The TAMI Show / Take 2
by Dave Schlichting
The coolest Cuban Heels ever were worn by Keith Richards in the most underexposed rock media event of the 60's, just seeing the light of day on on DVD March 23rd.
Let me take you back. Back in the day, we grew up under the influence of rock ‘n’ roll, being molded by it and in turn molding it. If you were there or know someone who was, play along with this game – name the ten most important events in the development of rock ‘n roll.
I’llthrow some out off the top of my head, Alan Freed/CousinBrucie/Wolfman Jack/Jerry Blavat – and Dick Clark for blasting it across the airwaves and tv screens; Elvis’ whole career; Chuck Berry telling stories, rockin’ with a beat and playing the soon-to-be-copied
everywhere guitar licks on our radios and turntables; Buddy Holly and the Death of Buddy Holly; the Beach Boys ripping off Chuck Berry and having Fun Fun Fun in the Cali sun; Berry Gordy’s stable of Mowtown thoroughbreds that included Smokey, Marvin, Diana,
and the snakepit full of Olympian gods of the studio with names, like Jamerson, Van Dyke etc; the Beatles on Ed Sullivan; Dylan going electric and inciting Pete Seeger to wield an ax (according to myth), Hendrix at Monterey, and so on. I am sure there are some I am overlooking, but one event that has been majorly overlooked by all of us until now is the T.A.M.I show.
The T.A.M.I. show hit theaters across America in 1964 exposing all teens, not just those on the coasts, to the wildest, most eclectic rock n roll package show imaginable. You could never see a show like this on tour for obvious reasons - nearly everyone was a headliner. Jan and Dean, Smokey, Marvin, the Supremes, the Beach Boys, Chuck, the incomparable unrivaled James Brown and his band and lastly the Rolling Stones. This show was a teen rock and roll wet dream.
I read somewhere that David Crosby described the birth of the Byrds something like this – ...we all went to see A Hard Days Night and we said that’s what we want to do. Well, as enjoyably cute and entertaining as the Beatles’ movie was with its “aw poor Ringo” moment and all - the T.A.M.I show was something altogether different and more inspiring to
myself and, I imagine, many others....
Here, in one show, you could see American rock n’ roll and r & b, integrated, sweaty, smooth and funky. A panoramic survey, the pick of the litter, kinetic, in black and white on the big screen.
For Teen America this was the first chance to actually SEE and experience James and what he does. He had me from the moment he slid onstage dancing, his feet a blur, the Flames synchronous steps, James’ shout, Good God! the knee drops, his acolytes drape the cape and
comfort him, the revolt - James throws off his cape to struggle back, step by step to the mic and plead some more, baby, baby, baby please don’t go. None of us had ever seen anything like it and I for one caught the fever for life.
The Stones unfortunately had to follow James after he burned down the house. This was the early model with the too beautiful Brian Jones and his even cooler teardrop Vox guitar, scruffy Keith copping Chuck Berry licks all over, and Mick not nearly as insufferable as he was to become. They were at a peak, healthy unpretentious and playing the young-boy blues that they cut their teeth on. This was before they developed many of their affectations. Kinda funny to see Mick meekly try that little white-boy-pretending-James-Brown dance of his right after the Master tore up the stage with it. But scruffy kids as they were, they hung in and comported themselves well, even if (IMHO) they didn't carry the day.
And Keith, lovable because he is the school boy-yet-to-become Keef, has those historic whatthefuckarethosetheyaresocool Cuban Heels.
All across the land, kids started thinking, "Let's go start a band !"