In the 1960s, television was a rapidly growing force in American life, and as a result, small-screen exposure proved extremely valuable to many artists’ careers. In our first installment of this feature, “Turn On, Tune In,” we took a look at some of the rock groups who were lucky enough to make appearances on popular programs of the day. However, there are so many of these fascinating cameos out there that we couldn’t possibly have included them all in one article, and now, we’re finally headed back into the archives to pull out even more noteworthy appearances for part two. So pop a Swanson dinner in the oven, and get comfy on the couch. It’s time to tune in and rock out.
1) Chad and Jeremy on The Dick Van Dyke Show (02/10/65), Batman (12/15/66), & The Patty Duke Show (02/17/65)
One of the more frequent guests acts on ’60s television was British singing duo Chad and Jeremy, who showed up in everything from one-time specials to an episode of Laredo, which was intended as the pilot for a spin-off series that never came to be. But even though they didn’t get their own show, the boys still received their fair share of air time and were actually trusted with the rare privilege of speaking roles, likely because of their drama school background.
In their Dick Van Dyke appearance, Chad and Jeremy are renamed the Redcoats and spend most of their time evading legions of screaming fans. The primary purpose of the episode is to poke fun at Beatlemania via corny one-liners, but it’s easy to see why the ladies love these charming lads. Chad and Jeremy prove to be good actors as well as performers, pulling off many clearly scripted jokes that could have easily fallen flat in the hands of someone else. In addition to their witty banter, they treat viewers to a couple of tunes, including an honest-to-goodness live, on-set rendition of “No Other Baby” (at 3:06). As we noted in our first installment, this was not the norm, as bands usually had to mime over a pre-recorded track, which we do see later (at 22:27) when the boys pretend to play “How the Time Goes By.”
On Batman, Chad and Jeremy are allowed to play themselves, and once again, they perform to a crowd of ecstatic teenage girls. But in a somewhat bizarre turn of events (which to be fair, is only par for the course on Batman), Catwoman steals their angelic voices with a strange device, causing a birdlike chorus of shrieking from the audience. Had this incident occurred in real life, it most likely would have ended with Catwoman’s head being ripped from her body by rage-stricken fans. But then again, this series was not known for realism.
Finally, in the duo’s appearance on Patty Duke, our titular character is credited with discovering Chad and Jeremy, or rather “Nigel and Patrick,” and together they record what appears to be a perfectly produced home demo of “The Truth Often Hurts the Heart” in Patty’s bedroom with nothing more than a reel-to-reel player, a single microphone, and two acoustic guitars. Talk about talent. But still, no matter how trite the content of the show may be, Chad and Jeremy make anything they’re in worth the watch.
2) The Daily Flash on The Girl From U.N.C.L.E (01/31/67)
The Daily Flash were one of many west coast groups of the era who dabbled in both psychedelic and folk rock. They had a strong reputation as a live band and supported a number of major acts, including the Byrds, the Doors, Cream, and many more. Unfortunately, their recording career was not quite as successful, though they did manage to score a local hit in California with a cover of Ian & Sylvia’s “The French Girl,” which is presumably what led to them being cast in this particular episode of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Opening for Jim Morrison is one thing, but how many groups can say they performed onstage with Stefanie Powers posing as a go-go dancer? It’s probably safe to assume that the odd little tune “My Bulgarian Baby” was composed for the purpose of the episode, as it was not written by the band and has that weird, off quality of someone parodying the hip young people’s music. Still, in spite of the strange song choice, someone was apparently very impressed with the band’s performance because the Daily Flash were later cast as the house band for an LA teen show called Boss City.
3) The Factory on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (03/22/67) and F-Troop (02/09/67)
If you don’t recognize the Factory, you may recognize Lowell George and Richie Hayward, who played in the group prior to their success with Little Feat. Although it seems to be the studio recording anyway, it’s unfortunate that the Factory’s fabulous gem “Lost” is largely buried under Gomer Pyle’s obnoxious mugging. They seem to be playing a few other songs as well, but it’s nearly impossible to tell over all the dialogue. Yet, it is important to note that this situation was not unusual. Many bands’ guest performances served only as background noise and tended to be obscured by whatever was going on with the main characters. As annoying as it is now, the editors did have to take run time into consideration, and logically, it doesn’t make much sense for the plot to stop until the band finishes their set. But then again, maybe they were just trying to avoid paying too many royalties.
