In the period between American Bandstand and MTV, several shows tried to bring rock ‘n’ roll to television. In the wake of Elvis Presley and the Beatles’ debut on The Ed Sullivan Show,’60s series like Hullabaloo, Shindig and The Music Scene featured rock and pop performers. But it wasn’t until The Midnight Special premiered on August 19, 1972, that rock ‘n’ roll found its own home on the air.
This September, the TV DVD archivists at StarVista Entertainment/Time Life will bring consumers back to the ’70s for the seminal, groundbreaking live music TV show on DVD, featuring extensive bonus features! The Midnight Special Collector’s Edition will be released in a beautifully-packaged 11 disc set, featuring nearly five hours of specially-produced bonus features and a 32 page collector’s book. There will also be two retail configurations, available September 9th: a six disc set and a single DVD.
“It’s one of the definitive documents of what was really going on in music then,” says Steve Miller.
Back in the early ’70s, the only ways for fans to see their favorite rock stars were in concert, or in the pages of magazines like Rolling Stone or Creem. So the idea for The Midnight Special, which ran on NBC from 1972 to 1981, came to creator Burt Sugarman in a light-bulb moment. A veteran of producing Grammy Awards telecasts, Sugarman was frustrated by the network’s lack of programming after The Tonight Show – the screen reverting to test patterns at 1 a.m. A next-door neighbor to Johnny Carson, Sugarman recognized this TV wasteland for what it was: a place where he could cater to an audience that craved seeing its latest rock ‘n’ roll heroes brought into their living rooms every Friday night. And, with the pilot, which premiered at 1 a.m. on August 19, 1972 with Johnny Rivers rendition of The Midnight Special, Leadbelly’s classic gospel song, he did just that.
“The Midnight Special was one of the greatest music television shows that was ever done,” says Barry White.
A “must-have” for fans of ’70s music and ’70s pop culture, The Midnight Special Collector’s Edition, priced to add to every music lover’s home entertainment collection at $99.95, features eight discs of 130 incredible live performances from the era’s greatest stars (carefully selected from 423 complete shows), one disc of comedy performances and two discs of specially-produced, exclusive bonus programming, including interviews with Peter Frampton, Alice Cooper, Loggins & Messina, Eddie Money, George Benson, Charlie Daniels, Todd Rundgren, Helen Reddy, Neil Sedaka, creator Burt Sugarman and many more; as well as 12 featurettes, including “The History of The Midnight Special,” “Wolfman at Midnight,” “Star-Studded Stage Fashion,” “No Safety Net: Live on TV,” “I Am Woman: Helen Reddy as Host,” “Benson & Frampton Talk Shop,” “The Making of The Midnight Special” “The Legacy of The Midnight Special,” a Burt Sugarman featurette, and more. Additionally, the collector’s set includes a 32 page, full-color booklet with an intro from Burt Sugarman, artist photos, liner notes and more.
With nearly ten hours of live performances, The Collectors Edition features a roster of “who’s who” in ’70s music, including:
- Aerosmith / “Dream On”
- Alice Cooper / Medley: “Eighteen/Only Women/Billion Dollar Babies”
- Bee Gees / “Nights on Broadway”
- Earth, Wind & Fire / “Shining Star”
- Electric Light Orchestra / “Evil Woman”
- Fleetwood Mac / “Over My Head”
- Gordon Lightfoot / “Sundown”
- Heart / “Crazy on You”
- Helen Reddy / “I Am Woman”
- Jim Croce / “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”
- John Denver / “Take Me Home, Country Roads”
- KC and the Sunshine Band / “That’s the Way (I Like It)”
- LaBelle / “Lady Marmalade”
- Linda Ronstadt / “When Will I Be Loved”
- Marvin Gaye / “Let’s Get It On”
- Peter Frampton / “Show Me the Way”
- REO Speedwagon / “Keep on Loving You”
- The Doobie Brothers / “Listen to the Music”
- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / “American Girl”
The Collectors Edition also includes some unique collaborations that were a hallmark of The Midnight Special, such as:
- Aretha Franklin & Ray Charles / “Takes Two to Tango”
- Carlos Santana & George Benson / “Breezin’ “
- Etta James & Dr. John / “I’d Rather Go Blind”
- Gladys Knight & B.B. King / “The Thrill Is Gone”
- Helen Reddy & The Bee Gees / “To Love Somebody”
- John Denver & Cass Elliot / “Leaving on a Jet Plane”
- Neil Sedaka/Captain & Tenille / “Love Will Keep Us Together”
The 6 disc retail set ($59.95 SRP) and the single ($12.95 SPR), will include 96 and 16 live performances, respectively, and a host of bonus features.
“It was so electric in the studio. We knew we were blazing new trails.” – Creator Burt Sugarman
A musical micro¬cosm of its era with highlights offering some of the most indelible moments of the ’70s airwaves, The Midnight Special has, at long last, been preserved for music lovers everywhere. And with in-depth featurettes and interviews, home audiences can truly visit the ’70s anytime, courtesy of StarVista Entertainment/Time Life.
Pre-order Begins: August 12th
Run time: Approx. 16 hours
Online Exclusive Collection includes:
- 11 DVDs in deluxe collector’s edition packaging
- 130 Complete Live Performances
- Classic comedy from The Midnight Special by Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, George Carlin, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin and Freddie Prinze, and more.
- 32-page collector’s booklet with an intro by creator Burt Sugarman, liner notes from The Hollywood Reporter’s Contributing Editor Roy Trakin and archival photos
- Almost 5 hours of hours of specially-created featurettes, in-depth interviews and more.
- Twelve featurettes including: “Benson & Frampton Talk Shop,” “Burt Sugarman,” “George Benson: Early Influences,” “I Am Woman: Helen Reddy as Host,” “No Safety Net: Live on TV,” “Songwriting” Featurette, “Star-Studded Stage Fashion,” “The Musical Diversity of The Midnight Special,” “The History of The Midnight Special,” “The Legacy of The Midnight Special,” “Behind the Scenes of The Midnight Special,” and “Wolfman at Midnight”
- Interviews with: Alice Cooper, Burt Sugarman, Charlie Daniels, Christopher Cross, David Steinberg, Eddie Money, Frankie Valli, George Benson, Harry Wayne Casey, Helen Reddy, Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon), Loggins & Messina, Mark Goodman (MTV), Melissa Manchester, Neil Sedaka, The O’Jays, Peter Frampton, Robert Bell, Thelma Houston, Todd Rundgren
The Midnight Special Collection (6 DISCS)
Street Date: September 9th
Price: $59.95 srp
Run time: 8 hrs., 27 mins.
The Midnight Special (Single)
Street Date: September 9th
Price: $12.95 srp
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.