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Season 1

  • S01E01 Introductory Programme

    • February 12, 1977

    Popular music is an essential part of our daily lives. Yet we know comparatively little about it – where it came from, how it developed, how it has influenced or been influence by social change. Today, the popular music industry controls billions of dollars; it has a greater revenue than the combined efforts of the cinema, theatre, sport, and all the other entertainment industries put together. Yet the industry depends, ultimately, on the creative talents of a group of remarkable individuals. The story of popular music, therefore, is a story of the struggle by these individuals to survive the demands of this gigantic industry. This introductory episode explains some of the aims and ambitions of this seventeen part spectacular entertainment. featuring Aretha Franklin Billie Holiday Bing Crosby Bo Diddley Buddy Rich Dizzy Gillespie Duke Ellington Dusty Springfield Edith Piaf Eric Clapton Everly Brothers Glen Campbell Hoagy Carmichael Jerry Lee Lewis Joan Baez Judy Garland Liberace Muddy Waters Paul McCartney and Wings Richard Rodgers Ruth Etting The Beatles The Bee Gees The Rolling Stones

  • S01E02 God's Children

    • February 19, 1977

    It is generally assumed that American popular music comes from the coastal regions of Africa; that the slaves brought drums to the United States; that jazz originated, somehow, in New Orleans; that the blues developed in the Mississippi Delta, and later became the cornerstone of everything from rock n roll to ragtime. All of these assumptions are untrue, and this episode with seek to uncover the real story – in Africa, on the edge of the Sahara; in Austria and the Salzkammergut; in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas; in New Orleans and in Texas. featuring Duke Ellington Ginger Baker James Brown LeRoi Jones Lightnin' Hopkins Rufus Thomas The Platters Tina Turner

  • S01E03 I Can Hypnotise 'Dis Nation (Ragtime)

    • February 26, 1977

    Thanks to the hit movie, “The Sting”, everyone reckons they know about Ragtime. But do they? This Episode includes the oldest known piece of film (1898) showing what the cakewalk was really like. Also extracts from The Royal Ballet production based on Scott Joplin’s music, “Elite Syncopations”. Also extracts staged by the Houston Grand Opera of Joplin’s only surviving opera, “Treemonisha”. There is also rare early film of Irving Berlin (Alexander’s Ragtime Band) as well as film of Joplin’s birthplace and of the madhouse where he died. Although reference is made to other early ragtime composers, this episode is essentially the story of Scott Joplin – an extraordinary tragedy of failure, frustration, pride, of the black man’s struggle to achieve for himself a proper place in American society. featuring Christies Ethiopian Serenaders Eubie Blake Houston Grand Opera and the music of Scott Joplin Irving Berlin Monica Mason Rudi Blesh Terry Waldo

  • S01E04 Jungle Music (Jazz)

    • March 5, 1977

    Jazz is not a black music, nor a white music. Nor is it structureless improvisation. Nor did it originate in New Orleans. As created at the turn of the century throughout the Amerian south, it had a quite specific and limited meaning. Its form was strict, as were the morals and musical principles which guided its early exponents. This film will seek to examine the origins of jazz, and show how these were exploited and eventually lost by greed. Jazz is a story of apartheid in music in which a unique blend of white musical discipline and black sensibility was comprised and laid waste. featuring Charles Mingus Charlie Parker Chick Corea Count Basie Dave Brubeck Dizzy Gillespie Duke Ellington Earl Fatha Hines George Shearing Hoagy Carmichael Ian Carr John Lewis Kid Ory Louis Armstrong Mike Gibbs Miles Davis Paul Whiteman

  • S01E05 Who's That Comin'? (The Blues)

    • March 12, 1977

    Blues is a word you have to think about before it can be understood. Contrary to popular belief, blues – as a form of music – does not appear until 1910 or so, that is after ragtime and jazz. Blues is not, therefore, the cornerstone of popular music. Rather, it has become an emotional response, through music to a variety of oppressive social conditions. The Episode begins in the Delta of Mississippi and follow the progress of itinerant blues musicians to the steel mills and automobile factories of Chicago; from harmonica and fiddle, to electric guitar and fashionable nightclub. Finally, the Episode shows how blues phrases and harmonies were stolen by white rock n rollers in need of a new gimmick. featuring B.B. King Bessie Smith Billie Holiday Leadbelly Memphis Slim Mighty Joe Young Muddy Waters Ray Charles Roosevelt Sykes Son House Victoria Spivey Willie 'The Lion' Smith

  • S01E06 Rude Songs (Vaudeville and Music Hall)

