Thursday, December 23, 2010

TRIVIA: REVISING AMERICAN GRAFFITI

Looking through the coupe's window, Lucas checks in on Mackenzie Phillips.
 
LUCAS SKYWASHER
(Portions of this text originally appeared in an Oct. 2, 1998 article in 
Entertainment Weekly by Steve Daly.)
 
A revisionist ethos motivated George Lucas to spruce up the Star Wars "special editions" released in 1997. And, according to spokesperson Lynne Hale, when Lucas first learned that Universal Studios Home Video was going to be issuing a 25th-anniversary edition of American Graffiti, he got the urge to airbrush the past again. "That opening shot always really bugged him," Hale said with indignation.

Glance at earlier video editions of Graffiti ('cause everybody still owns a VCR, right?) and you'll see why. The credits unfold over a grainy photo of Mel's Drive-In, a compromise required after a camera malfunction prevented a better shot. Production notes reveal that while filming at Mels Drive-in on 7/17/72, Lucas' favorite Eclaire camera fell off the tripod and was badly damaged.  As a result, the sky is washedout, making it hard to tell that the time of day is sunset--a detail crucial to establishing the movie's dusk-to-dawn time frame. 

  
     GRAFFITI  ARTISTRY 
A sunset added to the first shot makes a rosier picture


 For the 1998 tape, laserdisc, and DVD editions, Lucas had his special-effects experts at Industrial Light & Magic execute a "sky replacement." Out went the drab pale blue, along with a building in the background (to help disguise the fact that it was filmed in the metropolis, San Francisco); in went a gorgeously glowing vista--a still photo enhanced
via computer.

4-song soundtrack sampler included with 25th-anniversary VHS edition
This was not the first time the writer/director had altered the film.  In 1978 when many of its then-unknown stars became famous, the studio planned to distribute the film for theatrical re-release. Learning this Lucas and crew set about making changes which were going to add to the overall experience of the film. It was re-edited, three scenes were added and the soundtrack was re-mixed in Dolby Stereo.  In addition, the date of John Milner's death was changed from June 1964 to December 1964 in the post-script.  Purists might complain, but Lucas himself says, "My feeling is, an artist is allowed to work on his projects until such time as he dies."  The DVD was released in the original wide-screen format but if you wanted the 25th-Anniversary, VHS edition you had a choice of widescreen or the miserable pan-and-scan format.  Each sold separately..   Also new to the DVD at the time was the incredible 78-minute making-of documentary with reminiscences by Lucas, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, Ron Howard, and the rest of the cast.  For the VHS release the documentary was cut to 10 minutes.  For all its downfalls, the VHS packaging was kinda cool 'cause it came with a funny-shaped 4-song promo disc, not available elsewhere.  

 I think the revised shot is an improvement. The hell with purity; it is a welcome grace note to Lucas' cinematic masterpiece. Now leave it alone, George!   I wonder if there will be any surprises for the Blu-ray edition?  The 3-hour director's cut, perhaps?  Well, one can dream can't he?

My absolute favorite American Graffiti photo.

__________________________________________________________________________

NOTES:

•    Alternate versions of American Graffiti.  Internet Movie Database.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069704/alternateversions.  Retrieved 12/26/2010.
•    American Graffiti, Collector’s Edition. [DVD] (1973, 1998). High School Reunion Collection.  Universal Studios.
•    American Graffiti [VHS] (1973, 1998). Universal Studios.
•    Daly, Steve. (1998). Entertainment Weekly. Issue 452, p77.
•    Hearn, Marcus.  (2005).  The Cinema of George Lucas. Harry N. Abrams. 




Wednesday, December 22, 2010

THE MOD SQUAD BUST A PHARAOH (1969)




Before their appearance in American Graffiti many of the cast made guest appearances on popular TV shows.  A young, Bo Hopkins was one such person. The same year that he was featured in the Sam Peckinpah landmark western, THE WILD BUNCH, Bo Hopkins appeared in a first season episode of THE MOD SQUAD.  Originally broadcast on April 15, 1969, the episode was called, A SEAT BY THE WINDOW and featured 26-yr-old Bo as an unbalanced bus rider named Tom.

