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Transmission and Transgression

The History of Rock 'n' Roll on Television

by Gary Kenton (Author)
Textbook XII, 344 Pages
Series: Visual Communication , Volume 9

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Section I: Historical Context
  • Chapter One: The Music and the Audience
  • Chapter Two: Rockaphobia
  • Chapter Three: The Mediums and the Messages
  • Chapter Four: Technologies
  • Chapter Five: Reception and Perception
  • Section II: Rock Music on Television as a Minority Portrayal
  • Chapter Six: The Non-Recognition Era
  • Chapter Seven: The Ridicule Era
  • Chapter Eight: The Regulation Era, Part 1
  • Chapter Nine: The Regulation Era, Part 2
  • Chapter Ten: The Regulation Era, Part 3
  • Chapter Eleven: The Respect Era, Part 1
  • Chapter Twelve: The Respect Era, Part 2
  • Chapter Thirteen: The Respect Era, Part 3
  • Chapter Fourteen: Conclusion
  • Appendix of TV Shows Featuring Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Videography
  • Selected Discography
  • Index

Gary Kenton

Transmission and Transgression

The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll on Television

About the author

Gary Kenton began his career as a rock journalist with Fusion and Creem magazines. He subsequently worked in public relations for Warner Bros., Island, and CBS Records, and would later teach students with disabilities. After receiving a master’s degree from Fordham University, he has taught communications at several universities. Some of his recent publications include “Insolent Networks: The Auto-Mated Social Life” in Confronting Technopoly and “‘Come See About Me’: Why the Baby Boomers Liked Stax but Loved Motown” in Baby Boomers and Popular Culture.

About the book

When MTV (Music Television channel) was established in 1981, an executive claimed that they had “integrated the most powerful forces in our two decades, TV and rock ‘n’ roll.” In fact, this problematic relationship began in the mid-1950s, when the advent of rock ‘n’ roll represented a musical and cultural revolution. The backlash against the music and the youth culture from which it emanated, described here as “rockaphobia,” was reflected in a process of adulteration, racism, and co-optation by television programmers, spearheaded by American Bandstand. This interplay between rock ‘n’ roll and television played a significant role in alienating baby boomers from the mainstream, motivating them to create their own countercultural identity. This social migration helped to delineate the boundaries that would be identified in the 1960s as the generation gap.

Transmission and Transgression uses an interdisciplinary approach informed by media ecology, the theoretical framework which recognizes that each communication technology, or medium, creates its own unique environment, independent of content. This analysis allows the author to identify inherent technological and sensory incompatibilities between the medium of television and the cultural practice of rock ‘n’ roll, and to place these tensions within the broader shift of physiological emphasis from the traditional, tribal world dominated by the ear to the modern world which privileges the eye. Even in its remediated, diluted form, rock music has occupied a significant niche on television, and this book is the most comprehensive summary, celebration, and analysis of that history.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

chapter

Illustrations

Figure I.1: Neil Postman, one of the fathers of Media Ecology.

Figure 1.1: Marlon Brando, as an endearing delinquent in the 1953 film The Wild One.

Figure 1.2: Bill Haley and His Comets still rocking around the clock in 1960.

Figure 2.1: The Treniers in Dont Knock the Rock. They were frequently on TV in the pre-rock era, but were not perceived as a threat.

Figure 2.2: Don Cornelius with Curtis Mayfield in the early Chicago days on Soul Train. Cornelius made Black Americans visible on television.

Figure 3.1: The 1950s American family gets programmed.

Figure 3.2: “Professor” Chuck Berry sings “School Days” on American Bandstand.

Figure 4.1: The music goes round and round and comes out here: The Regency, “the world’s first pocket radio.”

Figure 4.2: Les Paul trades riffs with his wife Mary Ford on The Colgate Comedy Hour.

Figure 5.1: On TV, the eye wins the sensory battle between sight and sound.

Figure 5.2: Marshall McLuhan tries to explain Media Ecology to Tom Snyder on The Tomorrow Show.←ix | x→

Figure 6.1: Carl Perkins and Perry Como—two nice guys on The Perry Como Show.

