The Midnight Special was an late-night television series that broadcast in the U.S. from 1972 – 1981. The 90 minute show featured bands and musicians playing in front of a live studio audience. Presenting viewers with the opportunity to see their favorite music performing live on television. A rare opportunity back in those days.(Did I say that?) Adding to the fun was DJ, host and 70s pop-icon, Wolfman Jack, who attempted to provided some hip-comedic aspect to the show.
For younger fans the Midnight Special presented a problem. The show starting long after my parents had ordered me to bed. So a bit of strategy was needed before I could make my silent journey to the family television set. Typically, I sprang into action right after The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson ended. That was the signal: my parents were off to bed. And as soon as their light went off, I was on the move; sneaking down a short hallway, through the darkened kitchen and, finally, into the living-room. One simple “click” of the television and it was Midnight Special time! And there I would sit for the next 90 minutes. Crosslegged in the floor in front of the screen. Hoping for a rare glimpse of perhaps Kiss or David Bowie. My ear pressed hard against the tiny television speaker so I could keep the volume low but still hear the Wolfman’s introduction of each new act. To be honest, the show was often filled with disappointments; band’s like the Bay City Rollers or those soft-rock mavericks Breador America dominating the program. But life is like that, so I waited impatiently for the good stuff. And there was always at least one performance each show worth seeing; the chance to see the New York Dolls or Roxy Music or AC/DC was simply a revelation. And made the entire high-risk, late-night operation worth all the effort. Remember, this was long before there was easy access to music videos or live performances.
Of course, Funkadelic never performed on the Midnight Special. No such luck. But I did discovered the band from watching the show. It happened during a commercial break when a 30 second promo-video played for George Clinton’s other band, Parliament. Somehow the clip managed to get past the network marketing department and into the living-rooms (and bedrooms) of Americans across the country. Just a quick shot or two of the band performing live in support of their latest album, Parliament Live. And let me tell you, those few moments were enough to make a remarkable impression on me. Parliament was a band unlike anything I had ever seen or heard before; the wild music, those outrageous costumes and a spaceship(?!). Amazing shit and eye opening for a young music fan from Detroit. Filling my head with thoughts of what a P-Funk concert would be like. Fortunately for us now, that same 30 second television promo is available; Parliament / Earth Tour. Just 30 seconds of video, resulting in a lifetime of pursuing all the Cosmic Slop. Be warned and check out the Vinyl Dreamscape’s Top Ten Funkadelic / P-Funk Family Albums;