The May 15, 1965 arrival of the Rolling Stones on the HOLLYWOOD A GO-GO set was arguably the biggest moment in the show's history. This was at the height of the British Invasion first wave and there was still some debate as to whether the Beatles or the Stones were the premier act from across the pond.
HOLLYWOOD A GO-GOdid not have an extensive list of British acts in its collective 58 episode resume. Besides the Rolling Stones it consisted of Adam Faith, Chad & Jeremy, Donovan, Fortunes, Ian Whitcomb, Noel Harrison, and Peter & Gordon. The Moody Blues and Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders allegedly appeared, but we have no hard evidence to confirm this. Considering that the music charts were dominated by British artists in 1965, the show fell short of booking as many of these acts as their competitors. Part of the reason was their tiny budget for bookings. Many of the artists who appeared were booked for small fees or just appeared for free after some convincing by the KHJ folks that they were getting maximum television exposure gratis (which they were).
This was the Stones third American tour (first of 1965) and it lasted just over one month from April 23 to May 29. On the day that this show was taped they also played a concert that evening in San Bernardino, California at the Swing Auditorium. They were young, they were busy, and they were much in demand.
Episode # 22 was taped on Saturday, May 15, 1965, and had its original broadcast a week later on May 22. Perhaps sensing that this was going to be an event for TV audiences KHJ also nabbed Chuck Berry for the same episode. The Stones made no secret of their adoration of Chuck; in particular Keith Richards loved Chuck's guitar riffs. This was no doubt an appearance that Mick and the boys were looking forward to.
Three songs were chosen to be performed. The obvious one was their current hit "The Last Time" and its B side "Play With Fire". Both were recorded only a few months earlier at RCA Studios in Hollywood, so the Stones had already had a taste of the local territory. The single was released in the US on March 13 and fortuitously peaked at # 17 on the charts during the month of their appearance. The third song, "Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin')" was recorded in early November 1964 and made its first appearance February 12, 1965 on "The Rolling Stones, Now" album.
As an example of how fast paced this American tour was the Stones taped a Shivaree show the day after the HOLLYWOOD A GO-GOtaping. Shindig followed four days after that. There were also concerts most evenings. Just three days before visiting the KHJ-TV studios they were in the Hollywood RCA Studios for a recording session.
Also of note for this episode was that it appears that KHJ might have hand picked the kids in the audience. We see many of the regulars, some of whom were the best dancers, and all are dressed a bit better than the norm.
Promotional ad for the Rolling Stones latest album and first American tour of 1965. The timing of "The Last Time" climbing the charts and their appearance on HOLLYWOOD A GO-GO could not have been better.
And now we get to some first-hand actual recollections of people who were at the taping of this episode. One of the best accounts, complete with humorous anecdotes, comes from the associate producer at the time, DONALIE FITZGERALD. She details her memories of that day in her book titled, "If You Fall Down, Pick Yourself Up Like A Lady" (1). Quoting her below:
"The day of the show, I was called on the phone. 'They are here, in their Ambassador-Wiltshire hotel rooms. Where is the limo ?'
Limo ? I had no budget for a limo, but my own car was a swank, black 1964 four-door (also known as 'suicide doors'). So our assistant director, Ron Fury, put on a baseball cap and called himself the limo man, and away we went to the Ambassador to pick up the Stones.
I found them wearing dirty t-shirts, slopping beer all over each other, shaking the cans to see how high the fizz would go, splashing it all over the ceilings, walls, and curtains. The man at the door said, 'They are ready', and I, hoping they were bringing clean shirts with them, said. 'Let's go.'
We arrived at the station, a Melrose Avenue fixture next to the Paramount Studios in Hollywood, where residents see stars from movies, television, and records every day. Stars would go to local supermarkets and shop just like their fans. Stars went to movies and restaurants. It was no big deal, but when my family-car turned Rolling-Stones-mobile pulled up in front of KHJ-TV, a wave of girls came rushing from behind bushes, statues, signs, cars, and doorways. The Stones jumped out of the car, running straight into the station with a mass of teenage girls following close behind. Down the long hall, toward the studio where we would do the taping, the Stones stopped and went inside the prop room, which was exactly where my thirteen and fourteen year old daughters had taken refuge when they saw the running mob of girls. The door was locked behind the Stones, and they were now alone with my little girls. Those slobby, beer-squirting boys.
I was the line producer of the television show the Stones were about to appear on, but hit record or no hit record, I was going to get my own satisfaction as the mother of my two little girls. I was going to smash a Rolling Stone if anything happened to one of them. Five, ten minutes, an eternity and the door opened, and suddenly the Rolling Stones were ready to perform ! My daughters drifted out, eyes glazed, catatonic, but otherwise okay. They told me the Stones had been playing games with the various props, that Brian Jones twirled his hair in a unicorn style and repeatedly announced that he was 'a queer', and Mick Jagger rolled Dave Gilmore's (2) old swivel desk chair from one end of the room to the other, knocking over props and grabbing funny hats.
Liberti (3) and both Conlan brothers (4) finally hustled the Stones out of the prop room, toward the stage. Nobody noticed them, not until they were in place, on camera, live (5). Every one of them had removed his socks, rolled them up, and stuck them in their respective crotches. It was a grotesque look anywhere, and this was a teenage television show, live (5), on the air. No makeup, no rehearsal, no socks. Just large bulges where their penises might have been.
It disgusted me. From the control room, we told all three cameramen to stay away from the Stones' pants' bulges. We saw alot of Mick's spindly, flailing, dancing tennis shoes that day.
Years later, my daughter Valerie encountered Bill Wyman at a Paris cocktail party, and she reminded him of that California day. His reply was, 'Oh, yeah, your mum was the one who made me take me bubble gum out of me mouth'."
(1) "If You Fall Down, Pick Yourself Up Like A Lady", Donalie Young Fitzgerald Scherer, Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc. (2009), ISBN: 978-1-4349-0260-3 (2) Dave Gilmore worked in the KHJ studio props department (3) John Liberti was the KHJ studio stage manager (4) Bob Conlan and Ridge Conlon both worked in the KHJ studio props department (5) This was not a "live" broadcast. It was taped live and then broadcast a week later.
Another great story from the HOLLYWOOD A GO-GORolling Stones appearance comes from Challengers bass player Randy Nauert. The Challengers were one of the other lucky performers to be on episode # 22. The Stones roadies were apparently a bit delinquent in their duties for this gig because when it came time to roll the cameras Stones drummer Charlie Watts found himself without a tambourine which was needed for "Play With Fire". Challengers drummer Richard Delvy came to the rescue and loaned his tambourine to Charlie for the taping. Randy has even supplied a photo (below) from that day documenting the tambourine transfer. On the left you can see Richard, then Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts. Fifty years later that same tambourine is in Randy's safekeeping.
Randy also recollects the playful atmosphere on the set that day. Brian Jones was playing a cat and mouse game with director Joe Agnello by sticking his tongue out at the camera. Note in the photos how close the cameramen are to the band. "The Last Time" took more than one take because of Brian's tongue. Brian did however win the game as you can see in both "The Last Time" and "Play With Fire" videos. Between the sock problem outlined in DONALIE'S account and Brian's wayward tongue the Stones gave the KHJ production team and cameramen a day to remember.