Figure 6.2: Johnny Otis, the great impresario of Los Angeles rhythm ‘n’ blues.

Figure 7.1: Elvis Presley on The Steve Allen Show. Putting Elvis in a tuxedo wasn’t enough; he had to sing to a basset hound.

Figure 7.2: Dewey Phillips and Harry Fritzius: for a short time in 1957, rock was alive on WHBQ-TV in Memphis.

Figure 8.1: Bo Diddley on The Ed Sullivan Show as part of 1955 Dr. Jive Revue special.

Figure 8.2: Ed Sullivan certifies that Elvis Presley is “a real decent, fine boy.”

Figure 9.1: Dick Clark: Selling chewing gum and rock ‘n’ roll to a nation.

Figure 9.2: The Archies, Don Kirshner’s cartoon rockers—more pliable than humans.

Figure 10.1: Chubby Checker doing the twist in Its Trad, Dad, Richard Lester’s first feature film.

Figure 10.2: Ray Davies of The Kinks on Beat Room—every day he looks at the world through his window.

Figure 11.1: Jack Good sporting his British bowler in 1964 on Shindig! (ABC 1964–66): no one ever treated rock ‘n’ roll on TV with more respect.

Figure 11.2: White teens get their first dose of James Brown on The T.A.M.I. Show.

Figure 11.3: The Beatles are attentive on their fourth appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Figure 12.1: The Supremes as singing nuns on Tarzan telling the locals that “the Lord helps those that help themselves.”

Figure 12.2: Chuck Berry on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Figure 12.3: The Monkees were made for TV.

Figure 13.1: Keyboard royalty: Little Richard, Count Basie, Ray Charles, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Little Richard turns the Grammy Awards into a tent revival.

Figure 13.2: Michael Jackson in all innocence on the MTV Video Music Awards.

Figure 14.1: Frank Zappa: “I hate to see anyone with a closed mind on any topic.”←x | xi→

chapter

Acknowledgments

Heartfelt thanks to friends and mentors: Stephen Mantin (and clan), Anneke Corbett, The Mad Peck (a.k.a. Dr. Oldie, the Dean of the University of Musical Perversity); I. C. Lotz (a.k.a. Vicky Hollmann), Sol Jacobs, Thomas Berry, Steve Sumerford & Evelyn Smith, Bill Adler & Sarah Moulton, Larry & Claire Morse, Marnie Thompson & Stephen Johnson, Ken & Mary Alice Knight, John & Robin Davis, Nick Divitci, Terry Austin, David Marc, Ben Gerson, Ken Emerson, Robert A. Hull, Lenny Kaye, Earl Kirmser, Roswell & Holly Sue Angier, John Clayton & Sharon Dunn, Robert Somma, Andy Schwartz, Chris Capece, David Unger, Paul Mills, Tom Miller, Harry Duncan, David Smyth, Alan Betrock, Charlie Gillett, Danny Schechter, Nick Tosches, Molly Mullin, and Tim Jurgens. I want to single out Richard Meltzer, who bro\oes to Simon Frith, the first scholar to pay close attention to the interplay of rock ‘n’ roll and television.

Details

Pages
XII, 344
ISBN (PDF)
9781433153105
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433153112
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433153129
ISBN (Book)
9781433153044
Language
English
Publication date
2020 (March)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XII, 344 pp., 30 b/w ill., 1 table

Biographical notes

Gary Kenton (Author)

Gary Kenton began his career as a rock journalist with Fusion and Creem magazines. He subsequently worked in public relations for Warner Bros., Island, and CBS Records, and would later teach students with disabilities. After receiving a master’s degree from Fordham University, he has taught communications at several universities. Some of his recent publications include "Insolent Networks: The Auto-Mated Social Life" in Confronting Technopoly and "‘Come See About Me’: Why the Baby Boomers Liked Stax but Loved Motown" in Baby Boomers and Popular Culture.

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