BACKGROUND: The year was 1969, the Age of Aquarius.  Short hair was out, long hair was in.  The world was a different place.  Nothing could contrast more with the kids in AMERICAN GRAFFITI than the hip young people portrayed in the MOD SQUAD TV series.  THE MOD SQUAD were three young outcasts (Michael Cole as Pete,
Clarence Williams III as Linc and Peggy Lipton as Julie), who had a run-in with the law.  All three were on probation when they were recruited by the police to form a special 'youth squad' to infiltrate the counter-culture crime world as undercover cops. Created and co-produced by the legendary TV mogul Aaron Spelling, the show had real street cred with three hip cops who walked the walk and talked the talk, "Groovy, brother," they didn't pack heat or bust their own. Each week the three of them, wearing love beads, would expose criminals who preyed upon youth. The series featured relevant themes such as narcotics, gangs, slum lords, and racists. Originally broadcast on Tuesday nights at 7:30, the show was a hit among young people and it received numerous Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations during its five season run (1968-73). If you want to learn more about this groovy show then you'll have to check out this webpage:


 The original TV GUIDE synopsis of the episode featuring Bo, A SEAT BY THE WINDOW brilliantly described the plot, "The squad splits up to hunt a knife-wielding killer who boarded one of three buses loaded with vacationing passengers. The only lead: the man they're hunting may be a blond."






A SEAT BY THE WINDOW
1.  At first Tom (Bo Hopkins) seems like just another one of the hippies on the bus wearing a vertically striped shirt, an Eisenhower jacket and strumming the guitar.   
 
2. The bus stops for lunch and Tom and Julie meet.
 

3. Unbeknownst to Julie, she is talking to the  infamous, "Bus Killer." Although he's obviously a few fries short of a McDonald's Happy Meal, he seems like a sweet guy with a Southern drawl
4. Looking admiringly at Julie, Tom uses his best pickup line telling her, "You know your some kinda girl: Pretty… and smart."
 




 5. Conflict arises when Tom tries to get gorgeous Julie alone so he can show her his hot buttered, deep fried, surprise. 












6. Julie thanks him but explains she brought a bag lunch.  When she tries to walk away Tom brandishes a knife and threatens her.






7. When Mike & Link arrive to save the damsel in distress, Tom holds Julie close & warns them to stay away or he will slice her neck
 

8.  Fortunately, when Tom is momentarily distracted by Links' cool Afro they are able to pull him off of Julie.  Although he is a killer, they realize he is mentally incompetent so they are gentle with him and will get him the help he needs.  Proving once again; the MOD SQUAD are truly the grooviest gang of fuzz who ever wore a badge.

-  TODAY  -

Four years after his role on The Mod Squad, the good-ol-boy, Bo Hopkins got the role of a lifetime (can you tell I'm biased) when he appeared in American Graffiti as Joe The Pharaoh.
He has had numerous recurring roles on TV shows such as "The Rockford Files" (!978-79), and"Dynasty" (1981-87) and is still in the business today.  He occasionally appears at car shows and other American Graffiti related Events.  If you'd like to keep up with Bo and find out where he is and where he'll be check out:  BOHOPKINS.NET .

Bo at the Annual Friends of El Faro Benefit Gala 9'24/2009.

Today Peggy Lipton is still acting and still an extremely attractive woman. She has had countless roles on both TV and film including "Twin Peaks" (1992) "Crash," (1999) and the recent romantic comedy, "When in Rome."  She has 2 daughters, from her marriage to Music Producer, Quincy Jones, who are both actors; Kidada Jones and Rashida Jones.  In 2005, Lipton published her memoir titled, "Breathing Out, " in which she disclosed she had a tryst with Beatle, Paul McCartney before she landed the role as Julie on The Mod Squad.

Peggy Lipton at the Gracie Awards Gala in Beverly Hills, CA 5/25/2010.



- FIN -


______________________________________________________________________

NOTES:

-Biography for Bo Hopkins.  Internet Movie Database.  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005019/  Retrieved 12/20/2010.
-Biography for Peggy Lipton. Internet  Movie Database.  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005152/bio.  Retrieved 12/22/2010.
-The Mod Squad DVD Season 1. (1969, 2007).  Paramount Home Entertainment. 
-The Mod Squad Unofficial Homepage.  http://www.chezgrae.com/modsquad/  Retrieved 12/20/2010.





Sunday, December 19, 2010

THE CONVERSATION (1974)

After the release of THE GODFATHER (1972) and before its sequel, THE GODFATHER Pt. II (1974) director Francis Ford Coppola managed to work on a small scale, San Francisco based film about privacy called THE CONVERSATION (1974).  Along with the fabulous, Gene Hackman, who plays a reclusive surveillance expert, the film stars Cindy Williams and several other AMERICAN GRAFFITI alumni including; Harrison Ford, Albert Nalbandian, and George Meyer.  In addition, GRAFFITI sound designer, Walter Murch served as the supervising editor and sound designer and GRAFFITI Visual Consultant, Haskell Wexler participated in filming the first complex shots at the beginning of THE CONVERSATION. Jim Bloom who was a production associate for Graffiti, acted as technical adviser and Administrative Assistant for the film.


Harry Caul is hired to record the conversation of a couple (Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest) as they walk through crowded Union Square in San Francisco.


Caul now has a sound recording of the beautiful Cindy Williams uttering the phrase, "He'd kill us if he got the chance"  Although the words are crystal clear, their meaning is not.





Who could forget the drunk (George Meyer) in AMERICAN GRAFFITI who steals Toad's money to buy wine?  Not me. For THE CONVERSATION, he took a shower, shit, & shaved, and donned a plaid suit and started selling surveillance products at trade shows.





Salesman (George Meyer) tries to sell Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) the latest top of the line, high tech spy equipment.


In AMERICAN GRAFFITI  he was the hardy hand-shaking Hank who nominated Curt for the Moose Lodge Scholarship.  In THE CONVERSATION character actor, Albert Nalbandian, is a hilarious, obnoxious, salesman at the surveillance convention promoting the new LT 500.  Incidentally, Nalbandian has owned and operated a flower stand for more than 60 years in the Union Square area where the first scenes of THE CONVERSATION were filmed.


Harry Caul has become increasingly paranoid over the significance and meaning of the conversation he recorded and suspects that the couple he has been spying on will be murdered. Caul has a crisis of conscience and avoids handing in the tape to the aide (Harrison Ford) of the man who commissioned the surveillance (Robert Duvall)



Legend has it that Harrison Ford wore a cowboy hat in AMERICAN GRAFFITI in order to hide his long hair. Apparently, he didn't want to cut his hair for the film because he thought a 60's style haircut would decrease his chances of getting work in other movies.  Despite the studio friendly length of his hair, THE CONVERSATION did little to advance his career. Ford would not appear in another feature film unitl a little thing in 1977 called STAR WARS.


Caul's investigation leads him to a hotel where he believes the murder is about to take place.  Can he prevent it?  Will he make it in time to save the beautiful Cindy Williams???   What will happen???

Thursday, December 9, 2010

SIDE 1 AMERICAN GRAFFITI SOUNDTRACK

Cover airbrush artwork by David Willardson


The soundtrack has a special importance.  A nonstop stream of fifties music, punctuated with fragments of a disc jockey's crazy free-form monologue, accompanies all the action.  The radio is these kids' lifeline, and by keeping it in the background of almost every scene, Lucas mesmerizes us right along with the characters.  The music releases our own memories, and gives an emotional charge to everything on screen
-Stephen Farber, Time Magazine

In May of 2008 George Lucas's sister, Wendy Lucas was a featured speaker at a hometown celebration at the State Theater in Modesto, CA.  In her speech she attributed a large part of the success of American Graffiti to the music. "[George] knew," she said, "that rock and roll  songs would take the audience back to the moments in their lives when they first heard them.  Not everyone grew up in Modesto but  everyone heard those songs and listened to the same music."  The music helped give the film a universal appeal.

When writing the script for American Graffiti, Lucas actually listened to specific 45 rpm records that he and Wendy had purchased at the local music store in Modesto called Harleys.  He used the music for inspiration and then would write that song into the storyline. (For more on the script see our WRITING GRAFFITI page). The result of writing songs into the script is a film with a soundtrack that humorously alludes to the action in the film.  For example, Frankie Lymon's "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" plays on the car radio when Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) first glimpses the blond in the white T-bird.  And later on in the film, Fat's Dominoes', "Ain't That a Shame" accompanies another glimpse of the blond, however, this time the music underscores the fact that Curt is stuck in a car with gang members.

