Category Archives: Video

Town Hall Party!

Gary: “Previously I did a post on all the great studio musicians: Session Musicians / A-Team / Funk Brothers / Wrecking Crew / Swampers and I also looked at my live TV Music Show:  Shindig! Best Live Musical TV Program Ever! But tonight I am going way back to black and white television in it’s infancy and I will talk about a show that I never did see, so please just humour me, I do this sometimes. 

Artists included in this post:

It was 1951, the place was Compton California and the show would have variations on names but the main one for me was “Town Hall Party”.  This was a pure Country and Western show (of which I know very little) and it lasted until 1960. 

It started as a Radio Show, but parts of it in the mid to late 50’s where filmed for the armed services in half hour segments. 

OK, so here is where I’m going with this.  Some of the greatest “Rock and Roll” stars appeared on the show and where filmed.  The old kinescope recordings are not fantastic, but they are pure and rare.  These old films or kinescope recordings are really at the beginning of the Rock and Roll Journey.

Town Hall Party-1950’s
Tex Ritter, Jimmy Pruitt, Freddie Hart, Billy Hill, Merle Travis, Shirley Adams, Mary Lou, Fiddilin’ Kate, Buddy Dooley, Marilyn Tuttle, Bobby Charles, Texas Tiny, Wesley Tuttle, Laurie Collins, Ray Kline, Rosalee Maphis, Rose Lee Maphis, Larry Collins, Quincy Snodgrass, Joe Maphis, Skeets MacDonald, Jay Stewart, Johnny Bond, Marian Hall, PeeWee Adams, Mary Jane Johnson, Les “Carrot Top” Anderson, Jenks (Tex ) Carman

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Town Hall Party was the most popular country and western variety music show in Southern California during the 1950’s.

Broadcast from a theater in the Compton suburb of Los Angeles that was converted to look like a barn, it began in 1951 as a radio barn dance on KFI radio in Compton, becoming a television show in 1953, when KFI started feeding the one-hour show to the NBC Network.

Later, Armed Forces Television filmed it for overseas showing. Thirty-nine half-hour versions were filmed by Screen Gems for syndication showings around the world and these continued for several years after the show ended in 1961.

Many country stars whose careers blossomed in the 1960’s were featured on the show, such as Buck Owens, Lefty Frizzell, and Johnny Cash. Later episodes of the show also featured such rock n’ roll luminaries as Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.

Performers

  • PeeWee Adams
  • Dick D’Agostin
  • Les “Carrot-Top” Anderson
  • Johnny Bond
  • Martha Carson
  • Tex Jenks Carman
  • Johnny Cash
  • Jim Reeves
  • Bobby Charles
  • Patsy Cline
  • Eddie Cochran
  • Alvis Coker
  • Shirley Collie
  • The Collins Kids
  • Cliff Crofford
  • Ted Daffan
  • Eddie Dean
  • Tommy Duncan
  • Fiddlin’ Kate
  • Lefty Frizzell
  • Marian Hall
  • Freddie Hart
  • Bobby Helms
  • Cousin Herb Henson
  • Dick Dale
  • Billy Hill
  • Wanda Jackson
  • Myrna Jay
  • Mary Jane Johnson
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Skeets McDonald
  • Joe Maphis
  • Rose Lee Maphis
  • Billy Mize
  • Mary Lou Nell
  • Carl Perkins
  • Wayne Raney
  • Rangers Quartet
  • Tex Ritter
  • Marty Robbins
  • Tommy Sands
  • Bonnie Sloan
  • Tom Tall
  • Gordon Terry
  • Merle Travis
  • Marilyn Tuttle
  • Wesley Tuttle
  • Gene Vincent (Oct. 58, July 59, Nov. 59)
  • Slim Willet
  • Mac Wiseman
  • Dortha Wright

I have searched long and hard for these, so I hope you enjoy them.  These are extremely rare videos of the early Rock and Rollers live on “Town Party”.   Yes, I am aware that the sound and visual aspects are not up to today’s digital standards, but please remember that some of them are 55 years old.

Carl Perkins:  
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Matchbox/ 1956 /
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Blue Suede Shoes /
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True Love / 1957 /
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See also our post on Carl Perkins

Bob Luman, long before “Let’s think about Living”

Shake Rattle and Roll / 1958 / (no big speakers, just honest music)
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Reddy Teddy / 1958 / (Wild)   That’s what Rock and Roll was all about.
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See also our post on Bob Luman

Johnny Cash: 
 
I walk the Line / 1957 /
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Get Rhythm / 1958 /
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Folsom Prison Blues / 1959 /
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See also our post on Johnny Cash

Gene Vincent: 
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Roll Over Beathoven / 1959 /
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Dance to the Bop / 1958 /
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Rip it Up / 1958 /
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Be-Bop-A-Lula / 1958 /
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See also our post on Gene Vincent

Wanda Jackson: 
 
Hard Headed Women / 1958 /
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Rock Your Baby/ 1958 /
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See also our post on Wanda Jackson

The Collins Kids: 

 
High School Confidential / 1958 /
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That’ll Be the Day/ 1957 /
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Hot Rod / 1958 /
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See also our post on The Collins Kids

Eddie Cochran: 

 
C’mon Everybody / 1959 /
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Summertime Blues / 1958 /
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School Day / 1959 /
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Don’t Blame in on Me / February 7th / 59 / This was only four days after we lost /Buddy / Ritchie & JP Richardson /
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See also our post on Eddie Cochran

Patsy Cline: 

 
Walking After Midnight /
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See also our post on Patsy Cline

Bobby Helms   Long before Jingle Bell Rock

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Long Gone Daddy / 1957 / Joe Maphis on guitar /

The Early Guitar Pickers / Joe Maphis / Larry Collins / Merle Travis

Wildwood Flower /
Larry Collins & Joe Maphis / Ramrod /
–o–