DEAR JERRY: Over 45 years ago, a group of us teenagers saw “The T.A.M.I. Show” in a theater, though we could never have imagined what a great experience it turned out to be. Never before had a live concert film featured so many top acts.
Decades later, I bought a video of what I thought would be the same show we saw in 1964, but it was a huge disappointment. The quality was terrible, and the Beach Boys, one of the headliners, were missing.
Will the complete film ever be available?
—Dana Gibson, Waukegan, Ill
In an interview given at the time of its release, earlier this year, director Steve Binder provided the story behind the previously unexplained disappearance of the Beach Boys:
“The missing link in “The T.A.M.I. Show” has always been what happened to the Beach Boys. Now I will tell you what happened to the Beach Boys.
“When we did the movie, Murray Wilson, the father of Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, was the dictatorial manager of the group. He went to producer, Bill Sargent with a demand. I guess somebody told him that when Richard Burton did “Hamlet,” also with Sargent, that Burton's contract called for, once the first run theatrical release was completed, all the negatives or prints were to be destroyed.
“Fortunately, one print was found somewhere in later years, but to everyone's knowledge at the time there were no more prints of the “Hamlet” film. Reportedly, Burton, then married to Elizabeth Taylor, kept one in their garage.
“Murray told Sargent, as soon as “The T.A.M.I. Show” goes out into distribution — there were about 2,200 prints of the movie, I was told — he wanted the Beach Boys removed from the film and from the original print.
“Sargent by that time had lost the rights to the movie, so he really had nothing to say, but somebody made the decision to honor Murray's request to Sargent and took the Beach Boys out.
“There were tons of bootlegs, and I always asked whether or not the Beach Boys were in them, and they never were.
“Then, Quentin Tarantino (I think) gave his bootleg copy to a festival called Don't Knock the Rock, which played in 2006 at the ArcLight Theater on Sunset Boulevard [Los Angeles], to a standing room only audience — and the print was terrible.
“Murray had passed on by that time, but somebody told them we not only had no idea this was going to be a cult film but it was gonna cross over into the mainstream — and we'd like the Beach Boys put back in it.
“Sargent said he couldn't do it because he no longer owned the film.
“American International, famous for all those Frankie Avalon/Annette beach films and Vincent Price horror films, controlled the distribution and they didn't want to spend the money to put the Beach Boys back in. Yet, here they are and I am thrilled to death.
“Their's is just a phenomenal performance. It's amazing how their voices blend together, as well as the genius of Brian Wilson in putting the right arrangement together to get that sound.
“Here's a funny thing: It was from Dennis Wilson that I learned about the attraction to drummers from females. When I did the “T.A.M.I. Show,” I didn't know who the stars were, other than whoever was doing the lead on a particular vocal. But there was no question, the star [on stage] of the Beach Boys was not Brian or Carl Wilson. “Not Mike Love or Al Jardine. It was Dennis. The girls were going nuts over him sittin' up there playing his drums.”
Credit the Beach Boys themselves for getting their four-song segment restored for “The Collector's Edition T.A.M.I. Show.”
In 1964, their father demanded they be removed from the print. In 2010, the group asked that Murray's arrangement be set aside, and that they be rightfully included in the film. Their wish was granted.
For assistance with this piece, our gratitude is extended to Lauren Gaffney of Shout! Factory.
IZ ZAT SO? Surprisingly, “The T.A.M.I. Show” was a free concert. Tickets were distributed to local high schools, thus ensuring a full house of screaming teens.
This spectacular event took place at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, with concerts filmed on October 28 and 29, 1964. The critically acclaimed film opened two months later.
In order of appearance, here are the T.A.M.I. headliners: Chuck Berry; Gerry and the Pacemakers; Smokey Robinson and the Miracles; Marvin Gaye; Leslie Gore; Jan and Dean; the Beach Boys; Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas; Diana Ross and the Supremes; the Barbarians; James Brown; and the Rolling Stones. Everyone performed live. There was no lip-sync.
If you think the Barbarians are miscast in this otherwise star-studded package, you're right. They are the only act on the bill without a Top 50 hit to their credit.
Their inclusion came about simply because they were a group being promoted by Bill Sargent.
Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column.
Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368
Visit his Web site: www.jerryosborne.com
All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.
Copyright 2010 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission