Wednesday, April 16, 2008

After Whatever the Other Life Brings

That clip I posted a couple of weeks ago showing Badfinger doing "Baby Blue" was taken, as I noted at the time, from a variety show hosted by Kenny Rogers (along with the First Edition) called "Rollin' on the River." That was the first I ever heard about that program, which was syndicated from 1971 to 1973, and was shot on a riverboat set in Toronto, of all places.

By all accounts, it was pretty cool. All the performances were done live, not lip-synced, which I suppose is one reason ABBA never appeared. And Kenny (or his producer) had top-notch taste: The show featured people like Al Green, Ike & Tina Turner, Merle Haggard, Billy Preston, Bill Withers, and of course Badfinger. Cheech & Chong made an appearance, as did Chilliwack, for all my readers from western Canada.

I don't know how successful this show was - I'm pretty sure I never saw it, which means it may not have made the Chicago market - but once it ended in 1973, Kenny fell on hard times. The First Edition broke up, and Rogers was reduced to making a living by hawking a correspondence guitar course. Then, in 1976, along came "Lucille," and I guess things arguably got better, though not for Kenny's listeners.

"Rollin" was less successful when Kenny and the First Edition performed on it. Here's something I bet you've never seen before, nor wanted to: Kenny Rogers singing the Eagles' "Take It Easy." Don't worry; the clip is brief.

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