TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

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It's My First Time...

Pop stars pop their cherries on TV

We all have to start somewhere, but in many cases it took a while.

Dusty Springfield

Strictly speaking Dusty had four debuts.

BBC1 The Six-Five Special - Saturday 26th April 1958    
The Lana Sisters - Cry Cry Baby
The Lana Sisters were a singing trio, one of which was Shan Lana, aka Mary O'Brien, aka Dusty Springfield. The trio's recording career ran from autumn 1958 to late 1960, and despite their lack of success in their home country The Lana Sisters did have one top ten hit in Ireland with their final 45 You've Got What It Takes, a song co-written by Motown founder Berry Gordy. A choice of song that would become more obvious in her later solo career. The trio made many TV appearances over their two years of business, including a semi-regular Saturday evening gig on BBC1's Drumbeat.

ABC Thank Your Lucky Stars - Saturday 27th May 1961
The Springfields - Dear John
It would be ten months between The Lana Sisters final TV appearance in July 1959 and her next venture, a folk/calypso singing trio with her brother Dion, aka Tom Springfield and future record producer Mike Hurst. Shan had become Dusty and by this time she had progressed from standing on one end to standing in the middle with the two fellows either side of her. A mere two months' after their TV debut they were given their own four part, fifteen minute, series in the early evenings on the BBC. On Saturday 2nd March 1963 Dusty appeared without the other Springfields on the panel of Juke Box Jury and after a blazing row backstage at Ready Steady Go in August 1963 the trio were finished, but there were still a few appearances that they were contractually obliged to do, with their final appearance on Sunday Night At The London Palladium on Sunday 6th October 1963.

Associated Rediffusion Ready, Steady, Go! - Friday 4th October 1963
Dusty co-hosts the show with Keith Fordyce. With a solo career waiting for her in the wings, she filled in the time appearing as a commere on Britain's newest weekly pop show, along with another appearance on Juke Box Jury.

Associated Rediffusion Ready, Steady, Go! - Friday 15th November 1963
I Only Want To Be With You
Probably as a thank you for her hosting work RSG gives Dusty her solo singing TV debut. Although she would eventually get her own backing band, The Echoes, for live work she would be on her own for the majority of TV appearances. Her mod dress sense singled her out for public attention and her humour brought her back to RSG time and time again.

The Beatles

Granada People And Places - Wednesday 17th October 1962
Some Other Guy, Love Me Do
Nearly two weeks after the release of their debut 45 they found themselves in Manchester's Granada studios for their early evening news show. Since Liverpool never had its own TV channel (although it has one of those community stations now) they had to travel the twenty miles across Lancashire between lunchtime and evening gigs at The Cavern. It must have been something for their fans to see them on TV and in the flesh only two hours' later, but their success would only bring animosity from some of the Cavern regulars who didn't want to share them. Granada's Johnny Hamp had previously seen the band in Hamburg and suggested that the cameras catch them at home in The Cavern when they came back. He filmed them in August 1962 performing Some Other Guy in front of a crowd who were hostile to their new drummer. The clip was put on the shelf until 1963.

The Rolling Stones

Although the band didn't make it to on TV until summer 1963 one member of the group already had some TV experience. Monday 14th September 1959 ATV's Seeing Sport: Rock Climbing was broadcast from High Rocks, Tunbridge Wells in Kent with Michael Jagger and his teacher father explaining the importance of correct footwear. Michael said nothing, just showing us his plimsoles as requested by Jagger Snr.

ABC Lucky Stars (Summer Spin) - Saturday 13th July 1963
Come On
The band were taken to Carnaby Street by Andrew Oldham in order to buy suits for their big TV debut, choosing a houndstooth design for all their suits. The image was at odds with their unkept hair which garnered a comment from the show's host Pete Murray to the effect that the Hairdresser's Union wanted to see them after. Keith nearly caused backstage fisticuffs with the Irish showband The Cadets for what they were wearing. It had to be said they were dressed like part-time sailors.

The Kinks

AR Ready, Steady, Go! - Friday 7th February 1964
Long Tall Sally
Their menagerie of managers bagged The Kinks the best TV show of its era to promote the band's first 45. According to a Melody Maker report at the time they played live, while photos have them playing at the bottom of one of the studio's famous spiral staircases with Pete Quaife and Mick Avory on a large podium and the Davies brothers between them and the camera. Despite the perfect promotional spot it didn't help. It didn't sell, and to be honest it was a poor single. They would have to wait until late July and You Really Got Me until they could outrage parents properly.

David Bowie

BBC1 Juke Box Jury - Saturday 6th June 1964
His first single, Liza Jane by Davie Jones and The King Bees, was featured on BBC1's weekly pop trial Juke Box Jury. That week's jury was made up of Charlie Drake, Diana Dors, Bunny Lewis and Jessie Matthews. According to Geoff Leonard's Juke Box Jury website only Charlie Drake voted it a hit, while Jones was in the hot seat listening to the comments and soaking up the embarrassment before revealing that he was backstage all the time.

