As the 60’s flourished, the music of this new decade permeated our lives, literally book ending each and every day! Mornings began when our new “clock radio” turned on, tuned to our favorite radio station, at bedtime, music would quietly put us to sleep as we all secretly listened to our tiny Chrystal or Transistor sets we kept hid underneath our pillow, away from the eyes and ears of out parents! However our favorite daily music memory has got to be racing out of school as the 3:00 bell rang! My best fiend Gary and I would head straight to my house, grab a Coke and turn on our favorite “After School” Dance Shows” In the early days all we had was Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” Straight into our living rooms from Philadelphia..? The in Studio dancers looked odd and uncomfortable, and Dick Clark was anything but cool but Gary and I didn’t care about the dancers or Dick Clark, we were there for the live in studio guests, which to our dismay were usually some teen idol type who happened to be in Philly or “The Tri-State area, we endured a steady rotation of Freddie Canon, Paul Anka and Frankie and Annette. Plus the whole program reeked of Dick Clark’s safe, white bread, Americana, yet Gary and I still watched and openly entered into daily debates with the T.V. Screen about how often we’ll have to sit through another Steve Alaimo guest appearance ( right now, if you’re asking yourself who Steve Alaimo is, you’re not alone and that’s our point ) After a few years, Dick made some big changes! He ditched the uncool looking Philly Teens, moved the show to L.A., hired professional dancers and shot every show at some exotic location in So. California. He called it “Where The Action Is”, and with it being from L.A. the quality and diversity of the artists who appeared live greatly improved, but we still had to endure Dick’s “Safety first, No Risks approach to music Television!
In the mid-Sixties Gary and I were without a doubt, new music junkies, i,constantly spinning the radio dial, changing T.V. Channels and reading everything or anything new and different which never included “American Bandstand”, “Where The Action Is” or any other local “Dance Show. And by the end of 1964 Gary and I were convinced that anything new and exciting could only come from one place,…England! And that went for T.V. Dance shows as well Meanwhile, Gary and I reluctantly tolerated Dick Clark’s image of what an American Teenager cared about, we began hearing about a weekly dance show in London, a Friday night program that one critic called “Dangerous” Are you kidding, DANGEROUS ? Now you have our attention Gary and I jumped on it and began our research, which always included a trip to the Pasadena Free Press book store where we read through every music publication they offered! In a matter of minutes from the other side of the magazine rack Gary shouts out “Rick, Ready Steady Go”! Me: Hunh? Yes, Gary found an article about this “Dangerous” Dance show shot in the basement of a local T.V. Station with no air and crammed with long haired kids, The walls of the basement/ makeshift studio were wet from the dancers, cameras and lights! Poetically and technically speaking, IT WAS DANGEROUS! And the host? Her name was Cathy McGowan She was as far from Dick Clark anyone could be ( and we’re not speaking Geographically ) Ready Steady Go was hosted by a sultry black haired Yardley girl who looked like she just stepped off Carnaby Street It just didn’t get better than Cathy McGowan! And the music? Forget about the cookie cutter “Clean Cut Top 40 types, on any given Friday night on RSG you’d catch The Who, The Kinks, The Animals, The Zombies, The Stones and yes, The Beatles! RSG really was “Where The Action Is”
Long before “Top Of The Pops, Ready Steady Go was breaking the rules, breaking the law, breaking new artists and re-writing the production notes on how Television and music should be seen and heard!
Please, take a moment and enjoy this revealing documentary about Ready Steady Go and the uniquely talented people who created it! And, of course share your thoughts, especially if you grew up in the U.K. and enjoyed this ground breaking series!