiger Beat™ helped in consumer goods, motivation, inspiration or just a great appreciation of teens and their music? Okay ... how many did Uncle Lloyd help? (man, is that an easy choice or what??) (What??)

So ask Howie (of The Turtles), Sal (of The Beau Brummels), brother Gary (fellow cheeser from Oldies Videos), Ken Levine (respected producer) or the millions of meeces around this world: LLOYD THAXTON DID MORE THAN HELPED CREATE A MAGAZINE OR SHOW ... HE CREATED AN ATTITUDE!!

One that'll be with us lonnnnnnnng after the magazine has folded (no pun inten ... well, maybe a littl ... okay, a lot ...)!!


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How Rock Cooled Our Jets ...

Although it was almost xx years ago when Lloyd introduced his show to a national audience (I know how long it's been, but it's just too hard to say the big "5-0"), we had the same troubles then that we have today: teens feuding with each other over some of the small-time stuff.
Those feuds could've been between brothers, friends or even those who didn't know each other (those were called "rumbles", remember?).
But, at five o'clock in the afternoon, it seemed that the dust finally settled for about an hour whilst we tuned the channel, fiddled with the antenna and finally got the TV screen just right. Then we settled in to watch the crazy antics of Uncle Lloyd, listen to the music, and just immerse ourselves in the feel-good ambiance of his show.

By the time the Lloyd Thaxton Show was over, we often didn't even remember what we were fighting about.

Now, his wasn't the only show that produced that effect. In fact, when The Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time, it's said that not even one major teenaged crime was committed in the U.S. at all!
But, to my knowledge, it's the first time that a recurring show itself had this kind of effect.

Some analysts say that the reason behind all that is we learned the value of patience -- in other words, we wanted to see what happened next. Whether it was Uncle LL doing the "opera star" lip-sync to Jay and the Americans' Cara Mia, his zany commercial-split rendition of Bob Dylan's Desolation Row or The Beatles after they finished performing ALl My Loving (the first song they played on stateside network TV), we hung on, entranced by what we saw, certain that something just as fab was gonna be next.
And we forgot our troubles, our arguments, our bickering ...

Sorta makes ya wonder, doesn't it? I mean, here we have 24 hours -- 1,440 minutes -- every day. Yep, all of us! And we don't know what's ahead in the next minute/hour. We've lost our optimistic anticipation. Instead, we're sure the next moment's gonna be like the first, and we continue our fighting -- whether against a neighbour, sister/brother, or nation.

That's why we needed Lloyd Thaxton. He gave us something optimistic -- something positive -- upon which to fix our attention. It built an anticipation that became part of the "baby-boomers'" soul back then.

Would that, somehow, someway, we had someone who could do that for the kids today!
And there is ... at least potentially. Wanna meet him/her?
First, look in the mirror ...

To Be Continued ...


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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Beatle Weapon?

I thought this was rather interesting:

Milos Forman, director of Academy Award-winning "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest," said: "It sounds ridiculous but I'm convinced The Beatles are partly responsible for the fall of Communism."

His claim is backed up by Dr. Yury Pelyushonok, a Canadian based Doctor of Soviet Studies in Medicine and author of "Strings For A Beatle Bass" who grew up in the former USSR in the 1960s:

"The Beatles had this tremendous impact on Soviet kids. The Soviet authorities thought of The Beatles as a secret Cold War weapon,"
he said. "The kids lost their interest in all Soviet unshakable dogmas and ideals, and stopped thinking of an English speaking person as the enemy."

As the interview progressed, Forman also added in: "That's when the Communists lost two generations of young people ideologically, totally lost. That was an incredible impact." Rolling Stone Keith Richards suggests that the music of the 1960s played a big part in bringing about the end of Communism: "After those billions of dollars, and living under the threat of doom, what brought it down? Blue jeans and rock 'n' roll."

It's interesting, isn't it? I mean, the very thing that the Communist regime was so militantly against was what brought it to its knees: freedom of expression ... freedom to be individuals! And the catalyst? The music it despised so strongly!