Rediffusion Ready, Steady, Go! - Friday 19th June 1964
Davie Jones & The King Bees - Liza Jane
Jones found himself in the company of Dusty Springfield, The Animals and The Crickets for his musical TV debut. However, the single sold poorly and the group were let go by Vocalion after the one release.

The Who

BBC2 The Beat Room - Monday 24th August 1964
The High Numbers - I'm The Face
Their solitary Fontana 45 had been released the previous month but it had strangely been ignored by the modfathers at Ready Steady Go, so a rival knock-off at the BBC send out an invite. They didn't have far to go as the BBC's White City studio was just down the road from Who central at Shepherd's Bush. Sharing the stage with Brenda Lee and The Swinging Blue Jeans they couldn't have made much of an impression beyond their neighbourhood, but they would be back...

BBC2 The Beat Room - Monday 11th January 1965
The Who - I Can't Explain
Four months on, a new name, a new label and a second chance on the same show. The single wouldn't be released for another four days but any publicity would be welcomed as, once again, Ready Steady Go were slow off the mark. To be fair Rediffusion's That's For Me showed the band's promo clip for the record an hour before, but it wasn't a live appearance. RSG would finally find room for them by the end of the month.

Rod Stewart

Rediffusion Ready, Steady, Go! - Friday 30th October 1964
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Rod The Mod gets to perform his debut 45, a cover of the Sonny Boy Williamson song, on the most mod show of all. He was in fine company that week, sharing the bill with The Kinks, the Yardbirds and American stars The Dixie Cups and Sugar Pie Desanto. Photos taken on set show Rod with a twelve string electric guitar, which is odd as there's only an acoustic heard on the record. Just over a year later Rod would have his own documentary special, also for Rediffusion, despite the fact that he had no hits and wouldn't do until the Jeff Beck Group albums in 1968.

The Small Faces

ABC Lucky Stars (Summer Spin) - Saturday 7th August 1965
Whatcha Gonna Do About It
The Small Faces' TV debut was the day after the record's release, but it's certain that some viewers would have seen the singer's face before, even if they didn't know his name. Before forming The Small Faces in 1965 Stephen Marriott had been a successful adolescent actor, making many TV appearances, probably starting with BBC's Mrs Pastry's Progress on 21st April 1962. Later he would appear in Dixon Of Dock Green, William The Pacemaker both in 1963, the same year as his debut 45 Give Her My Regards, which garnered no interest from TV. He also popped up in Sid James' Taxi and BBC's Television Club in 1964, while his two appearances in the pop films Live It Up and Be My Guest were probably more to his liking as he already had his own band who released a 45 in the USA. According to legend keyboard player Jimmy Winston swung his arms around to distract attention away from Steve Marriott which guaranteed that his days were numbered. Sonny & Cher also appeared on the show and became early champions of the group. The following Friday they appeared on Ready Steady Go where Eric Burdon introduced them as The New Faces.

Marc Bolan

Rediffusion Ready, Steady, Go! - Friday 12th November 1965
The Wizard
His debut single The Wizard had been released by Decca and he was given a chance to promote it on the best place he could have. However, that week the show was still mired in controversy over P J Proby's reluctance to appear on the show unless he got what he considered a sincere on-air apology from Cathy McGowan. He had appeared on the show a few weeks' before and had been faded out during one of his songs and threw a hissy fit, threatening never to appear on the show again. Despite his absence, Bolan's debut show looks like a classic, with Wilson Pickett, The Small Faces, Tom Jones, The Nashville Teens, a couple of visiting French Stars Sylvie Vartan and Johnny Halliday, and first-timer Bolan playing his pop-pysch telling of a meeting with a strange man wearing a pointed hat in the woods. It was an uptempo Donovan-esque track which doubtless attracted RSG. He seemed to have impressed Rediffusion TV as they asked him to play the same song on the tea-time favourite The Five O'Clock Club on the 23rd November. But there were a couple of setbacks as intended appearances on ATV's The Mod Ball and ABC's Thank Your Lucky Stars in 1965 put him back to square one. However Lucky Stars came to his aid on 19th February 1966 as he made his third appearance promoting The Wizard, a single which was now three months' old. His second Decca 45, The Third Degree attracted no attention from the telly, so he would have to wait until 9th (or 16th) December 1966 and Ready Steady Go to plug his sole Parlophone release Hippy Gumbo. Desdimona, his one hit with John's Children in 1967, found no takers in TV land, while it would take a year until his return. BBC1's early evening How It is played host to Tyrannosaurus Rex on 27th September 1968, probably to play One Inch Rock. It would be over two years' later, a name change and Ride A White Swan's debut on Top Of The Pops 12th November 1970 to help make Marc the superstar he always thought he should be.

