07 March 2010


Get the T.A.M.I. Show on DVD

Any musician or music geek worth his or her salt knows about The T.A.M.I. Show, a one-off 1964 TV special/theatrical movie. It capitalized on that year's Beatlemania with an astonishing evening of concert performances by hitmakers from the U.S. and the U.K. in Santa Monica near the end of October of that year:

The film is now available for purchase for the first time (yes, the first time in 46 years). Like The Beatles' Yellow Submarine, The T.A.M.I. Show has been mired in copyright and ownership disputes for decades—bootlegs have abounded, but even those lacked footage of The Beach Boys, who had their part removed after the initial theatrical release in '64.

The T.A.M.I. Show is best known for the explosive performance (and amazing hairdo) of James Brown, then nearing the peak of his powers as a singer, dancer, bandleader, and musical innovator. (He would basically invent funk the next year, with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag.") If you were among those who thought The Beatles were strange and radical in 1964, then this footage of James Brown and the Famous Flames would have simply exploded your head.

But check out the rest of the lineup too: The Barbarians, Marvin Gaye, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Lesley Gore, Jan and Dean (who hosted), The Supremes, Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas, and Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. Plus a few other acts you might have heard of: Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, and The Rolling Stones. All on one concert stage.

It's a shame the movie has been essentially underground since before I was born, but now it will be easy to find starting March 23. I made sure to pre-order a copy, and I'd like to thank Tim Bray for telling me it was showing on PBS tonight. I've been trying to see the whole thing since the 1980s.

Labels: , , , ,


I finally get the "James Brown on the 'Tammy' (T.A.M.I.) show" reference in The Police's "When the world is running down" song. :)
wow. i apparently have been doing "the pony" wrong all these years. ouch!
That Police song is where I first heard about The T.A.M.I. Show, and then I looked into it. Apparently, Michael Jackson also obsessively watched a tape of James Brown's gig there too—there's a forwards proto-moonwalk there that is an obvious influence, not to mention the full-on James Brown impression in the Jackson Five's Motown audition when Michael was nine.
To sambycat -

That was the era of the "hand dances" -- the pony, the hitchhike, the swim, the monkey, the jerk -- and there's really no wrong way to do any of them.