Before the release of American Graffiti many of the songs on the soundtrack had long been forgotten and past the point of generating any income through sales. When Lucas was going to secure the rights to these songs, many times nobody knew who the owner's of the songs were. The 1950s was a period where there wasn't much organization in the rock and roll music business and consequently finding a particular song would often lead them to somebodies garage some place where the master recording was kept in a dusty unlabeled shoebox. Once all the footwork had been done, the price to secure the rights to the music in the film cost approximately  $70,000.  The low-production budget prevented them from using some of their first choices.  For example, they could not use any songs by Elvis because the cost of procuring the rights was too expensive.  Other tunes such as "Its Just a Matter of Time" by Brook Benton, "In the Still of the Night" by the Five Satins and Peggy Lees' version of "Fever" were removed from the script.  As a result an original list of songs picked for the film was whittled down to 42.

Many times when a song was too expensive or not available Lucas and Walter Murch (Sound Designer) would simply replace it with a different song.  In 1974 Lucas told Film Quarterly, "[The] amazing thing we found was that we could take almost any song and put it on almost any scene and it would work.  You'd put a song down on one scene, and you'd find all kinds of parallels.  And, he explained, you could take another song and put it down there, and it would still seem as if the song had been written for that scene.  All good rock and roll is classic teenage stuff, and all the scenes were such classic teenage scenes that they just sort of meshed, no matter how you threw them together.  Sometimes even the words were identical.


George Lucas told National Public Radio (NPR) in early 2010 that the total budget for the film was $700,000.  He spent approximately 10% of the budget for the rights to the songs. At the time, the studios were not happy about that.  They had never heard of anyone doing that before.  They told him he was making a big mistake and that he needed to score the film.  They couldn't have been more wrong.  Considering the subsequent popularity of the music generated through box office sales, the $70,000. price tag  for securing the rights  was relatively cheap.  If executives had any faith in how popular and lucrative the film would be in just one year they would have purchased the rights to these recordings before its release.  Lucas explained, “At the time we said, look, for another $5,000 per song we can get you the record rights to this. And they said no, no, no, no, we don't want any record rights. We don't want anything.”  A year later, after witnessing the popularity of the film, executives wanted to release the soundtrack on a double album and they wound up paying over a million dollars for those same songs.

 Writers such as Jeff Smith have noted that the success of American Graffiti made it one of the dominant models for using popular music in films.  Smith notes that it's use of pop records both as a subtext reference and as a source of authorial commentary would influence several directors and screenwriters who subsequently adopted Lucas technique of writing songs directly into the script.  More importantly, Smith adds, Graffiti also presaged the growing influence that economic and industrial factors would have on developing film scores.

Let's explore now, the history of the individual songs as well as some of the more clever usage of music in American Graffiti.


_______________________________________________________________________

SIDE 1 of 4, (Record 1)

Bill Haley & The Comets
(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock: 
Bill Haley and His Comets (2:08)
The Bill Haley tune is the perfect song to start AMERICAN GRAFFITI as it immediately establishes the time period and sets the energy level for the incredibly classic film. As ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK  plays on the soundtrack, the friends arrive with their cars and Vespa at Mel’s Drive-In. They will soon depart for their separate, yet occasionally intersecting, adventures during the night, only to meet again the next morning (after time has truly moved “around the clock”).  The song's record chart history began In 1954, when Bill Haley & the Comets first released ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK (which had originally been recorded in 1952 by Sunny Dae), it received very little attention. However, the tune got a second chance at popularity by being chosen for the soundtrack to "THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE," a 1955 movie about high-school delinquency.  The film generated controversy in the press and pandemonium among the young, which in turn helped ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK became an anthem for rebellious Fifties youth.  Sometimes referred to as the first rock & roll song, ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK has everything a good rock song should have including a catchy beat, infectious lyrics, and a smoking guitar solo.  Mastering the blistering solo provided by Donny Cedrone on his Gibson ES 300 is still a rights of passage for guitar students today. Thanks to the popularity of the film, ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK became synonymous with the '50s nostalgia craze.  The song charted anew in the Top 40 during 1974 when it turned up as the theme music for the hit television series HAPPY DAYS during its first season.