    • March 19, 1977

    Music Hall, as a description, means exactly what it says. A hall, usually at the back of a tavern or pub, in which music was performed by local entertainers for financial gain. It is thus the earliest example of a popular music industry. In a sense, through all its manifestations, music hall or vaudeville or variety has remained true to this original description. Thus, the film begins and ends in Las Vegas (with Judy Garland), a palace of varieties to end all palaces of variety. En route, we travel via London’s Palace Theatre, the Palladium and the Windmill. featuring Charles Aznavour Charles Coburn Clara Bow Danny La Rue Edith Piaf Flanagan and Allen Florrie Forde Harry Lauder Judy Garland Liberace Little Tich Mae West Marie Kendall Marlene Dietrich Maurice Chevalier Mrs Shufflewick

  • S01E07 Always Chasin' Rainbows (Tin Pan Alley)

    • March 26, 1977

    Tin Pan Alley existed to make money. IT organized and rationalized an embryonic music industry for the mutual benefit of these who did the organizing. Tin Pan Alley brought to popular music a collective sense of purpose. Songs were no longer the creative prerogative of a few gifted, composers. They could be written to order, in ten minutes, for all combinations of instruments and voices. Its organization included pluggers, copyists, demonstrators and arrangers. Songs were written by committee, by number, and by role. There were “product”, and the greater the “product”, the greater the profit. featuring Al Jolson Bing Crosby Bob Wills E. Y. Harburg George Gershwin Hoagy Carmichael Irving Berlin Irving Caesar Perry Como Rudy Vallee The Carter Family

  • S01E08 Diamonds As Big As the Ritz (The Musical)

    • April 2, 1977

    This is a story of how a remarkable and very different number of theatrical elements were welded together into something also remarkable and very different called “the musical”. From operetta, vaudeville, variety, burlesque, revue and most importantly British music hall, came “the musical”. But it did not come about by accident. It was the deliberate and conscious achievement of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein (who wrote, among others, “Showboat” and “Oklahoma”) and the director Rouben Mamoulian. Against considerable opposition, both critical and commercial, they created a new art form which was unique and yet familiar. featuring Agnes de Mille Bob Fosse Galt MacDermott Glynis Johns Harold Prince Joseph Papp Ken Russell Lionel Bart Lorenz Hart Oscar Hammerstein Jnr. Richard Rodgers Rouben Mamoulian Stephen Sondheim Tom O'Horgan William Hammerstein

  • S01E09 Swing That Music! (Swing)

    • April 9, 1977

    For most of its history, popular music has rarely been that which most people like Jazz, for instance, has always been a minority interest. But in the era which was dominated by swing, the music and its popularity were equally matched. White musicians became bored with the asinine popular music they were expected to play, music pumped out by Tin Pan Alley, and tried to emulate the style and freedom of their black counterparts. Most of them were too intelligent as musicians to indulge in mere imitation. What they created was the first white music based on black music which was not stolen from black music. featuring Art Tatum Artie Shaw Benny Goodman Bing Crosby Bud Freeman Buddy Rich Cab Calloway Dick Vance Fletcher Henderson Frank Sinatra Gene Krupa Guy Lombardo Harry James Lawrence Welk Lionel Hampton The Dutch Swing College Band Tommy Dorsey Woody Herman

  • S01E10 Good Times (Rhythm and Blues)

    • April 16, 1977

    In the late forties, white record companies labelled commercial black music “race music”. Eventually, Jerry Wexler, then working at Billboard magazine as a reporter, thought of the phrase, “rhythm and blues” and it caught on. Before long, numerous other descriptions appeared – Motown, the Philadelphia Sound, Soul – but all had in common that the music expressed the rising aspirations of the ghetto. Meanwhile, a curious imitation of black gospel appeared called white gospel. And among those who loved the sound were two remarkable men; one a record producer, Sam Phillips, who wanted to create a sound which had the discipline of white gospel but with the abandon of black rhythm and blues; the other was Elvis Presley. featuring Aretha Franklin Bill Haley Bo Diddley Clyde McPhatter Ike and Tina Turner Jerry Wexler Johnnie Ray Pat Boone Stevie Wonder The Lefevres Family The Platters The Supremes Wilson Pickett

  • S01E11 Making Moonshine (Country Music)

    • April 23, 1977

    Country music was, originally, home-made music. It described the births, marriages and deaths that happened in every community. It celebrated love, just as it bemoaned the ill-fortune that came to every man. It was music with which all felt they could identify. As such, it occupied a unique place in white culture. The music was not manufactured, as in Tin Pan Alley, nor sophisticated, and this episode describes the process by which this change came about. Finally, we will be backstage at the Grand Ole Opry during one of its regular nationwide broadcasts, with a blessing to finish from Grand Ole Gospel Time. featuring Bill Anderson Doug Kershaw Ernest Tubb Jimmie Driftwood Jimmie Rodgers Minnie Pearl Roy Acuff Roy Rogers Tex Ritter Webb Pierce William Ivey and Stars of the Grand Ole Opry

