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7 Pop Groups and their Ridiculous TV Guest Spots

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Musicians have always needed some sort of platform from which to promote themselves, and before music videos became commonplace, the logical avenue was prime time television. Even if the premise was painfully clichéd (the Mosquitoes on Gilligan's Island, anyone?), it was a mutually beneficial arrangement; the episode was guaranteed to attract hordes of teen viewers, and the band garnered valuable exposure. Here are seven examples.

1. Chad & Jeremy Invade U.S. TV

British duo Chad and Jeremy fancied themselves as the U.K. version of the Everly Brothers, but had only limited success in their homeland. However, their timing was perfect to make a splash in the U.S., what with both the British Invasion and the folk music craze being in full swing on these shores. C&J had a string of hits on the American charts and at one point were the default duo for any TV show requiring mop-topped singers with a British accent. They appeared on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Batman, Laredo, and even The Patty Duke Show, as seen here:

2. Buffalo Springfield on Mannix?

Joe Mannix was as tough as they came when it came to hard-boiled private eyes, and he had a darned fine head of hair that never got mussed whether he was clocking a perp with his mean right hook or chasing after one in his customized Toronado convertible. In a 1967 episode of the Mannix detective series titled "Warning: Live Blueberries," Joe visited a counter-culture-type nightclub on the Sunset Strip in search of a runaway college coed. If you watch carefully, through the smoky haze you can catch glimpses of Buffalo Springfield playing in the background. That clip is unavailable online, so instead we invite you to enjoy Stephen Stills, Neil Young, et al performing on an episode of The Hollywood Palace later that same year. Notice that the bass player is performing with his back to the audience. That's because he is a roadie filling in for bassist Bruce Palmer, who had recently been deported back to his native Canada after a drug bust.

3. The First Bewitched Appearance to Lack Magic

Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were very successful songwriters who also yearned to be pop stars in their own right. They'd auditioned to become members of The Monkees, but instead of getting on-camera roles, they were hired to write hit songs for the Prefab Four. Boyce and Hart eventually did hit the Top 10 on their own in 1968 with "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight." Two years later, their star had faded and they tried to revive their career with an appearance on Bewitched that only served to emphasize two sad facts of life: fringed vests and cowboy hats can't cover up goofy dance moves, and women should not attempt to turn horse blankets into slacks.

4. The Munsters dig on The Standells

The Standells are familiar to Boston Red Sox fans thanks to their hit "Dirty Water," which is played after every home victory. We hate to burst anyone's bubble, but the Standells are from California, not Massachusetts. Worse still, they didn't even write the song-- their producer did. A year before "Dirty Water" was released, The Standells played a command performance on The Munsters, during which they played a version of The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and another song called "Come On and Ringo." (Hardcore Standells fans have been searching for a copy of this tune forever, and it still hasn't turned up anywhere, not even on a bootleg.) Click here to see the performance.

5. The Seeds (and some Mothers-in-Law) inspire the Ramones

The Mothers-in-Law was a Desilu production that lasted two seasons in the late 1960s. The show centered around next-door neighbors whose adult children married each other and moved into the garage (converted into an apartment) behind their parents' houses. In one episode, the kids decide they want to manage a rock band called The Warts, but they need their parents' financial help. "The Warts" were actually the proto-punk band The Seeds, who performed their garage classic "Pushin' Too Hard." (The late Joey Ramone later revealed that this song was what inspired him to become a singer and form a band.)

6. Rock rocks the F Troop

How much influence did the then-new genre of rock and roll have overall on 1960s popular culture? Enough so that bands turned up in the strangest places, including post-Civil War America. An appearance by long-haired men bearing guitars was guaranteed to bring in ratings, so a ragtag group of musicians called The Bedbugs popped up on an episode of F Troop, playing electric guitars on a stagecoach (of course). Eagle-eyed viewers will note that two of the Bedbugs were Lowell George and Richie Hayward, who would later gain fame as founding members of Little Feat.

7. The Flintstones get Sly

The Beau Brummels were one of several successful bands to emerge from the Bay Area during the mid-1960s. Listening to their hit "Laugh, Laugh" (performed here on The Flintstones), with its oh-so-mellow Summer of Love ambiance, it's hard to believe that it was produced by Sly Stewart, who would later go on to front the funk/R&B group Sly and the Family Stone.

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The Time Douglas Adams Met Jim Henson
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On September 13, 1983, Jim Henson and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams had dinner for the first time. Henson, who was born on this day in 1936, noted the event in his "Red Book" journal, in characteristic short-form style: "Dinner with Douglas Adams – 1st met." Over the next few years the men discussed how they might work together—they shared interests in technology, entertainment, and education, and ended up collaborating on several projects (including a Labyrinth video game). They also came up with the idea for a "Muppet Institute of Technology" project, a computer literacy TV special that was never produced. Henson historians described the project as follows:

Adams had been working with the Henson team that year on the Muppet Institute of Technology project. Collaborating with Digital Productions (the computer animation people), Chris Cerf, Jon Stone, Joe Bailey, Mark Salzman and Douglas Adams, Jim’s goal was to raise awareness about the potential for personal computer use and dispel fears about their complexity. In a one-hour television special, the familiar Muppets would (according to the pitch material), “spark the public’s interest in computing,” in an entertaining fashion, highlighting all sorts of hardware and software being used in special effects, digital animation, and robotics. Viewers would get a tour of the fictional institute – a series of computer-generated rooms manipulated by the dean, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and stumble on various characters taking advantage of computers’ capabilities. Fozzie, for example, would be hard at work in the “Department of Artificial Stupidity,” proving that computers are only as funny as the bears that program them. Hinting at what would come in The Jim Henson Hour, viewers, “…might even see Jim Henson himself using an input device called a ‘Waldo’ to manipulate a digitally-controlled puppet.”

While the show was never produced, the development process gave Jim and Douglas Adams a chance to get to know each other and explore a shared passion. It seems fitting that when production started on the 2005 film of Adams’s classic Hitchhiker’s Guide, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop would create animatronic creatures like the slovenly Vogons, the Babel Fish, and Marvin the robot, perhaps a relative of the robot designed by Michael Frith for the MIT project.

You can read a bit on the project more from Muppet Wiki, largely based on the same article.

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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.


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