Ironic, isn't it??


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He Had The Knack ...

A few years back, Uncle Lloyd sent me the two cartoons above.

At first (and without looking at the actual title) I thought, "GREAT 'TOONS! He found one that fits me to a tee -- except for the belly. And the wisp of hair on his head. And the pens in his pocket (see the angle? Obviously that "Chuck" was right-handed! I'm a southpaw ...).

Then I saw the title of the series: BALLARD STREET?!? Why, that ... that was the very street I lived on when I first made contact with him! He either had the knack of knowing his fans and associates real well ... or he was a (gasp!) spy, and that little dawk-dude in my closet had a teeniney webcam (since it dated back to the Sixties, it would've been an old, 35mm, hand-held one with a cranky crank and a spider inside to turn it [well, why'dja think it'd be called a web cam back then, huh?])

Actually, the Head Cheeser had no way of knowing that Ballard Street was "home turf" for a time. But he did have an uncanny heart that felt what we felt, and, no matter what our emotion was, LL had the knack to take that on himself -- he was one of the few who could actually understand what his fans were all about, from the inside out rather than the other way around.

I had the opportunity recently to talk with one of Lloyd's distant relatives, a fellow from the Toledo, Ohio area, name of Mike Thaxton. He said that, while he remembers little about Lloyd, he does know that, from what he's heard, the man knew how to reach people. He was like most Thaxtons from that area, according to Mike: didn't want a lot of attention, just wanted to be the best in their field, make their family secure and happy, and spread that happiness to others.Now, Mousers, I ask ya: Does that describe Uncle Lloyd or what??
When he sent that pic from Uncle Miltie's show, he said he was a little embarrassed by the big intro, though it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Nonetheless, the man was definitely as humble and family-oriented as he was talented and gifted. We all could (and should) take a few pages outta Lloyd's book and apply it to our own lives. We'd be a lot better off for it!
After all ... he had the knack.


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Monday, October 25, 2010

Oh, and By The Way ...

Some of my most cherished emails from Uncle LL (and I've kept 'em all ... really!) have been those that were more "off-the-cuff"; it showed the true LT sense of humour -- and made me realise that, whilst he was a little older than us on the outside, he was the forever-young, perennially cool-dude on the inside!

For example, right in the middle of an email about how radio's turned its back on our music, he added
"Did you know that Paris Hilton has a hotel named for her in France?"
Then he went on with the "radio" talk as if he'd never interrupted.

When I had a few problems pullin' up the blog for editing, he wrote:

"Sorry about your blog problem. I just called up my blog and it came through with flying letters. This blogspot site is a total mystery to me. What is it? Who runs it?

What's in it for them? Why are they doing it?

I have the feeling that they are just waiting for you to become totally hooked and then they will jump in and say, 'Gotcha! That will be $2000 a month please.
But, until then, I will blog on."

Y'see, one thing that Uncle Lloyd showed us through these is that life doesn't have to be serious all the time (don't believe me? Pick up the latest issue. Hold it: I'm told they don't publish the monthly mags anymore. It's a shame, since I just ran outta Time ...). Throw in a little unexpected wackiness if you can on occasion. It's like opening a window and letting fresh air into a stale room.


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"The Tonight Show" starring ...

Well, it coulda happened ...

Uncle Lloyd told me he never got this particular telegram -- otherwise, I believe he would've jumped at the chance!

Can you imagine The Chief being the host of that landmark show instead of Carson (who was magnificent. Also left us way-too-soon ...) and Leno (who, whilst good, still has a noticeable nervousness that Johnny didn't)?
He'd be the first host with five smilin' sidekicks (the finger people). Undoubtedly, he'd have both TV and studio audiences laughing at his antics, most of which would be ad-libbed (today, Craig Ferguson does that on his Late, Late Show and viewers love it! So I'm proven right, right?)
And don't kid yourself; with this superb "people-skills", Uncle Lloyd would've been an excellent interviewer!
And, of course, there'd be great musical guests (I can just see it now: At the end of the show, whilst the act is playing, Lloyd gets the studio audience onstage to dance ... great idea that he used somewhere else, I believe ...)

