Shindig! Best Live Musical TV Program Ever!

By Gary:

This will be a total change from my usual musical posts. It will not be a large one but I will highlight what I think was the best Musical entertainment show ever to be on our TV Screens.  This is truly my (Gary’s) project as Russ never watched the program, so if you do not like the post it’s all on me.

“Shindig”  was the creation of Art Stolnitz, L.A. Disc Jockey, Jimmy O’Neill and his wife Sharon Sheeley. (Sheely wrote Poor Little Fool for Rick Nelson, was engaged to Rick and in the car with Eddie Cochran when Eddie was killed). Unfortunately Sharon left us on May 17,2002.  

Remember this TV program was all done live, no additions, electronics, video edits or enhancements that they use today, Just LIVE MUSIC, the way it should be.  There was not the equipment that they use today, but we were light years ahead of any of the “Stuff” produced today in terms of the quality of live music, enthusiasm, performance and sheer talent.  I know it seems that I do not recognize today’s talent; not true, but the majority of songs today require a video to be popular, and I thought music was for listening. 

Jimmy O’Neill with Donna Loren
Eddie Cochran with Sharon Sheeley


There are so many videos, so I picked some of the performances that I thought you would like to view. I know that I will not have everyone’s favourite, but I do try.  You will see artist’s that are no longer with us and the great one’s in their prime.  For me these performance’s are legendary, because the artist’s were in their prime and they had some of the best musician’s ever assembled on one program at one time.


Leon Russell with Shindogs /Roll Over Beethoven
The Supremes / Come See about Me
The Beach Boys / Dance Dance Dance
The Dave Clark 5 / Can’t you see that she’s mine
Ketty Lester / Love Letters
The Beatles / Kansas City & I’m a Loser
Roy Orbison


Tina Turner with Neil Sedaka on piano


The Righteous Brothers


What’d I say/Roy Orbison & the Everly Brothers


1965: (the big year)

Howlin’ Wolf / introduced by the Rolling Stones
Roy Head / Treat Her Right
The Rolling Stones / Satisfaction
The Gentrys / Keep on Dancin’ 
The Kingsmen / Louie Louie
The Ronettes / Be My Baby
Jerry Lee Lewis
Sonny and Cher



Roy Orbison & The Everly Brothers / What’d I Say
The Olympics / Good Lovin’ / Billy Preston on organ
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles / You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me
Booker T & the MG’s / Green Onions
A retrospective VH1


For me the key to the show was it was “Live” with some of the best musicians of the day. Now the show was short lived (due to poor networking), but in September of 1964, the first 1/2 hour episode was on the air. Now here is just a little peek at who the backup musicians where.

The Shindogs:

James Burton, Glen Campbell, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Larry Knechtel, Chuck Blackwell, Glen Hardin and the list goes on. The shows musical director was Ray Phohlman who was a member of the famous studio recording musicians, “The Wrecking Crew“. So when ever he needed them they could be there.


Bobby Sherman, Donna Loren, Jackie DeShannon. The Righteous Brother appeared many times. The Back up singers “The Blossoms” featured Darlene Love and the Male Singers where the Wellingtons.

The show started as a half hour show, then went to an hour January 1965, split to two half hour segments in the fall of 1965 and was cancelled January 1966.

It was short lived; the network did not know how to handle it and really screwed it up. It was imitated twice on two other networks, but never the quality of Shindig.

To me the demise was when ABC started bringing people like Zsa Zsa Gabor, who did not know or like the music, for that ABC deserved to be last, they took one the most innovative shows, and they owned it and destroyed it in two years, but what a ride.

