Strange Rock Star T.V. Appearances
Rock stars tend to be a little weird. Maybe it is because eccentricity comes with creativity. Maybe they just get carried away in trying to sell their chosen persona. Maybe they are just too rich and successful to care about behaving within social norms. Maybe they are on so many drugs they don't even know what they are doing. Here are five of weird rock star T.V. appearances from the past.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono: The Mike Douglas Show
In February of 1972 Mike Douglas allowed John Lennon and Yoko Ono to co-host his show for a week. They were on for five consecutive episodes, and during most of that time things were pretty normal. Some of the guests were picked by Lennon and Ono, so you got the leader of the Black Panthers and George Carlin after he stopped doing T.V. friendly material. There were some weird moments though. They started each show with a broken cup, which they would glue one piece to each day. This was supposed to represent gluing the fractured world back together. The most truly bizarre moment though, came when Chuck Berry was on the show. Berry was one of Lennon's heroes and inspirations, and the two shared the stage to do renditions of Memphis, Tennessee and Johnny B. Goode. It was a pretty cool moment. Right up until Yoko, who had been playing bongos in the background, picked up a microphone and started doing her patented wailing sounds over the rock and roll classic being performed. Chuck Berry was visibly startled, probably wondering where the dying cat was. Yoko hijacked what would have been a great rock moment and turned it into comedy.
George Harrison: The Dick Cavett Show
George Harrison was charming and open on his appearance on the Dick Cavett show. He answered questions about the Beatles, about drugs, and about current events. The reason I include this appearance here, is that George is very open with his disdain for things like appearing on T.V. talk shows. He is only there to promote the Concert for Bangladesh, and makes it clear that were it not for the fact that he considered the cause to be important he wouldn't be there. I think that this attitude is actually what makes the interview so interesting. He is not guarded at all, and seems to answer more freely and honestly than someone who was worried about selling themselves might have done. The strangest part was Harrison reading the cards that told the people on set when the commercial breaks were coming up and the stage direction.
The Sex Pistols: Today
The British show Today hosted by Bill Grundy had scheduled Queen to appear on the show. Unfortunately, Freddie Mercury had a bad tooth and had to cancel in order to see a dentist. The Sex Pistols were quickly offered up as a replacement. The train wreck that resulted made headlines in the UK. The host repeatedly insulted the band. The band repeatedly uttered curse words, including the forbidden F-bomb. Bill Grundy was seemingly putting the moves on Siouxsie Sioux. Grundy cajoled the band to be outrageous in their last five seconds and they obliged. People were outraged at hearing the filthy language on their morning television show. It is the moment that made the Pistols both famous and infamous. With everyone talking over each other, it is hard to even hear what was being said. Overall, just everything that a talk show of the time was not supposed to be. But it was certainly more interesting than the scheduled interview with Queen would have been.
KISS: The Mike Douglas Show
KISS was new to the scene and unknown by most of the country when they made their appearance on the Mike Douglas Show. Before the band had played, Mike had Gene Simmons come out and do an interview segment. Keep in mind, people hadn't seen the band yet and had no idea why this man was dressed so ridiculously. Gene came out and shook hands with the host and other guest. He then tried to stifle his obvious stage fright by going into character as the Demon. He talked about how appetizing the audience looked, and described himself as "evil incarnate". He stuck out his freakishly long tongue to the laughter of the audience. Fellow guest Tottie Fields punctured right through his act when she said "Wouldn't it be funny if underneath this he was just a nice Jewish boy?" The appearance ending up being only slightly less of an unintentional comedy than their later made for T.V. movie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park.
Alice Cooper: The Muppet Show
As tame as he may seem these days with his golf addiction and campy stage show, in the seventies Alice Cooper was considered a dangerous influence on kids. This makes his appearance on the family friendly Muppet Show surprising in itself. That he chose to go along with a story in which he is a servant of the Devil makes it even more perplexing. In the show, Alice tries to convince the Muppets to sell their soul to Satan in exchange for fame and riches. While Kermit flatly rejects the offer, Piggy is tempted for a short time, and Gonzo is enthusiastic in his desire to sign off, only to be foiled by his inability to secure a pen to sign the contract. The show is intended to poke fun at the sinister reputation Cooper had at the time, but a lot of people took the idea that he was satanic seriously and probably didn't find the joke all that funny. Remember, this was a time when people seriously thought that KISS was an acronym for Knights In Satan's Service. While the show seems like an odd choice for the time, it is a lot of fun and Alice Cooper's performance of Welcome To My Nightmare while surrounded by Muppet monsters is fantastic.