Between August 1972 and May 1981, late night television was a little more rockin'. Producer Burt Sugarman's The Midnight Special followed Johnny Carson's Tonight Show on Friday evenings, welcoming viewers with Johnny Rivers' rousing rendition of the traditional tune (a Top 20 hit for Rivers in 1965). Over the course of 450 episodes, The Midnight Special presented a staggering array of music's top talent on network television with most songs performed live for the majority of its run. The program, featuring announcer Wolfman Jack and a variety of guest hosts, premiered as a one-off special in August 1972 but was promoted to full-time status in February 1973. It first arrived on DVD in 2006 with episodes available as mail order exclusives, heavily promoted via infomercials. On September 9, however, StarVista/Time Life will make The Midnight Special more widely available for the first time with 11-DVD, 6-DVD and 1-DVD releases. With the resurgence in many of the '70s' greatest pop hits thanks to the hit Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack the time couldn't be better! (Indeed, many of the Star Lord's favorite songs were performed on The Midnight Special and will be included on these DVDs.)
The 11-disc Midnight Special Collectors' Edition is now available to order exclusively online at MIDNIGHTSPECIALDVDS.COM for just under $100.00; while it's expected that this set may eventually arrive to general retail (in the tradition of other StarVista sets for The Carol Burnett Show, Mama's Family and The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts), it will remain a website exclusive for the foreseeable future. This edition features roughly 10 hours of musical performances plus 5 hours of newly-produced bonus material and a 32-page booklet. The single-disc and 6-disc versions will be released on September 9 to stores everywhere. The Midnight Special played host to artists from the many genres that occupied the Top 40 slots on the Billboard Hot 100 during the 1970s, including Fleetwood Mac, The Bee Gees, Linda Ronstadt, The O'Jays, Dolly Parton, David Bowie (who broadcast his final television appearance as Ziggy Stardust on the program), Alice Cooper, Electric Light Orchestra, Neil Sedaka, Barry Manilow, Alice Cooper, frequent host Helen Reddy, and countless others who are featured on StarVista's new sets. The Midnight Special also gave the spotlight over to the era's top comedians like Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, George Carlin, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin and Freddie Prinze.
After the jump: a look at what you can expect to find on these collections!
The Collectors' Edition features eight discs of 130 live performances (selected from 423 complete shows), one disc of comedy performances and two discs of exclusive bonus features, including interviews with Peter Frampton, Alice Cooper, Frankie Valli, Loggins & Messina, Eddie Money, George Benson, Charlie Daniels, Todd Rundgren, Helen Reddy, Neil Sedaka, Harry Wayne Casey (the KC of KC and the Sunshine Band), creator Burt Sugarman and others. Twelve additional featurettes are also present, including "The History of The Midnight Special," "Wolfman at Midnight," "Star-Studded Stage Fashion," "No Safety Net: Live on TV," "I Am Woman: Helen Reddy as Host," "Benson & Frampton Talk Shop," "The Making of The Midnight Special" "The Legacy of The Midnight Special," a Burt Sugarman featurette, and more.
StarVista's press release has supplied a list of some of the performances contained in the 11-disc box:
- Aerosmith / "Dream On"
- Alice Cooper / Medley: "Eighteen/Only Women/Billion Dollar Babies"
- Bee Gees / "Nights on Broadway"
- Earth, Wind & Fire / "Shining Star"
- Electric Light Orchestra / "Evil Woman"
- Fleetwood Mac / "Over My Head"
- Gordon Lightfoot / "Sundown"
- Heart / "Crazy on You"
- Helen Reddy / "I Am Woman"
- Jim Croce / "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"
- John Denver / "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
- KC and the Sunshine Band / "That's the Way (I Like It)"
- LaBelle / "Lady Marmalade"
- Linda Ronstadt / "When Will I Be Loved"
- Marvin Gaye / "Let's Get It On"
- Peter Frampton / "Show Me the Way"
- REO Speedwagon / "Keep on Loving You"
- The Doobie Brothers / "Listen to the Music"
- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / "American Girl"
The Collectors' Edition also includes many of the show's famous musical collaborations:
- Aretha Franklin & Ray Charles / "Takes Two to Tango"
- Carlos Santana & George Benson / "Breezin' "
- Etta James & Dr. John / "I'd Rather Go Blind"
- Gladys Knight & B.B. King / "The Thrill Is Gone"
- Helen Reddy & The Bee Gees / "To Love Somebody"
- John Denver & Cass Elliot / "Leaving on a Jet Plane"
- Neil Sedaka/Captain & Tennille / "Love Will Keep Us Together"
- Bee Gees with Helen Reddy / "To Love Somebody"
- George Benson, Van Morrison, Carlos Santana, Etta James, Dr. John / "Moondance"
The full list of the 130 performances in the box set can be found at the show's website, but other highlights include:
- Hall and Oates, "She's Gone/Sara Smile/Rich Girl"
- Harry Chapin, "Taxi"
- Billy Paul, "Me and Mrs. Jones"
- Rupert Holmes, "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)"
- America, "Sister Golden Hair"
- Redbone, "Come and Get Your Love"
- Frankie Valli, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "Grease"
- Bread, "Make It with You"
- Barry Manilow, "Mandy" and "It's a Miracle"
- Glen Campbell, "Southern Nights"
- Dolly Parton, "I Will Always Love You" and "Jolene"
- Andrew Gold, "Lonely Boy"
- Todd Rundgren, "Hello, It's Me"
- Spinners, "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" and "I'll Be Around"
The 6-DVD set includes 96 performances, and the single-DVD version has sixteen. Both include some of the bonus material on the box set. Currently, track listings do not appear to be available for the 1-DVD and 6-DVD editions. We will update pre-order links as soon as they become available! The box set is available for pre-order now and will ship by September 8; the other titles arrive on September 9 in stores.
Deluxe 11-DVD Box Set: StarVista
6-DVD Set: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1-DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.