Alas, it was not to be! Remember when he said he never received the invite? Well, this is the next telegram sent to his manager:

Y'know, when ya think about it, though, maybe it wasn't such a bad thing after all. I mean, look at all that LL accomplished after the show (his, not "Tonight") went off the air: segments for The Today Show, Fight Back! (with David Horowitz), Stuff Happens (and then you fix it!) and countless personal appearances --
and all to help others.
And that's something that no talk-show host (not even Opr ... Opra ... [will lightning strike me if I say her omnipotent name??] Ms. Winfrey) can  match ...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Music and the "Brain Itch"

I was going through some old files a little while ago and found something interesting:
Didja know that, seven years ago, Professor James Kellaris (University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration) found that songs get stuck in our heads because they create a 'brain itch'?
Even I thought it sounded a little fishy, so after researching it myself, I found that this "cognitive itch" is genuine!

You see, music can create an "itch" that can only be scratched by repeating a tune over and over. In fact, it's said Village People's "YMCA" and the Baha Men's "Who Let The Dogs Out", owe their success to their ability to create a 'cognitive itch'.

But it also worked on visuals as well. Uncle Lloyd had a little ditty on his show that filled that same bill -- and, for most of us, it caused the ol' noggin to itch like crazy: We couldn't wait until he and his little five-digit band showed up to perform their lipsync "hit", Linda Laurie's Jose, He Say. Just as with Village People (remember: no "the" at the front!), the quintet was catchy, and the song fit like a hand-in-a-glove (which wasn't necessary in this case).

In fact, Lloyd's lively, spontaneous and infectious humour gave us all our daily "brain itch" -- one that he was glad to "scratch". We talked in the last post about entertainers in politics. And each and every fan is thankful that Uncle LL chose to remain in show business and not throw his hat in the ring for a D.C. gig. He knew, better than anyone, how to scratch our itch -- and continued to do so until he left us to play his celestial gig two years ago.

Let's see any D.C. cat -- past or present -- top that!


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Let's Rock The Vote

A few days ago, an LT fan wrote in and asked, What do u think we would be like if Lloyd hd run for congress?"

Uncle LL for Congress?? Hmmm ... never thought much about that. I mean, we've had stars like Sonny Bono, John Hall (guitarist for Orleans [You're Still The One]) and Fred Grandy on Capitol Hill, and others like Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (Allman Brothers, Doobie Brothers) to run.

But Lloyd?? Naaaah ...

In fact (and I think Brother Gary can back this up) he never talked much about politics (which, I've heard, is a combination of "poly" [meaning "many"] and "ticks" [meaning "bloodsuckers"]).
He was a man of all people, and always wanna be accessible to us. (Try to email your Congressman. How soon do you think he'd reply? Uncle LL was always willing to share, one-on-one, with his fans)

He was the author of smiles and optimism. I couldn't see him trying to push a bill through Senate (unless they had an automatic bill-changer in the foyer). Shoot -- he couldn't sit down long enough to get through a session. The man was constantly busy ...

Most of all, Lloyd was a family man. Anything that took him away for long stretches from Barbara and the kids would be voted down!

We were honoured to have Lloyd Thaxton as one of us -- and doubly so because he really, honestly had a no-strings-attached heart. He didn't serve a set group of "constituents", and would be honest and above-board about everything.
And it was for all of us; not just for L.A., not just for California, not just for Americans.

And, Mousers, that's why I couldn't see Uncle LL as a Congressman.
But he would remind us all to vote if we have 'em on November 2 ... it's the VoP (Voice of the People) that's gonna make or break change (and not the jingly kind ...)


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Friday, October 22, 2010

Mr. T. and Mr. B.

One of the Clique's high-ranking cheese-snatchers (and a great friend to Uncle LL and myself) is the great and mighty Gary Belich (seen here being confronted by IRS agent Ivan Eurmunee on April 16 of this year). He and Gary Quinn have an excellent site on Facebook with enough oldies videos to keep ya rockin' for a decade (that doesn't make him "decadent", though!).
After reading the last post I did on Lloyd and his blog, brother GB weighed in (btw, where'd that phrase come from? One CNN moderator uses it more than an overworked pediatrician! lol) with some thoughts. Now, dig this:

I remember when I "googled" Uncle Lloyd and found out he was blogging. "Cool! Lloyd Thaxton is actually blogging and corresponding with fans!" I heard a few stories beforehand how he never wanted to talk about the past and his music show, but I found out that they were just that.......stories.
Uncle Lloyd LOVED to talk about the past and his music show! He cherished those memories! I'm not saying he lived in the past but he loved to talk about it. His family life in Ohio, his military life, his career........nothing was off-limits.

If you asked a question, he would give you an answer, and an honest answer it was. He had nothing to hide. What was the point? It was the past and nothing can change now, so why hide it or sugar-coat it? What's done was done!
I LOVED his stories about his 60s TV shows. I couldn't get enough about the "behind the scenes" stories about James Brown, The Byrds, Jerry Lewis, Milton Berle, Roger Miller, etc. I just wish that more tapes were saved from the show so eventually fans can witness the master working his craft.
YES, finger puppets were a craft! I miss Uncle Lloyd more and more as every day goes by. He was fun to write to and hear from.

Brother, you hit the proverbial nail right where it counts (or something like that ...). Lloyd Thaxton was open, honest, creative, blunt-if-necessary, and funny as all get-out. They say that "music hath charms to soothe the savage breast"; well, the head of this rodential outfit had charms that could soothe the rest of the body, from nerves to heart to brain!
As Defender of the Cheese (well, it sounds a heckuva sight better than Cutter of the Cheese, which I'm prone to do on occasion [hey ... I'm over 60 now. I'm entitled!]) it was my pleasure to be part of the clique's Three Stooges ... er, Mouseketeers, and equally proud to continue the Thaxtonian legacy here at the Mouse House, with the help of great LT fans like you and Gary (btw, Mr. Belich, Esq., is also on Facebook. And remember to take some pleasant-memory time and visit Oldies Videos on the FB site!). As Lloyd told me once, "Gary is what friends are all about ..."

Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lloyd Speaks About Blogging

This was one of LL's favourite cartoons, especially since he was a highly-respected literary giant who cast his verbiage upon the grammar-hungry creatures known as "bloggers" (hmph ... take that, King! Think you're the only one who can write??) .
Seriously, though (yes, I can be): I've had quite a few emails from Mouse Cliquers to Dawk Knights (hey -- it's what the dude called 'em! I jus' prints the stuff!!) who wanted to know how our Chief actually started blogging in the first place.
Soooooooo, without further ado (did I have an ado?? Then why could I spread what I don't have further??), here's the answer, in his own wordz:

I’m constantly asked why I spend time writing a blog. Who’s going to read it? By last count, there are over 23 million blogs on the web. 23 MILLION! Insurmountable odds? I’m optimistic. I Look at it this way: There are about 300 million people in the United States alone. Do the math. Divided equally, that computes to over 10 million readers for each blog. And, I’m just out to get my share.

Actually, I think my chances are pretty darn good. According to LA Times writer Patrick Goldstein, we are now a nation of niches. “Today’s action is with the country watching cable shows … that play to a specific audience.”

Specific audience? That’s my fans. The Lloyd Thaxton Show was always kind of a “niche.” It certainly played to a specific audience. And that makes me a real “son of a niche.”

It is said that the reason “American Idol” is such a big hit is because there is a huge niche out there that wants to be a member of a group, encouraged by their peers. What the “Idol” audiences love to see are others like them up there competing for fame and fortune. They see how they dance, sing, how they dress, and how they are treated with great respect. They even accept the occasional put-down from judge Simon Cowell as meaningful. “That could be me” is most likely the “Idol” fan’s mantra.