  • S01E12 Go Down, Moses! (Folk 'War Songs')

    • April 30, 1977

    After Nashville had raped American country music, it might seem that the folk traditions this music embodied had been lost. Not so, because these traditions had a purpose other than to entertain. We shall see how folk music used popular melodies to spell out unpopular themes, how during the American War of Independence filthy words were penned against the British Crown, but all to the tune of ‘God Save The King’. The same happened during the American Civil War – different words, depending on whether you were from the North or the South but to the same tune. Song has been used by such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, Peter Seeger and Leonard Cohen as a passionate weapon for peace. The effect these singers managed to achieve in the sixties was one of the stronger causes of the American defeat in Vietnam. featuring Arlo Guthrie Bing Crosby Country Joe McDonald James Simmons Joan Baez Leon Rosselson Leonard Cohen Pete Seeger Peter, Paul and Mary The Andrews Sisters Vera Lynn Woody Guthrie

  • S01E13 Hail! Hail! Rock n Roll (Rock n Roll)

    • May 7, 1977

    The story of rock n roll begins and ends in Memphis, Tennessee, in the tiny studio of record producer Sam Phillips. He tells of how he discovered Elvis Presley and of the struggle he had to get Presley accepted. It was not the overnight success story that is popularly believed. Before long, however, Presley came to symbolize the spirit of an entire generation. How did this happen, and why? Or was it the product of Sam Phillips’ imagination and Presley’s stage presence? featuring Bill Haley Carl Perkins Chubby Checker Chuck Berry Cliff Richard Conway Twilty Elvis Presley Gene Vincent Jack Good Jerry Lee Lewis Little Richard Lonnie Donegan Pat Boone Sam Phillips Terry Dene Tommy Steele

  • S01E14 Mighty Good (The Beatles)

    • May 14, 1977

    “They were very scruffy” recounts Allan Williams, the Beatles’ first manager, as he describes the Beatles’ early escapades in Hamburg and Liverpool Soon Brian Epstein appeared on the scene, although he didn’t like the sound the Beatles made. Nor did any record producer, and even George Martin now admits that he never believed they would make worldwide hit song writers. There was a cost, of course, which eventually had to paid for this extraordinary euphoria. But, at the time, no-one seemed to care. featuring Allan Williams Bill Graham Brian Epstein Derek Taylor Donovan George Harrison George Martin John Lennon Mamas and the Papas Murray the K Paul McCartney Ravi Shankar Ringo Starr Roger McGuinn The Beach Boys The Byrds

  • S01E15 All Along the Watchtower (Sour Rock)

    • May 21, 1977

    The sixties began, according to Eric Burdon as “a party”. “The aim of all of us, Hendrix, The Who, The Stones” Burdon goes on, “was to ball every chick in sight”. Unfortunately, the party went sour. After the death of Epstein, the Beatles quarreled and split up. Jagger was arrested. Drugs became fashionable. The swinging sixties tore itself apart in an orgy of self-congratulation and self-indulgence. featuring Alexis Korner Bill Graham Bill Wyman Donovan Eric Burdon Frank Zappa Janis Joplin Jimi Hendrix John Lennon Manfred Mann Mick Jagger Paul McCartney Peter Rudge Pink Floyd The Doors The Rolling Stones The Who

  • S01E16 Whatever Gets You Through The Night (Glitter Rock)

    • May 28, 1977

    This Episode takes place almost entirely on stage; fans are always seen from the performer’s point of view. Thus, we begin to feel and experience first hand the pressures being put upon various individuals by the music industry. We are backstage with David Bowie as he makes himself up for a performance. We watch Alice Cooper ritualistically smashing up a doll, while the fans shriek for more and more. We are with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull as he prepares to face a screaming crowd. We watch Eric Clapton before drugs, during drugs and after drugs. We are on stage with Keith Emerson as he hurls his electric organ as the audience... featuring Alice Cooper Bob Marley and the Wailers Clive Davis Cream David Bowie Elton John Emerson, Lake and Palmer Eric Clapton Gary Glitter Helen Reddy Jethro Tull Keith Moon Kiss Labelle Lester Bangs Marie and Donny Osmond Roxy Music

  • S01E17 Imagine (New Directions)

    • June 1, 1977

    The film opens at a pop festival. Drug-smoking is very much in evidence. “These fellows will answer to God” says the Rev Jack Wyrtzen, “for all the pollution and evil they have spread around the world.” “The thing about rock n roll” says Lester Bangs, “is that it is totally about adolescence, and about consumerism brought in the highest degree”. In fact, as the film begins to point out, neither of these extreme points of view is true. Tangerine Dream perform religious music in Coventry Cathedral. Stomu Yamash’ta, a spectacular Japanese percussionist, clearly has nothing to do with adolescence: and no-one could describe Mike Oldfield as the product of consumerism.