The Beat Goes On, Part II: Rock and Pop on Shindig! and Hullabaloo

by Karen A. Romanko

The mid-sixties were an exhilarating and fertile period in the history of rock music. The Beatles burst upon the American scene in 1964, and before you could say “mop-top,” an entire British invasion had followed them, taking our shores by musical storm. Variety series, such as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace, listened to the call of youth, featuring rock and pop acts like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Petula Clark. An exciting time! But those shows were geared toward the whole family, parents included, so we cool kids had to wait through plate-spinning and knife-throwing acts to get to the good stuff.

Then something miraculous happened. In September 1964, a scant seven months after the Beatles had first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a series called Shindig! debuted in prime time on ABC, and suddenly there was a music show just for us. No one over 30 was invited (or so it seemed). An A to Z of rock groups, from the Animals to the Zombies, made the scene, as well as Motown artists, such as Marvin Gaye and the Supremes, and even a house band called the Shindogs. The Fab Four even brought Beatlemania to Shindig! on an all-British edition of the show, broadcast on October 7, 1964. I was such as avid “Shin-digger” that I wrote an essay about the series for a sixth-grade assignment about our favorite TV shows. (I got a B+. I’m shooting for an A this time!)

Promo for the Beatles’ appearance on Shindig!

Not to be outdone, NBC premiered it’s own rock and pop variety series, Hullabaloo, in January 1965. The show’s large budget allowed for striking visuals, including giant props and wild sets, like “Hullabaloo A-Go-Go,” where iconic “caged” go-go girls danced to the music of featured performers in a club-like setting. You can get a taste of the energy and excitement a-go-go from this clip, as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles perform the aptly named “Going to a Go-Go” on Hullabaloo in 1966.

Hullabaloo featured lots of guest hosts, mostly from the pop music realm, including Chad and Jeremy, Paul Anka, and Hullabaloo’s first female host, Petula Clark. A long list of musical guests contributed their talents, including Dionne Warwick, Sonny and Cher, The Lovin’ Spoonful, and the Rolling Stones.

Petula Clark as Hullabaloo’s first female guest host.

Alas, the moment lasted only a moment. The last episode of Shindig! aired on January 8, 1966, while Hullabaloo a-went-went on April 11, 1966 (not including reruns). Network tinkering with both the program-length and scheduling for both series was the main culprit, especially someone's brilliant idea to put the second weekly episode of Shindig! on Saturday nights, when older teens were not at home. The drive to make a popular show even more popular has killed many a TV series.

But I have my memories, and I’m happy to share them with you here. If you'd like to read more on 60s rock, please check out the first post in this series: The Beat Goes On: Rock and Pop on Sixties Sitcoms.

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  1. You earned your A+ grade this time! Lot's of youthful energy on exhibition in these shows. I got winded just watching the Smokey Robinson clip!

    1. I appreciate the A+, Dr. D! 👩🏻‍🎓 😂 Yeah, that clip is lightning in a bottle! ⚡️

  2. Definitely an A+! Thanks for the walk down Memory Lane!

    1. You’re welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by. The teacher who gave me the B+ was Mr. Passanisi! 😉


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