At first, the Factory’s appearance on F-Troop seems to make up for their short changing on Gomer Pyle, as this time around, they are actually given a significant role and some lines. However, in a decade full of zany comedies with unexplained cameos, F-Troop was among the zaniest, and this episode is no exception. Although F-Troop generally had a blatant disregard for historical accuracy and contained plenty of tongue-in-cheek anachronisms, their parody of the Beatles is still chronologically baffling. The Factory portray the Bedbugs, dressed in full mop-top regalia, circa 1964, yet they play vaguely Eastern-influenced melodies like those of the Beatles’ later years. Not surprisingly, the 19th century men of F-Troop do not approve of this music. By the episode’s end, the Bedbugs do gain some fans, and we learn that white guys in redface really dig sitar-inspired licks, but not nearly as much as they love folk-song covers. You’ll just have to watch the whole thing for yourself to fully fathom its campy strangeness.
4) James Darren and the Fantastic Baggys on The Flintstones (03/12/65)
The Fantastic Baggys are better known as songwriting team P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri, who are presumably backing James Darren, aka “Jimmy Darrock,” in this segment. In the episode, Darren basically plays himself, a teen idol, disguised as a lifeguard who has to save Fred from his own poor surfing skills. After giving a surfing award to the Flintstones at the end of the episode, Darren sings the Fantastic Baggys’ song “Surfin’ Craze,” which is basically a reworking of the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA,” which in turn, is an infamous rip-off of “Sweet Little Sixteen.” All things considered, I think we can safely assume that Chuck Berrystone pressed infringement charges after the credits rolled. But at any rate, Sloan and Barri are hardly present here, and since they weren’t even officially credited, they might not actually be playing or singing on the tracks heard throughout the episode. Still, I like to think that P.F. Sloan really can play the guitar with his toes, as shown at 1:47.
5) The Standells on Ben Casey (03/29/65) and The Bing Crosby Show (01/18/65)
In our last feature, we examined the Standells’ appearance on The Munsters, wherein they essentially played a lousy Beatles cover band. However, on Ben Casey, they get to perform something a little more in their wheelhouse with this groovy garage rock instrumental. They take a backseat to the action though, and the real star of the scene turns out to be Marlo Thomas, pre-That Girl. In truth, the song that the band is miming over may not have even been recorded by the Standells themselves, as many bands simply served as stand-in’s to put a face to the background music.
Fortunately for the group though, they did receive a more important role on The Bing Crosby Show a few months prior. Here they star as the Love Bugs, another Beatles parody and the favorite band of Crosby’s onscreen daughters, Janice and Joyce. As is to be expected, the elder folks just don’t get the kids’ obsession with these long-haired weirdos, but the Love Bugs still end up performing in their living room to the girls’ delight. I find it particularly hilarious how Janice and Joyce’s reaction is to walk up to the band and helplessly stare them in the face as they play, which is honestly what I might have done if my favorite band magically appeared in my house when I was a teenager. All in all, the Standells seem to be having plenty of fun with this episode, doing strange little dances in their Fab Four suits and playing a grand total of five songs, including “The Break Song,” “Everybody Do The Ringo,” “Someday You’ll Cry,” and “Come Here,” which is even more tunes than you’d hear in an average Monkees episode. But the main event is when old Bing decides to join in on a rendition of “Kansas City” in arguably one of the coolest, most unexpected musical team-ups to ever happen on ’60s TV (see it at 6:18).
6) The Mosquitoes on Gilligan’s Island (12/09/65)
You may not be able to tell from the sort of music they’re playing here, but this group is actually the same one who sang the Gilligan’s Island theme for the show’s first season. In reality, they were called the Wellingtons, but here they are saddled with a title that I can only assume is yet another corny Beatles reference. Regardless of the goofy name, their songs “Don’t Bug Me” and “He’s A Loser” are actually pretty darn catchy pop tunes, and their onstage antics are amusing as well.
