Fifty years ago, the British Invasion was in full bloom. Beatlemania was surging globally and boatloads of other bushy-haired Brits were arriving on American shores every day. The television schedule was riddled with rock & roll. Dick Clark and his American Bandstand were the juggernaut of the airwaves, but every network has its own iteration of the concert show. Londoners brush shoulders with girl groups, Motown soul singers and California beach bands.
The trend of the teen pop show peaked in 1965, as many of these shows vanished by the summer of 1966. Take a channel surfin' safari with these hits from the mid-Sixties.
1. Hollywood A Go-Go
This syndicated series out of L.A. remains the most obscure, but it stands up next to its network competition. The Gazzarri Dancers, regulars at the Gazzarri's nightclub on the Sunset Strip, shook and twisted throughout the performances. Host Sam Riddle would go on to emcee The Groovy Show for the same network, KHJ-TV. Check out the Byrds in this late episode.
NBC's entry into the field had a bigger budget. That meant nifty prop sets (like, say, The Mamas and the Papas singing amidst a bunch of bathtubs and pipes) and a rotation of celebrity guests to handling the hosting, acts like Sammy Davis, Jr. and Petula Clark. The Hullabaloo Dancers even had a choreographer with Broadway clout. The party went down mostly inside 30 Rock's Studio 8H — the same room that would eventually house Saturday Night Live. Here are the Animals miming their great "It's My Life," nearly 50 years ago to the day.
Disc jockey Jimmy O'Neill co-created and hosted ABC's groovy prime time dance jam. The Shin-Diggers, the requisite dance crew, were choreographed by David Winters — who also led the dancers for the rival Hullabaloo. Glen Campbell, Leon Russell and Billy Preston were formidable names cutting their teeth in the house band. Shindig! took outings to England, and was best remembered for its Beatles appearances. But let's watch Little Eva rocking her only known television performance of "The Loco-Motion."
Another syndicated show out of L.A., Shivaree was produced by ABC. Local head Gene Weed hosted, but the show remains more notable for one of its young go-go dancers — Teri Garr. Rockers like the Stones stopped by, but this archive is a treasure trove for girl group aficionados. Go down a YouTube rabbit hole and chew on some rare bubblegum by Judy Hughes, Mary Saenz, Miki Lynn, Lulu Porter and so many more.
Though it was German, we'd be foolish to leave out the deeply cool Beat Club. It lived on a little longer than its American kin. Because of its continental origin, you'll come across deeper bands. Take the first episode, for example, with the Liverbirds, a killer all-female beat combo from England.