Shine a Light On Me: 40 Years of The Midnight Special

Recently, I was swallowed under a wave of memories while channel surfing. Thanks to some infomercial hustlers who were selling a DVD collection, I was spending the first moments of a new Saturday watching scenes from The Midnight Special for the first time in more than 30 years.

My eyes were fixed to the screen, which was now 52 inches wide and not bound by Curtis Mathis' carved wood. It didn't matter. I was eight years old again, watching Wolfman Jack howl and introduce music's biggest acts.

Pop-music-history stuff: The Midnight Special was a television program on NBC. In the 1970s and '80s, it aired after Johnny Carson's Friday-night episodes of The Tonight Show.. Its producer, Burt Sugarman, created a show that featured many of the era's biggest or most promising music and comedy acts. The show debuted 40 years ago this year.

Its heart beat more than 400 times over nine years. Radio personality Robert Weston Smith -- better known by his on-air name, Wolfman Jack -- was its frequent, but not lone host. Singer Helen Reddy of "I Am Woman" fame also hosted several episodes. Most often, musicians of the day like Olivia Newton-John or Mac Davis, guest-hosted.

The show was such a success by the end of its first season it had spawned a rival, Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, down the dial at ABC.

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You're writing tends to take me back to revisit memories that are so far into my memory bank that I forget they are there sometimes.  Thanks for that.  It's nice to go back every now and again.  I used to watch the Midnight Special too, not religiously, but I watched it enough.  I can remember sneaking into our family living room late at night, we had a gigantic tv, made of redwood, with a big antennae on top of it.  I'd lay on the floor, I can even remember the cold linoleum =yuck, it was puke yellow, don't question my mom's interior decorating fail. ha!  Anyway, I'd lay on that cold floor and watch MS in the wee hours of the night.  Sometimes one of my brothers would join me, be if he did he'd usually fall asleep and miss most of it.  What I remember most about those nights is how mesmerized I became at watching music being performed.  Not the synthesizing bs, but the real deal.  I'd lay there and sing along, if I knew the words, or make them up just because I could.  Sometimes,  I'd sit up and bob my head back and forth to the beat of whatever song the band of the night was playing.  Those were good times.  I never knew Wolfman Jack's real name.  I dunno why.  I guess I never thought to google it before. Hmm, you never know what you're going to learn just by reading a blog.  hehehe   

There are times, such as tonight, after reading this, that I long for the simplicity of life back then...  :)

Good stuff!

MadMac topcommenter

First class writing, Mr. Sendejas. Suffice to say, I can relate on all points--except for the introspection, I can't spell that.

Josh Young
Josh Young

I love that infomercial, but I haven't seen it in a really long time. I'm going to go with Argent - Hold Your Head Up as my favorite performance.

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