David Essex

Rediffusion The Five O'Clock Club - Tuesday 11th January 1966
Can't Nobody Love You
His second of four 45's for Fontana resulted in an appearance on tea-time's Five O'Clock Club, plugging the track that had been released the previous month. He would be back on the show 23rd August 1966, promoting the dodgy sounding (for a kids' show) Thigh High. There's no documentation of another appearance until a November 1968 slot on Granada's Discotheque plugging his only Pye 45 Just For Tonight. There had been another one off, this time for MCA's UNI label in 1968. Had he stayed with them he might have been given a chance to appear on 1969's Jesus Christ Superstar, but it wasn't to be. A few more appearances on Time For Blackburn in 1968, London Weekend's Set 'Em Up Joe in summer 1969 and Lift Off in 1970 still added up to nothing. He made brief appearances in a couple of movies, before getting the leading role in the West End production of Godsdpell, leading to a hit cast recording and a highlights broadcast on BBC1, Easter Sunday 1972. Despite his theatrical career there's no evidence of any acting appearances on TV before his first musical one, unlike Peter Noone, Davy Jones and Stephen Marriott. There would be a couple of 1973 appearances for John Denver and the God-slot What Shall We Tell The Children?, reading a Spike Milligan story, before the debut of Rock On for London Weekend's Russell Hary Plus on the 26th August 1973.

Elton John

TWW Now!!! - Friday 20th May 1966
"The Bluesology" were listed for this edition in Melody Maker backing Patti LaBelle & Her Belles. Elton/Reg Dwight's band were supporting them on a nationwide tour. Although Bluesology were a recording act in their own right, releasing two singles on Fontana, no TV producers appeared to be interested.

BBC1 Juke Box Jury - Wednesday 27th December 1967
The 433rd and (thankfully) final edition featured Spencer Davis as the Hot Seat guest who mentioned that Reg Dwight and Bernie Taupin had written a song for his band's new LP.

BBC1 Lulu and A Song For Europe - Saturday 22nd February 1969
Elton and Bernie's song I Can't Go On Living Without You was in the shortlist of six songs to be considered as the UK entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. The British TV audience thought it not as good as Boom Bang A Bang apparently, but to be fair that song actually won the contest (along with three others).

Granada Discotheque - Wednesday 19th March 1969
Ayshea's debut as a co-host featured the proper TV debut of Elton Johns, as the TV Times listed him. It was likely that he was still promoting his second single, Lady Samantha, which had come out two months' before.

Pink Floyd

Granada Scene Special: It’s So Far Out It’s Straight Down - Tuesday 7th March 1967
Interstellar Overdrive, Percy The Ratcatcher (aka Matilda Mother)
Nicely timed to co-inside with the release of the first 45, Arnold Layne, on the 10th March, Manchester based Granada came down to 'that there London' in January 1967 to observe the freak-out scene. They caught the band at the UFO Club, in the west end of London playing to similarly freaky dancers. The previous day however Granada might have played another show in the Scene series called The Rave. It was to feature The Move with Pink Floyd as guests.

Led Zeppelin

BBC All Your Own - Sunday 6th April 1958
The JG Skiffle Group - Mamma Don't Allow, The Cotton Song (Cotton Fields).
Jimmy Page and his school chums like thousands of others had formed their own skiffle group. However, by this time it seemed a bit late. Skiffle was fading, slowly being replaced by blues copyists, something that Page would later latch on to himself. But they were given the chance to appear on national telly and on Easter Sunday there they were live on a youth talent show. From Radio Times "A programme in which children from all over Great Britain have been invited to take part. Introduced by Huw Wheldon." Jimmy and his pals were briefly interviewed by host Weldon about their ambitions. Having made music his living Page would later appear on ABC's Thank Your Lucky Stars on 6th March 1965 playing his solo 45 She Just Satisfies.

BBC1 How Late It Is - Friday 21st March 1969
Communication Breakdown.
The Flying Burrito Brothers were to be musical guests for the second edition of BBC1's late night venture into the counter-culture, but they couldn't appear due to a Musician's Union dispute, but it was hoped that they would appear on the 9th May show. Jimmy Page later claimed that this was a pilot show, which gave the impression that they had appeared on the first edition of the show on 14th March, but they were in Sweden on that date. The producers hoped to book Led Zeppelin again for a future edition. Some chance.


BBC1 Monster Music Mash - Tuesday 4th November 1969
Ambrose Slade - Martha My Dear, Wild Winds Are Blowing.
The public could be excused some chin-scratching regarding this TV debut. McCartney's Martha My Dear was taken from the band's first LP which had been credited to Ambrose Slade, while the other song, their new single released two weeks' before, was credited to The Slade. The musical content, pop-pub-club-rock with electric fiddle was at odds with their visual style, as they were sporting their new skinhead look, suggested by their manager Chas Chandler. Despite the apparent mess, it wasn't a total waste of time as the BBC's radio half kept asking them back to play live and they nearly hit the charts with The Shape Of Things To Come in the new year. But another change was on the cards. They would spend the next eighteen months growing their hair, or lampchops in Noddy's case, and preparing their next unforgettable move.