The Mosquitoes’ main purpose in this episode is to provide a beacon of hope for the castaways, who want the Mosquitoes to help them get off the island. Needless to say, that plan doesn’t pan out. Along the way, Ginger, Mary Ann, and Mrs. Howell form a singing trio called the Honeybees, whose performance of “You Need Us” is noteworthy for another, more subtle cameo. Singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon’s voice was actually dubbed over Mary Ann’s solo (at 1:01), since Dawn Wells was such a bad singer that, while filming a different episode, producer Sherwood Schwartz asked her to simply mouth the words to “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” while the rest of the group sang along.
7) The Yellow Payges on The Name of the Game (03/27/70)
The Yellow Payges were never a particularly successful band, but they are definitely the best part of this episode of Name of the Game, a largely forgotten show that had the privilege of being one of TV’s first “wheel series.” Once again, we have a guest band playing the role of scenery at a hip local club, but I chose to include it for the Payges’ awesome psych rock tune “Follow the Bouncing Ball,” which we hear in bits in pieces alongside a few closeups of the band. The episode also features brief appearances by two other uncredited groups at the Psychedelic Daisy, but their identities sadly seem to have been lost to history.
8) The Righteous Brothers on Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (02/11/67)
Please Don’t Eat the Daisies was a spin-off of the 1960 film and 1957 book of the same name. From what I can gather, it was just a typical family-based sitcom, and it seems telling of the show’s quality that the only clips available on YouTube are from this episode featuring the Righteous Brothers. The plot involves the Nash family hosting the Righteous Brothers while they are in town to play a show at the fictitious Ridgemont College. Joan and Jim Nash also happen to be performing at a PTA musical that same weekend, and when Jim doesn’t show up on time, the Righteous Brothers fill in and help Joan out with a cover of the Roger Miller classic “King of the Road.” Later on, they perform “Sticks and Stones” at the college and thank the Nashes for their hospitality. Since I wasn’t able to locate any other segments from the episode, I’m not sure if the Brothers were given very many lines or how many scenes they appeared in, but I am curious to know how good their acting chops were.
9) The Supremes on Tarzan (01/12/68)
Unfortunately for the purposes of this article, whoever currently owns the rights to Tarzan has purged any and all clips of the Supremes’ guest appearance from YouTube. But it’s such a fascinating cameo that I simply had to include it anyway. Who in the world came up with the idea to have the Supremes play nuns? And to make the situation even more bizarre, James Earl Jones also stars as a tribe chieftain, which is something you kind of have to see to believe.
Naturally, the Supremes are singing nuns who pay a visit to Tarzan’s neck of the woods in order to set up a hospital in a remote native village. Although they do put their vocal talents on display, the Supremes actually have speaking roles and act as regular characters central to the plot, rather than just playing themselves or fictional musicians, thereby bucking the norm for band cameos of the day. If you manage to get a hold of this episode, I’d recommend checking it out, not only for its relative strangeness, but for the chance to hear the Supremes’ lovely harmonies.
10) Davy Jones (03/06/61) and Peter Noone (12/11/61) on Coronation Street
Of course, Americans weren’t the only ones putting big stars in their television dramas. One British show that did so without even realizing it was Coronation Street. This popular program, which is still running to this day, was brand new when Davy Jones and Peter Noone stepped on the set. Long before he became a Monkee, Jones got one of his very first acting gigs as a young boy named Colin Lomax, and later that same year, 14-year-old Peter Noone snagged the role of Stanley Fairclough. Both of their tenures on the Street were minor and lasted very briefly, but as we know, these actors-turned-singers would move on to much bigger things soon enough.
11) Neil Diamond on Mannix (10/07/67)
Ahh, good old Neil Diamond. What better place to end our roundup of ’60s acts than with an artist who was set to become a truly massive star within the following decade? Much like Buffalo Springfield on Mannix, Diamond gets to play live but is largely restricted to creating ambiance for a club, though this particular venue is far less swingin’ than the place where Springfield performed. He puts on lovely acoustic versions of “The Boat That I Row” and “Raisin’ Caine” amidst a peaceful crowd until, in a shocking turn of events, our guest star is actually permitted to utter a single line after a fight breaks out and Mannix lands flat on his back. In response, Diamond quietly gets up from his stool and sarcastically asks Mannix to let him “finish the set by myself” before continuing to play over this poor man sprawled on the floor. Way to show your concern, Neil.