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28 March 2010

Ray Charles On The Big T.N.T. Show (1965)

The Big T.N.T. Show was a 1966 concert film, directed by Larry Peerce and distributed by American International Pictures. It included performances by numerous popular rock and roll and R&B acts from the United States and England.
It in fact was a sequel to The T.A.M.I. Show (1964) and like it, Phil Spector was all over it. The Big T.N.T. Show was also shot on videotape and transferred to 35-millimeter film. A lot of the footage from it was reused in the film That Was Rock a.k.a. The T.A.M.I./T.N.T. Show (1984).
Poster, positioning the showas a Folk Festival...
The concert was shot before a live audience at the Moulin Rouge club in Los Angeles on November 29 and 30, 1965. Its pre-release title and the theme song were This Could Be The Night, written by Harry Nilsson, produced by Phil Spector, and performed by The Modern Folk Quartet. Ray performed What'd I Say, Georgia On My Mind, and Let The Good Times Roll.
The 'Ray Charles Orchestra' played along with the tunes #1 and # 30 (or were they only playbacking?!). The Jet article reproduced below states that the band was "composed largely of Los Angeles jazz artists", including bassist Al McKibbon and tenor player William Green. The Raelettes were (f.l.t.r. on the videos below): Lillie Fort, Gwen Berry, Fritz Basket, and Marilyn McCoo.
Ray's appearance on this show marked his come back after his rehab.

The full playlist was:
  1. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - instrumental; David McCallum conducting the orchestra (studio band + Ray Charles Orchestra)
  2. What'd I Say -  Ray Charles
  3. Downtown -  Petula Clark
  4. Do You Believe In Magic -  The Lovin' Spoonful
  5. You Didn't Have To Be So Nice -  The Lovin' Spoonful 
  6. Hey Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley 
  7. 500 Miles - Joan Baez
  8. There But For Fortune - Joan Baez 
  9. Georgia On My Mind - Ray Charles 
  10. Let The Good Times Roll  - Ray Charles  
  11. You've Lost That Loving Feeling - Joan Baez; Phil Spector on piano 
  12. Be My Baby - The Ronettes
  13. Shout -  The Ronettes
  14. Dang Me - Roger Miller  
  15. Engine Engine#9 - Roger Miller
  16. King Of The Road - Roger Miller  
  17. England Swings - Roger Miller   
  18. Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season) -  The Byrds
  19. The Bells of Rhymney - The Byrds
  20. Mr. Tambourine Man - The Byrds 
  21. You're The One - Petula Clark 
  22. My Love - Petula Clark 
  23. Universal Soldier - Donovan
  24. Reflections From A Summer's Day - Donovan
  25. Bert's Blues - Donovan
  26. Sweet Joy - Donovan
  27. Shake - Ike &Tina Turner
  28. It's Gonna Work Out Fine - Ike &Tina Turner
  29. Please, Please, Please - Ike &Tina Turner   
  30. One, Two, Three (1-2-3) - instrumental; David McCallum conducting the orchestra (studio band + Ray Charles Orchestra)
The first traces of a theatre distribution that I found are from January 1966. A compilation of the T.A.M.I. and T.N.T. shows, under the title That Was Rock (also see clip below) was released on VHS in 1984. Anchor Bay released The Big T.N.T. Show on VHS in 1988. In March 2011 the program finally came out on DVD.
The show was hosted by David McCallum's, of U.N.C.L.E. fame (the campy espionage series The Man From U.N.C.L.E), who also conducted the band. "This was actually less wacky than it may now appear since McCallum was trained - albeit briefly - at the Royal Academy of Music in London.," this source says.

According to legend, the following dialog between the two geniuses took place  backstage :

RC: 'Are you Mr. Phil Spector?’
PS: ‘Yes.’
RC: ‘Are you the Boy Genius?’
PS: ‘Yes.’
RC: ‘Are you the inventor of the Wall Of Sound?’
PS: ‘Yes.’
RC: ‘Are you the guy who had over 20 hit singles in a row?’
PS: ‘Yes’
RC: ‘Then Mr. Spector, how come there's no toilet paper in the bathroom?’

In Europe the film was distributed under the title The Big Beat

McCallum was booked as the conductor, but Phil Spector certainly seems to lead a wall of guitars here (Barney Kessel, Bill Pittman, Don Peake and Herb Ellis).

Don Peake showing the Gibson he played on:

YouTube has the complete film:

Here's a contemporary radio commercial for the film.

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