That, if you think about it, is what The Lloyd Thaxton Show was all about. We had our lip-sync contests, dance contests and each show was a showcase for the latest dances and “what-to-wear” on a date. Young people watched because they saw themselves up there joining in the fun. And, everyone was treated with great respect.

Still doing the math, I’ve figured that in the years the show was on the air, we had over 45 thousand dancing and performing teens on the show. And that was just the ones who were actually there, in person, live. Add to that the millions who were watching each show and we had a pretty substantial niche going for us.

According to Princeton University’s WordNet, niche is “a position particularly well suited to the person who occupies it.” In other words, a “clique.”
There is no doubt that the 60s represented a very unique period in history. Think about it. Civil Rights demonstrations and legislation, the Vietnam War, the draft, Woman’s Lib, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Flower Children, Students for a Democratic Society, and Sex Drugs and Rock & Roll. The country has never been the same since.

Throughout this tumultuous time, The Lloyd Thaxton Show was there pumping out The Twist, The Beatles, James Brown, Surf music, Motown music, Top Forty and Rock and roll. And millions of kids were dancing to the music. It was the oasis in the midst of chaos; The calm during the storm. And according to the many letters I’ve received from the show’s fans, it gave a lot of people the confidence that everything would turn out OK. I, myself, am completely awed and humbled by it all.

So, back to the original question: why am I writing a blog? The answer is quite simple. I have a niche I just have to scratch. And so far I feel I have only scratched the surface. Judging by the hundreds of emails I have received, there is a substantial niche out there that wants to hash over a lot of cool memories.

Stay tuned ...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

King Solomon and Uncle Lloyd

Two kings of music, gone too soon, two years apart ...

The pic is from The Lloyd Thaxton Show. His guest: the inimitable "King" Solomon Burke. Naturally, Uncle LL had to play on Burke's nickname; it was just too tempting.
Of course, his gimmick was a hilarious hit!
Sadly, the great Mouser himself, Lloyd Eugene Thaxton -- friend, mentor, writer, host, producer (and a guy who never thought of himself as a "star" ... but just one of us) -- passed away two years ago this month of multiple myeloma.

And, earlier this morning, the other guy in that pic left us for glory.

Solomon Burke, who was undoubtedly one of the best soul artists during the Motown/Tamla era, passed away shortly after getting off a plane in Amsterdam. Though there's no specific word on the cause, the speculation is "heart attack".
He leaves behind 20 children, a large number of grandkids -- and a grieving fanbase that, like Lloyd's, stretched worldwide.

So, with this post, we remember both, who entered our homes and hearts; one with the best of music, zaniness and, yet, compassion and understanding; the other, with the best of deep-down, gritty soul.


Yesterday, of course, would've been singer/activist/rocker/ex-Beatle John Lennon's 70th birthday. Now, I didn't write about it here because (a) I was admittedly tied up with promotions and (b) everybody was writing about it ...
But ...
there is some LennoNews to report:

The FBI raided a Manhattan memorabilia shop and confiscated a set of John's fingerprints this past Wednesday. The prints were from 1976 when Lennon was applying for citizenship and were made at a New York police station. They're not sure how they came to be in the memorabilia shop.

And the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame sealed three time capsules Friday, the day before what would have been John's 70th birthday. The capsules were sealed at the Hall in Cleveland, Ohio, John Moores University in Liverpool, England and, as speculated, in Reykjavik, Iceland, home of the Imagine Peace Tower. Yoko Ono and their son Sean were at the Peace Tower which was re-lit for the coming week.
Meanwhile, an 18-foot monument to John was dedicated in Liverpool by his first wife, Cynthia and their son, Julian.

Oh, yeah; for you who asked for it, here's the very last photo of John that was ever taken whilst he was alive (there is one more, but it's a post-mortem, and should not ever be displayed ...)

And that's it for this edition. Now, there's more to come over the next 24, so ...

