In the period between American Bandstand and MTV, several shows tried to bring rock ’n’ roll to television. In the wake of Elvis Presley and the Beatles’ debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, ’60s series like Hullabaloo, Shindig and The Music Scene featured rock and pop performers. But it wasn’t until The Midnight Special premiered on August 19, 1972, that rock ’n’ roll found its own home on the air.
Fans can again enjoy this seminal, groundbreaking live music TV show with the release of The Midnight Special Collector’s Edition, a beautifully-packaged 11-disc set that includes nearly five hours of specially-produced bonus features and a 32-page collector’s book. Amazon is also offering a 6-DVD set and a single DVD version.
The Midnight Special’s eclectic lineup reflected the show’s commitment not only to rock, but also to mirroring the Top 40 melting pot of the 70s, including genres such as folk, blues, R&B, soul, country and pop. For much of the run, the show was presided over by the legendary, gravelly-voiced DJ Wolfman Jack (Brooklyn-born Bob Smith), who was recruited as a permanent announcer and made his debut in episode 2; he would go on to become the living symbol of the show and a powerful draw for performers who were more than happy to share the stage with him.
A variety of guest hosts appeared along with Wolfman Jack over the years including such ‘70s music icons as the Bee Gees, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Loggins and Messina, Richard Pryor, The O’Jays, Electric Light Orchestra, KC & the Sunshine Band, plus frequent host Helen Reddy. Viewers and members of the studio audience were treated to one-of-a-kind concert events direct from The Midnight Special stages such as Aerosmith, Earth, Wind & Fire Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Jim Croce or John Denver. Additionally, the show featured the day’s top comedic talents, such as Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, George Carlin, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin and Freddie Prinze, among many others.