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That Time Don Had A TV Show


A couple of weeks after I was released from the Air Force my friend Neil Thomas who had been a newsman at our competitor station in Bermuda, arranged for me to join him at KELP in El Paso, TX, where he was then working. So along with my partner Michael McKenzie, Donnie and Danny Dare descended on the unwary population of the City farthest west in Texas.

 

We had a good run there and a good time too, and then it was decided that the KELP disc-jockeys would do a fill-in summer show for Dick Clark's ABC Show, "Where The Action Is," on our sister ABC TV station located on the other side of the beautiful new building that came with a swimming pool. Great idea, but what would we do for a half hour? We brought in local bands, did puppets to a current hit, and other weak content.

 

Then one day the receptionist said, "Donnie, there's a man here to see you who says he was in a group with a hit record. Well, I don't remember his name, and don't care to look it up, but this kid came in wearing the Mod Fashion of the day, with the newly shorn hair of the new recruits at Fort Bliss down the road. Turns out that before being drafted, he had been the drummer for the group THE STANDELLS, an L.A. garage band who had a big hit with the song, DIRTY WATER.

 

I asked him if he'd like to appear on our TV Show and he said, sure. So, I asked if he could make our next show at 4:00 on Friday, and he said he thought he could get away, so when the big day came we had a drum kit set up, sat him on a stool behind it, and after promoting a special appearance by one of The Standells on our radio show during the week, put him on TV.

 

Basically, we played the record and he sat there and banged the drums, I asked him if he could lip-sync, and he said he'd done several Real TV shows already with the rest of the band. It took a minute for me to explain to the director that there were no more musicians, the drummer was it; and he shook his head and mumbled something obscene about disc-jockeys.

 

I'd like to report that it was a big success, but there were no comments either pro or con; and that led me to wonder if anyone was even watching. It was to be my only venture into television, although one day I would return to the medium making commercials but not on screen.

 

He said the name The Standells was based on the guys standing around their Booker's Offices waiting to get work. Fun Fact: "Dirty Water," was written about the Charles River in Boston, and today is still played after every Boston Red Sox and Bruin Win. So as not to mislead the TDR audience, I should add that this color clip of the whole band doing their signature song, was not the show I was talking about. @therealdonrocks

 

A version of this post originally appeared on The Don Rocks Facebook page. For more stories like these every day, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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