The T.A.M.I. Show

Funny that I just wrote about Chuck Berry and then the concert film, “The T.A.M.I. Show” is on public television tonight here in DC.  It’s part of their pledge drive, guess it hasn’t been shown in years.  Berry leads off the show with two songs, starting solo with Johnny B. Goode.  Good stuff.   The show was taped in Santa Monica in 1964 in front of 2000 screaming teenagers, and was one of the first shows to include American and British acts of the time.


  • Smokey Robinson and the Miracles in matching white suits, even choreographing a move where they take off their suit jackets and later, their exit from the stage.
  • Marvin Gaye comes out with three female backup singers.  Then a curtain of what looks like balloons drops down and it’s goodbye backup singers.  The curtain later rises.  At one point he’s also joined by four gyrating dancers that would have made Ed Sullivan spontaneously combust with the amount of hip shaking going on.  Marvin had one of the best voices of all time, but based on the display I just witnessed, dancing was not his forte.
  • Jan and Dean as emcees.  To introduce Leslie Gore they are wearing sweaters that say “GORE” all over them.  Wonder if they dusted those off in 2000.  After Gore, they drop the emcee gig and sing “Little Old Lady from Pasadena.”  The teenage white girls in the audience approve.
  • Gore gets a bunch of the artists to come out and stand around looking awkward while she sings “I’ll Cry If I Want To.”  Except for Berry, who is doing dance moves I can’t describe but he is having fun for sure.
  • The girls go even crazier for the Beach Boys.  Some tight-fitting flat front trousers and candy-stripe button downs are fashion statements.  Bad ones.  A young Teri Garr can be spotted as a backup dancer.   Despite the bad outfits, it’s a good performance and they’ve gotten the most airtime so far.  A crowd shot shows an out of place looking white dude in dark sunglasses just sitting while all the girls around him are screaming and jumping around.  Where was Roman Polanksi when they were taping this?
  • Supremes play Baby Love, which I’ve written about before.  Closeups of Diana Ross’ hairdo show that there is a solution to the NFL’s concussion problems.  People would just bounce off that.
  • One of Jan and Dean, I don’t know which is which, douses the other with a fire extinguisher in the intro to James Brown (his backup band is the Flames).  What?  Aren’t those things toxic?
  • Holy crap can James Brown dance!  He is moving constantly throughout the upbeat “Out of Sight” and he still sounds great.  That’s talent.  He slows it down for his next number, but that still can’t stop him from moving.  Even when he screams, he sounds good.  He is sweating like Patrick Ewing right now, but think he’s definitely working harder than Patrick did in this stage of his career.  He hits the floor three times during this number and his black pants have scuff marks in the knees.  Each time he has a band member come over, help him up, put a cloak on him and try to lead him away from the mic, but he keeps coming back as the band member tries to convince him not too (in some of the worst acting this side of this).
  • Have to break this up into two bullets.  James is still going, back to the uptempo Nighttrain.  The camera cuts to possibly two of the only African-American kids there.  James breaks out dance moves I’ve never seen before, including something I’ll call the Flamingo.  Another cut to the crowd, he’s got the crowd doing a call and repeat with “Night” “Train” but there is a young black girl just standing up, transfixed, and still.  I think if I was there that would have been my reaction.  They were hyping this as the best live performance ever.  And well, I’m not sure I could disagree.  That was amazing.  And lost in the greatness of Brown, the backing band the Flames rocked the house as well.  I guess when you have all that energy up front it’s infectious.
  • The Rolling Stones have to follow James.  Mick is trying his best to outdance James in their opener.  A valiant effort, but he’s not close.  Slow it down for bluesier numbers, including Time Is On My Side.  They definitely seem to be wanting to pay homage to their American influences here.  Keith Richards looks old in 1964.  Whoa, they just did a crowd shot of a guy who could have been a dead ringer for Kurt Cobain.  Jagger breaks out two sets of maracas for I’m Alright and prances out on the catwalk to the approval of the crowd.  The Supremes come out and sing backup on their last number, and the rest of the performers follow.  James Brown is front and center again.  Chuck Berry is on the side, seeming to be enjoying Keith Richards blue licks.  And that concludes the telecast, though apparently there is more to the concert.

I’d recommend this to music fans even if you’re not a huge fan of some of the acts.  It’s quite the spectacle.  And the James Brown set should be required viewing for any music fan.

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One Response to “The T.A.M.I. Show”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Two points for every mention of the Beach Boys. They’re dreamy in any outfit.

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