Sixteen Candles: The Crests (2:48)
When The Crest's released their single, BESIDE YOU in 1958 they had no idea that the flip side, 16 CANDLES would be more popular.  At its peak, the single was selling 25,000 copies a day and quickly becoming one of the most popular birthday songs. 16 CANDLES was originally called "21 candles" by its authors, Luther Dixon and Allyson Khent. Upon learning that the average age of record buyers was much younger, 5 candles were pulled from the birthday cake.  Johnny Maestro's (b. May 7, 1939) warm tenor made 16 CANDLES a national smash, and pop/R&B hybrids like THE ANGELS LISTENED IN and STEP BY STEP also fared well. Maestro went solo in 1960, scoring the next year with MODEL GIRL on Coed, while the Crests attempted to survive on their own.                                            
Runaway: Del Shannon (2:18)
When Del Shannon's (real name Charles Westover)  "Runaway" was released in the spring of 1961 a lot of commercial music had begun to sound the same.  "Runaway" was unique and original. Shannon’s soaring falsetto vocals along with the sound of Max Crooks solo on his miniature custom-built keyboard he called a Sumiton played a crucial role in "Runaway's" success.  Legend has it that the lyrics were written while at The Carpet Outlet, where Shannon sold carpets by day.  When the song was finally pressed, Shannon took the first single and presented it to his carpet store boss, Peter Vice, for allowing him to write "Runaway" on company time.



Why Do Fools Fall in Love: 
Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers (2:14)
In the film WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE is playing on the radio when Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) first glimpses a beautiful blond in a white T-bird who looks at him, smiles faintly and then says something so softly that he can't hear her.  Infatuated and obsessed, Curt spends the rest of the evening chasing her all over town like a fool who has fallen in love.   "WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE" was first released on January 10, 1956, it only took 3 weeks before a hundred thousand copies had been sold.  The song was so good that it 
Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
immediately spawned two other cover versions:  one by Gloria Mann and the other by The Diamonds.  All three versions charted but The Teenager's record beat out the competition landing a number six spot on the pop charts and number one on the R & B charts.  After a few months, the record and the group became international hits as "Fools" reached number one in England.  It was the first time an R & B/ rock and roll record by an American group had ever peaked at number one.  It was quite an accomplishment for five American teens from New York City.


That'll Be the Day: Buddy Holly & The Crickets (2:14)
Holly along with drummer Jerry Allison wrote "That'll Be The Day" after watching the movie, "The Searchers" (1956) in which John Wayne uses the catch phrase, "That'll be the day," several times.  Although first recorded in July of 1956, the definitive version was recorded eight months later and when released it became a number 1 seller on the Billboard Hot 100.  It is believed, that although he is given a credit for the composition, Norman Petty was never actually part of the writing process. He insisted on co-ownership of the song as a reward for producing the tune.
Buddy  & The Crickets, 1957

Fanny Mae: Buster Brown (2:52)
Buster Brown (real name Wayman Glasco) was close to fifty years old when his infectious, FANNIE MAE hit the charts in 1959. The versatile Georgia-born musician plays harmonica 
Buster Brown & Harmonica
 and sings on the tune.  The recordings he made for the owner of Fire Records, Bobby Robinson (who discovered Brown working in a chicken and barbecue joint in New York), demonstrates Brown's adaptability and ease at playing the Blues as well as Pop music, Folk music, and standard R&B material.

 At the Hop: Flash Cadillac 
and the Continental Kids (2:25)
Flash Cadillac were the musical answer to the 1970s nostalgia craze as baby boomers longed for the good old Happy Days of the '50s and '60s.  Forming in 1969 on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder, Flash Cadillac and The Continental Kids played and performed new songs in the manner of preceding decades.  Eventually they moved to Los Angeles and landed a gig at the famous Troubadour where Fred Roos, casting director for Graffiti, saw them perform and then later asked them to be in American Graffiti. Incidentally, Fred Roos discovered Mackenzie Phillips, who plays Carol in the film, at the Troubadour too.  In the summer of 1972, before filming, the band recorded three songs in San Francisco, at the legendary, Wally Heider Recording studio on Hyde Street, (now the location of Hyde Street Studios).  The next day they lip-synced them during the filming of the sock hop scene.  The first song they perform in the film is the Philadelphia-based Danny and the Junior's 1957 classic AT THE HOP.

Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids as Herbie & The Heartbeats
She's So Fine: Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids (2:18)
SHES SO FINE is the second song performed by Flash Cadillac in the film.  The tune was penned by the band and is an excellent piece that fits right along side the band's cover versions of oldies. The simple production, slow tempo and falsetto vocals all work together to give the song an authentic 50s feel while at the same time sounding like an original group piece.

