On August 19, 1972 a special program appeared on NBC urging younger voters to get out and vote in the upcoming presidential election. Sponsored by Chevrolet, the special feature live acts performing their own music, something rather unique at the time since, like many appearances by acts on TV today, most of the time when acts like these appeared on television shows, they were lip-synching to pre-recorded tracks.
The special was produced by Burt Sugarman as a pilot for an idea he was trying to sell to the network. It proved such a hit that NBC decided to buy the program to run after Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show on Friday nights, and thus The Midnight Special was born.
The Midnight Special ran for 450 90-minute episodes and featured hundreds of musical acts during that run. It ran until May 1, 1981, when it was finally replaced by SCTV (short for Second City Television) as part of a negotiation by Dick Ebersol to take over the reigns of Saturday Night Live, which was floundering at the time.
Here are some highlights from the show which will give you a taste not only of the diversity of the acts presented, but for you younger readers a taste of the music of the time.