Stay tuned ...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lesson From An Old Guitar

Recently, I had some email requests asking that I run the following article. Though it's appeared in other publications since I first wrote it, it's one that, according to Jason -- a faithful reader from Florida -- says that "every upcoming young musician should read".
Thanks for the kind words, Jason -- and for you, Jeri, Steve, Chris and Roberto (and all who are reading this now -- here it is:


Sometimes, the greatest parables can be found in everyday situations. What you’re about to read is something that happened to me in August, 1964. It’s the story of an encounter between me and my father, C. E. Hinson.
I’ll never forget the lesson he taught me that day … it’s one that I’ve passed down to my children, and to others. It’s my prayer that you’ll find the lesson in it, as well, and pass it on to those who can use the wisdom he conveyed in this. My dad was, in my eyes, the greatest man God could’ve put in the 20th Century. He and my mama were the epitome of honour, love and peace … and, to their memory, I dedicate this story.
I hope you enjoy it.


Years ago, when I was just barely into my teens, my dad came home from work carrying a battered, old guitar. He knew I wanted to learn to play one – I’d seen folk groups, country acts – even some new group called “The Beatles” playing them, and it looked like so much fun. In fact, while these performers were on TV, I’d watch carefully for the close-up shots, and (using a baseball bat as a “guitar”) I’d mimic their fingering, position of the chords and timing.

When he gave me the acoustic guitar, I sat down and, propping it up on my knee, began to position my fingers on the neck, just as I had seen the performers do. Certainly, I was going to be the next Elvis. But he did something that I’ll remember to my dying day: He took a big, calloused hand, put it over the fingerboard and stopped me from playing! Then he said, “Son, wait a minute. Let me tell you a little story.

You see, Life’s a lot like that old guitar you’ve got, especially when it’s time to pay your dues. And, just like the sounds you can make on that guitar, the ones you make in life is entirely up to you. We can’t stop you from framming away at it like an off-tune madman any more than we can stop you from playing beautiful music. When you get to be an adult, it’s going to be the same thing when you’re ‘out there’ in the real world. Nobody can stop you; it’s your choice as to what type of ‘music’ you give them.

Now, you see those strings, and how you’re holding them down with your fingertips? Each note is meant to create harmony with each other. That's your goal in life, son … learn to place each thing you do …each step you take … so it’ll be in harmony with mankind. Otherwise, just like with the guitar, you’re gonna make such a noise that nobody’ll want to hear you.”

I listened intently; this was good stuff!

Then he continued, “And, by and by, you’ll learn how to sing with that guitar – maybe even write a few tunes yourself.
When you do, remember that a simple tune does better when the words are from the heart. Make them easy for people to learn … to keep in their mind. And you’re painting a picture with each one. Son, remember to do the same thing in your everyday doings, and you’ll make friends and be happier than you ever thought.
And that ‘song’ that you sing … the one you show everyday in your actions … will be the one that’ll go ‘number one’ with your friends and others. Just leave the lyrics open to your brother’s and sister’s point of view, and they’ll be humming that song long after you’ve gone.

Now … let’s hear you play …”


A couple of years later, I was finally onstage with my very first band, playing a talent-show gig at Pineville Elementary School. Dennis, Dick, Olin, Mickey and I played Steppin' Stone and Please Please Me before losing out (just barely) to Pam Baumgardner's PJ and the Majestics and their cover of These Boots Are Made For Walkin'.

Though we were an appreciable "second place", I came back to the house, a little dejected. My Uncle A.L. was sitting at the kitchen table with mama and daddy and, after a sip of coffee, asked "Well, Elvis, how'd it go?"
Without making eye contact, I mumbled something about coming in second-place. What he said next, though, broke through the gloom and made everything better -- because it was true!

Chuck, you came in second?? Out of how many?? Eight acts? Man, that's good!! You might be shakin' a little from playin' in front of that roomful of people, but now you've got the experience! Nobody threw any 'maters at ya, right? Shoot -- they enjoyed it!! So, since you've already done it, and done it well, you've got it in ya to do it again! You've got the confidence!

Now, do that with everything else in life, and you'll do all right!!"

From Eola Hinson and his brother, my Uncle A.L., came words I'll never, ever, forget.
And to think it all started with an old, beaten-up Kent guitar ...