The Stroll: The Diamonds (2:26)
The Diamonds
Along with The Platters, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Flash Cadillac, vocal group, THE DIAMONDS has the distinction of having more than one song on the soundtrack. Originally based in Ontario, The Diamonds were the ultimate cover act recording tunes often made famous by other artists, including their 1956 version of WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.  Up until December of 1957, THE STROLL became the Diamonds only original hit.  Dick Clark's American Bandstand helped popularize the tune and make it the number one dance of 1958, while topping out at number four on the Pop charts. In the movie a group of kids in the gym can be seen doing THE STROLL to this song right after Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) "strolls" through the halls and attempts to open his old locker.


See You in September: The Tempos (2:03)
In late 1959 the Pittsburgh vocal group, The Tempos received a temporary set back when one of the band members left to pursue a solo career.  Jim Drake filled the vacancy and the
 band, under contract with Climax Records, quickly recorded their next single.  The A-side, BLESS YOU MY LOVE generated little interest however due to popular acclaim the B-side SEE YOU IN SEPTEMEBER, became a hit. The song was (and still is) unique to pop music because it has a bolero rhythm that is usually associated with a ballroom dance called the beguine.  Although the music is somewhat refined the lyrics are closer to something teenagers who were about to begin a summer vacation could relate to as the vocalist asks, WILL I SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER OR LOSE YOU TO A SUMMER LOVE? The song lasted 23 weeks on Cash Box charts and 14 weeks on the Billboard charts.

_________________________________________________________________________

Notes:
-Amburn, Ellis. Buddy Holly: A Biography.  St. Martin's, 1995.
-Bianculli, David. Lucas Looks Back On Movie-Making.  Fresh Air from WHYY.  National Public Radio broacast. <http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=122279258>  Retrieved 12/10/2010
-Buddy Holy Page.  The Rockabilly Hall of Fame website. <http://www.rockabillyhall.com/BuddyHolly.html>  Retrieved 12/12/2010
-Flash Cadillac website http://www.flashcadillac.com/AmericanGraffiti.html
-George-Warren, Holly (Ed) The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll Fireside. New York.  2005
-Lucas, Wendy. (May 31, 2008) Spoke about the success of American Graffiti at a hometown celebration for George Lucas. State Theater, Modesto, CA. I taped her speech and posted it on You Tube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvEwUOR0kkE
-Warner, Jay American Singing Groups Hal Leonard Corp. Milwaukee. 2006
-Young, C. Brian. "The Making of "Runaway" <http://www.delshannon.com/runaway.htm> 1998-2006

SIDE 2, AMERICAN GRAFFITI SOUNDTRACK



Side 2 of 4 (Record 2)

Surfin' Safari: The Beach Boys (2:05)
The group consisted of three brothers, Carl, Dennis, and Brian Wilson, their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine. Being the only boy who surfed in the band, Dennis thought the sport would be a great topic for a song and suggested it to Brian.  Brian then wrote SURFIN SAFARI with cousin Mike.  Nick Venet of Capitol records heard a demo of the song and signed the boys in June of 1962.  The demo was then embellished with additional harmony parts and released as a single.  On August 11, 1962, the tune reached number 14 and the B-side, a song about a hotrod called, 409 charted at number 76.  The Beach Boys had taken two popular trends and turned them into a moneymaking formula that would last for several years. The Beach Boy's surfin' sound was new and different in 1962 and SURFIN' SAFARI underscores the fact that a new era was approaching and Milner (Paul LeMat) is unable or unwilling to change with it.  He exclaims, "I hate that surfin' shit," and then quickly shuts off the radio.  Then he adds, "Rock and Roll has been going down hill ever since Buddy Holly died."

He's The Great Imposter: The Fleetwoods (1:33)
This vocal group from Olympia Washington consisted of two females: Gretchen Christopher, and Barbara Ellis and one male, Gary Troxel.  As was the case of many male vocalists, Troxel was drafted into the Navy in 1960. However, the group did not breakup, as many did,
The Fleetwoods
once its male singer was in the military.  The same year Troxel was drafted the band achieved a hit with RUNAROUND.  After that, the Fleetwoods only recorded on Troxel's occasional leaves but still managed to score hits with songs like the beautiful smooth ballad, THE GREAT IMPOSTER, charting in 1961. The group had been prolific and recorded so much material before Troxel's service time that they were able to release five albums while he was in the service. In fact, one of their albums displays a picture of him in his uniform. In the film this song plays when Milner is trying to avoid another ticket by displaying false sincerity.  He acts innocent and pretends to respect the law by being submissive and overly courteous to the officer who pulled him over (Jim Bohan).