Musical guests

  • The Animals
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Desi Arnaz, Jr.
  • Zane Ashton
  • Long John Baldry
  • The Barron Knights
  • Fontella Bass
  • Shirley Bassey
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Beatles
  • James Brown
  • The Byrds
  • The Beau Brummels
  • Tony Bennett
  • Chuck Berry
  • Cilla Black
  • Booker T & the MG’s
  • Glen Campbell
  • Freddy Cannon
  • Johnny Cash
  • Chad and Jeremy
  • Chubby Checker
  • The Coasters
  • Petula Clark
  • Sam Cooke
  • The Dave Clark Five
  • The Spencer Davis Group
  • Jackie DeShannon
  • Dick and Dee Dee
  • Dino, Desi & Billy
  • Bo Diddley
  • The Dixie Cups
  • Donovan
  • The Everly Brothers
  • Shelley Fabares
  • Adam Faith
  • Marianne Faithfull
  • The Four Tops
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Freddie and the Dreamers
  • Billy Fury
  • Gale Garnett
  • Gary Lewis & the Playboys
  • Marvin Gaye
  • The Gentrys
  • Gerry & the Pacemakers
  • Stan Getz
  • Dizzy Gillespie
  • Dobie Gray
  • Bessie Griffin
  • Bobby Goldsboro
  • Lesley Gore
  • The Grass Roots
  • Françoise Hardy
  • Herman’s Hermits
  • The Hollies
  • Don Ho
  • The Honeycombs
  • The Ikettes
  • The Isley Brothers
  • Davy Jones
  • Gloria Jones
  • The Kingsmen
  • The Kinks
  • Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas
  • Bettye LaVette
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Little Anthony and the Imperials
  • Little Eva
  • Major Lance
  • Donna Loren
  • Darlene Love
  • The Lovin’ Spoonful
  • Lulu & the Luvvers
  • The Mamas & the Papas
  • Manfred Mann
  • The Marvelettes
  • Johnny Mathis
  • Jody Miller
  • Millie
  • Sal Mineo
  • Matt Monro
  • The Moody Blues
  • The Nashville Teens
  • Ricky Nelson
  • Roy Orbison
  • Rita Pavone
  • Peter and Gordon
  • Gene Pitney
  • The Poets
  • Billy Preston
  • The Pretty Things
  • Eddie Rambeau
  • The Righteous Brothers
  • Roy Head
  • Johnny Rivers
  • Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
  • Jimmie Rodgers
  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Ronettes
  • Bobby Rydell
  • Tommy Sands
  • Neil Sedaka
  • Del Shannon
  • Dee Dee Sharp
  • Sandie Shaw
  • The Shangri-Las
  • Bobby Sherman
  • Sir Douglas Quintet
  • Sonny & Cher
  • Rod StewartBrian Auger and the Trinity)
  • The Supremes
  • The Temptations
  • Joe Tex
  • Tommy Tucker
  • Ike & Tina Turner
  • The Turtles
  • Twinkle
  • Unit 4 + 2
  • Bobby Vee
  • The Ventures
  • The Vibrations
  • The Walker Brothers
  • We Five
  • Clara Ward Singers
  • Mary Wells
  • The Who
  • Hank Williams, Jr.
  • Jackie Wilson
  • Howlin’ Wolf
  • The Yardbirds
  • The Zombies
  • Leroy Van Dyke
  • Mickey Rooney, Jr.
  • Melinda Marx

8 responses to “Shindig! Best Live Musical TV Program Ever!

  1. Marilyn Stuart

    Gary, you are spot on with your comments about Shindig. What a great show for those of us who loved the music and loved to see it performed live. I was so sorry to see it leave the air. This is one of my favorite posts and I’ll revisit it again and again. Seeing and hearing the artists brings back a lot of great memories of wonderful times in my life that were happening when that music was happening.
    The video of Rick Nelson singing “I Catch Myself Crying” is one I keep in my video library and replay often. It was written by Roger Miller and covered by different artists but no one sung it better than Rick. It’s so good to see the great James Burton on that one too.
    James Brown! Did anyone ever dance like that while singing? Jerry Lee Lewis when he was Jerry Lee was fantastic. How can I pick a favorite? They were all so good and I don’t think we realized it at the time. We took the times and the music for granted and it will never come again except through posts like this.

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  3. Not everything was live as evidenced by your first youtube clip. The Beatles are singing to a track and only some of John’s harmonica in I’m a Loser is live.

    • Carla: I’m sorry but I do not share your view on this one. The audio may be out of sync, but that happens with 45 year old videos. It certainly is not the studio recording, because that is very different and I would be pleased to send it to you. Shindig had the best musicians of the day and their pride was that they were “Live”. Now to say that it never happened, well that I just do not know, but my belief is that the Beatles “Kansas City” is live, it is very different from the studio recording.

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  5. Mike Harrison

    Most (not all) of the band tracks were in fact pre-recorded. They were *not* the bed tracks from the hit records themselves but backing tracks recorded before the show by the studio band.There were exceptions, but that was the norm. The vocals themselves were always live to tape.


    Gary: The good OLD DAYS will never be the same ED Sullivan and STEVE ALLEN gave a lot of these groups great exposure before they did live concerts at big areas. Keep up the videos that we love to watch and enjoy that what made AMERICA famous the right to have fun and live freely.



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