|Created by||Jack Good|
|Written by||Jimmy O'Neill|
|Directed by||Richard Dunlap|
|Presented by||Jimmy O'Neill|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|Executive||Selig J. Seligman|
|Running time||24–26 minutes|
(September 1964–January 1965)
|Production||American Broadcasting Company|
|Original release||September 16, 1964- January 8, 1966|
Shindig! was an American musical variety series which aired on ABC from September 16, 1964 to January 8, 1966. The show was hosted by Jimmy O'Neill, a disc jockey in Los Angeles at the time who also created the show along with his wife Sharon Sheeley and production executive Art Stolnitz. The original pilot was rejected by ABC and David Sontag, then Executive Producer of ABC, redeveloped and completely redesigned the show. A new pilot with a new cast of artists was shot starring Sam Cooke. That pilot aired as the premiere episode.
Shindig! was conceived as a short-notice replacement for Hootenanny, a series that had specialized in folk revival music. The folk revival had fizzled in 1964 as the result of the British Invasion, which damaged the ratings for Hootenanny and prompted that show's cancellation.
Shindig! focused on a broader variety of popular music than its predecessor and first aired for a half-hour every Wednesday evening, but was expanded to an hour in January 1965. In the fall of 1965, the show split into two half-hour telecasts, on Thursday and Saturday nights.
Shindig!'s premiere episode was actually the second pilot, and featured Sam Cooke, The Everly Brothers and The Righteous Brothers. Later shows were taped in Britain with The Beatles as the guests. The series featured other "British invasion" bands and performers including The Who, The Rolling Stones and Cilla Black. Shindig continued to broadcast episodes from London throughout its run.
Towards the end of the program's run, The Mamas and the Papas appeared in an episode featuring Barry McGuire. Although serving as his backup singers, the group introduced "California Dreamin'" on the program, which launched the group's career.
Shindig! is one of the few rock music shows of the era to still have all of the episodes available to watch.
In September 1965, the show was moved out of its Wednesday-night timeslot (where it gave The Beverly Hillbillies its first serious competition in its time period among younger viewers), and split into two half-hours on new days and times (Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30 P.M. Eastern time). The show faced tough competition from Daniel Boone and The Munsters on Thursdays along with Flipper and The Jackie Gleason Show on Saturdays. Additionally, the Saturday edition aired in a time period when many of its potential viewers were going out and, thus, not at home to watch television. By October 1965, the show was having ratings problems (Time magazine said "early-season tide [was] running against the teen scene"), and in January 1966, Shindig! was cancelled and replaced in its Thursday time slots by Batman.
Shindig! also featured a dance troupe choreographed by David Winters and André Tayir, who accompanied the music acts of the week (Winters later worked on the competing NBC show Hullabaloo). One of the regular dancers was Teri Garr, who would go on to find success as an actress. Others included Maria Gahva, Lorene Yarnell (later of the dance team Shields and Yarnell) Diane Stuart, Pam Freeman, Gina Trikinis, Marianna Picora, Virginia Justus, Rini Jarmon and Carol Shelyne, who always wore glasses while she danced. Occasionally, a small group of dancers who sang would get a featured spot; this rotating group was billed as The Shindig Girls. The assistant choreographer was Antonia Basilotta, better known as Toni Basil, who later gained fame with her 1980s hit song "Mickey." Both Garr and Basil were dance students of David Winters at the time and worked with him on most of his choreography projects.
The series house band was supposedly known as "The Shin-diggers", but that was actually the name host Jimmy O'Neill used to refer to fans of the show. At first, TV credits identified the musicians simply as the Shindig Band. By early 1965, they'd been renamed Sir Rufus Marion Banks and his Band of Men, but the generic name had returned by the time "Shindig" went off the air. The rhythm section was spun off into a featured group and named the Shindogs. It included Joey Cooper on bass, Chuck Blackwell on drums, James Burton on lead guitar, Delaney Bramlett on rhythm guitar and Glen D. Hardin on keyboards. Cooper and Bramlett traded off lead vocal duties. The larger band featured Jerry Cole on lead guitar, Russ Titelman on rhythm guitar, Larry Knechtel on bass, Leon Russell on piano, Julius Wechter on percussion and Ritchie Frost on drums. Later, Billy Preston took over keyboards and performed as a singing regular. Glen Campbell was not a regular member of this band but a frequent guest performer. Ray Pohlman was the musical director, and he was also one - as was Campbell, Knechtel, Wechter and Russell - of the collection of first-call pop studio musicians that would later be known as "The Wrecking Crew." In some instances when one of the guitarists was unable to work, Pohlman would bring in Bill Aken to fill in.
The Righteous Brothers, Dick and Dee Dee, Jackie and Gayle, Donna Loren, Willy Nelson (not the famous Country singer) and Bobby Sherman were regular vocalists on the series. Up until July 1965 when he quit the show, producer Jack Good was also a regular, wearing a bowler hat and improvising comedy routines with Jimmy O'Neill at the close of each episode.
The Blossoms, an all-female vocal group featuring Darlene Love, backed up many of the performers and were occasionally featured in spotlight performances. The Wellingtons were a trio of male singers who performed on their own, and as backup singers. Another male group, The Eligibles, sometimes alternated with The Wellingtons on backup.
Meanwhile ABC, which closed the gap on the competition in the overall prime-time race for the first time the previous season, momentarily dropped out of contention again, primarily for riding too long with fading favorites. The network was caught with seven of the bottom 13 Nielsens, including the eight-year-old Donna Reed Show and the 13-year-old Ozzie and Harriet. With the early-season tide running against the teen scene, the two segments of Shindig are being cancelled and Ben Casey's slide to 73rd seemed to indicate that the doctor series are sickening unto death.
1964: Cash tapes an episode of the ABC musical-variety program Shindig!