               Almost Grown: 
            Chuck Berry (2:09)
The debate of who had the first rock and roll record is an argument that may never be settled, but Berry's influence on rock music is unquestionable. His familiarity of the pop market allowed him to break color barriers and play to an integrated audience.  The lyrics on ALMOST GROWN conveyed the attitude and sentiment of his teenage fans who felt oppressed by adults: DONT BOTHER ME LEAVE ME ALONE.  ANYWAY IM ALMOST GROWN!   The tune was on the charts for 39 weeks in 1959 reaching its peak at number thirteen.  Trivia note: Etta James sings back up vocals on this one.


Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: The Platters (2:37)
Blessed with a sweet tenor named Tony Williams, the Platters helped immensely in putting black groups on the pop charts.  The legendary ballad, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" was recorded in Paris, France when the group was touring there.  The tune was originally a number one hit for Paul Whiteman in 1933-34.  The song proved to be a blessing for The Platters as well when the tune reached number one on June 19, 1959 and held the position for 3 weeks. It is a sad moment for Laurie (Cindy Williams), in the film, when she expresses her feelings about her boyfriend, Steve (Ron Howard) flying back East for college. She feels he is abandoning her.  As they dance quietly the lyrics to SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES can be distinctly heard, "Yet today my love has flown away, I am with-out___ my___ love."  We see a tear falling from her eye because, "When a lovely flame dies, Smoke gets in your eyes."
The Diamonds


Little Darlin': The Diamonds (2:04)
After Diamond's manger Nat Goodman heard the latest 45 record by Maurice Williams and the Gladiolas, he knew it was going to be a hit-for the Diamonds, that is.  The song, was "Little Darlin'."  He rehearsed the group to learn the tune and in the process the boys decided to exaggerate the bass and falsetto parts on the record. The music with its castanets, cowbells, electrifying Spanish rhythm guitar and thrilling piano gliss sounded like nothing else before it.  Sounding like a turbo charged cha cha, Little Darlin' was an immediate hit when it was released in February of 1957 and the bass talking bridge has become one of the most memorable parts of 50s rock and roll history.



 Peppermint Twist: Joey Dee and the Starliters (1:58)
In the film Curt tries to get the driver (Lynn Stewart) to follow the elusive woman in the white -T-Bird as she turns and "twists" out of sight leading him "round and round, up and down," and all over the streets of the small town.  The Starliters who perform this catchy tune were discovered In 1960 by agent Don Davis who saw them playing at a Lodi, New Jersey nightclub called Oliveri's.  The Starliters were booked to play a one-time weekend gig at a venue on 45th Street in New York City called the Peppermint Lounge. The band was such a success that they ended up becoming the house band for more than a year.
The Starliters
As a tribute to the lounge "PEPPERMINT TWIST" was written by alto sax player/back up vocalist, Joey Dee and band producer, Henry Glover.  While in the studio recording the tune lead singer, David Brigati couldn’t quite get the feel the producer was looking for so Joey Dee was asked to give it a try.  Joey taking the lead turned out to be just what the song needed. The song was released and hit the top of the charts in November 1961 and in the process helped make the Peppermint Lounge famous: attracting celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy, Truman Capote, and Judy Garland. The tune was but one of many songs that perpetuated the infectious but annoying hip-swiveling dance craze, THE TWIST which started in September 1960 when wholesome Chubby Checker covered Hank Ballard's 1958 song "THE TWIST."  Incidentally, The popular tune, THE TWIST held the number one spot on The Billboard Hot 100 twice: Once in late 1960 and again in January 1962.  Its resurgence in popularity at the time is reportedly due, in part, to a gossip item in the New york papers which placed actress Merle Oberon and the elderly exile Prince Serge Obolensky of Russia at the Peppermint Lounge, Twisting the night away.  Thus, a fad was reborn.  Thankfully, the song was excluded from the Graffiti soundtrack.

Barbara-Ann: The Regents (2:14)
This tune has an interesting history behind it.  The song was used as a warm up tune for the Regents.  In 1958 after recording some songs in the studio, the band had about ten minutes worth of time left so they recorded Barbara-Ann.
The band's songs were unable to generate any interest from New York-area companies and soon after the band broke up.  Flash-forward to early 1961 when the owner of Cousin's Records, Lou Cicchetti heard the single, liked it, and agreed to issue the Regent's record.  This left him with a problem however, there was no group and no B-side.  The Regents quickly reunited (minus a couple of members), and "I'm so Lonely" was cut as the flip-side.  In March 1961 "Barbara-Ann" was released on Cousins.  The song was an immediate radio hit and became number one in New York.  In April Cousins had to lease it to the larger Roulette/Gee to keep up with orders.  The song was translated into French and German for successful versions overseas.

The Book of Love entered the Billboard Hot 100 & peaked at # 5 in 1958.
Book of Love: The Monotones (2:17)
The Monotones consisted of six members two of which sang bass.  Bea Caslon of Hull Records heard the Newark, New Jersey residents demo and agreed to record their song, "Book of Love."  The famous intro is now part of do-wop folklore, as author of "American Singing Groups," Jay Warner puts it.  Apparently, The group was rehearsing their now famous intro, "Oh I wonder wonder ohm ba doo doo who," when a baseball belonging to one of the neighborhood kids accidentally crashed through the window.  When the tape was played back they heard it: "I wonder wonder ohm ba doo doo who, BOOM!"  The timing was perfect, it fit right in so they left it in and the song was released in December of 1957 with the happy "mistake" intact.  Although my B.S. radar went off when I first read this anecdote, I'll let my readers decide whether they want to believe it.  Back story or not, this is a great tune with very catchy lyrics.  The numerating of various chapters in the Book of Love is unique and make it a classic.

Buddy Holy & The Crickets 1957
Maybe Baby: 
Buddy Holly 
& The Crickets (2:01)
"Maybe Baby" was originally released under the Crickets name not Buddy Holly's.  In 1957 Holly had signed as a solo act by Coral Records in New York.  The Crickets, on the other hand, were signed as a group on another subsidiary label, Brunswick (both labels were subsidiaries of Decca). A vocal group called The Picks overdubbed back up vocals on the song. Released on February 12 1958 "Maybe Baby" was the groups' third single. By April the single topped out at number seventeen. In Graffiti this song plays as The Toad (Charles Martin-Smith) tries to buy alcohol in order to score points with Debbie (Candy Clark) "Maybe" Toad will get lucky tonight.

Ya Ya: Lee Dorsey (2:22)
Born in New Orleans in 1924. He served in the U.S. Navy and began a career in boxing as a light heavyweight. Having retired from boxing, Dorsey moved to his birthplace and while running his own auto body shop he pursued a singing career by night.  In 1961, he signed with Bobby Robinson's Fury label, where he entered the studio with producer Allen Toussaint. Dorsey's gibberish tune "Ya Ya" - supposedly inspired by a children's rhyme - became his first national hit that year, reaching the pop Top Ten and peaking at number one on the R&B
charts.

The Great Pretender: The Platters (2:35)
The group's manager, Buck Ram wrote many of The Platter's successful songs. After the group's first chart-topper," ONLY YOU," Ram pushed Mercury Records to continue promoting the black group as if they were a pop white act, and to keep the momentum going Ram told them of a terrific new song he had that was even better than "ONLY YOU.”  When pressed to name it he quickly replied "THE GREAT PRETENDER " Now all he had to do was write it, so he did. in November 1955,: it became the groups' second number one R & B single and first number one Pop hit. Also written by Ram, the song introduced the group's new role as American ambassadors of music when "THE GREAT PRETENDER " reached number 5 in England and soon became popular in other countries.  In Graffiti Curt, played by Richard Dreyfuss, felt defeated and sorry for himself because he couldn't find the woman of his dreams (Suzanne Somers). Defeated and sulking, he sat on the hood of a car and stared at TV(s) through the Wilson Appliance Store window as he sung the sorrowful text to "THE GREAT PRETENDER "

Cover from an original French 4-song Jukebox EP Series record.

Flip Over to Side 3


_____________________________________________________________



NOTES:

-45 Cat.com.  Vinyl Database.  Various album and record sleeve photos. 45cat.com.
-Chuck Berry.  http://www.chuckberry.com/about/bio.htm
-George-Warren, Holly (Ed) The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll Fireside. New York.  2005
 -Rockabilly Hall of Fame Page < http://www.rockabillyhall.com/BuddyHolly.html
-The Vocal Group Hall of Fame Foundation.  http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/the_platters.html
 -Warner, Jay American Singing Groups Hal Leonard Corp. Milwaukee. 2006