An amazing time capsule of rock history exploded onto the screen in October 2009 at the AFI Theater in Silver Spring, Md., as legendary D.C. music personality Barry Richards screened highlights from his long-lost TV show “Turn-On”. Remastered from the original 2-inch broadcast videotapes, the mind-blowing series is headed to DVD this year.
Barry has worked as a DJ, concert promoter, and music-biz mover all over the country, but he’s best-loved in his hometown of D.C., where he’s known as “The Boss with the Hot Sauce” and “The Heavy Head Leader”. An early champion of hard ‘n’ heavy rock, Barry was among the few underground radio jocks to play such proto-metal bands as Sir Lord Baltimore. He brought Black Sabbath and many other major acts to Md./D.C./Va.-area venues back in the 1970s.
“Turn-On” was a free-form, late-night television show that featured live rock bands, old Flash Gordon serials, stoned interview segments, a hippie comedian, celebrity guests (Richard Pryor, Cheech and Chong, Wolfman Jack, even actor Robert Mitchum), and the bearded Barry Richards hosting it all on low-budget Day-Glo sets. WDCA Channel 20 allowed “Hairy Barry” to roll “Turn-On” all night until it was time for the UHF station to play the National Anthem.
Barry presented rare, live in-studio performances by Alice Cooper (doing “Eighteen” and “Black Juju” from the brand-new “Love It to Death”), Humble Pie (with Steve Marriott and the very young Peter Frampton, “Rock-On” era), Richie Havens, Little Richard (jamming “Good Golly, Miss Molly” with the obscure ’70s band Jamul – who play a loud version of “Tobacco Road” in what looks like the TV station parking lot), Crow (“Evil Woman”), The Illusion, and many more.
One now-vanished episode featured Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band circa “Lick My Decals Off”. Surviving shows in the Barry Richards vault include footage of Fats Domino playing with the Byrds, Rory Gallagher in his early prime, Peter Kaukonen’s band Black Kangaroo, and the Bob Seger System blasting songs from their early LPs.
Along with the videotapes of his show, Barry has unearthed a radio interview he did with all four Beatles just prior to their historic Ed Sullivan appearance!
Fans can also look forward to previously unreleased footage of guitar hero Tommy Bolin (with his early band Zephyr), and clips from other Barry Richards TV shows: a ’60s precursor of “Turn On” called “Groove-In”, “Barry Richards Presents”, the “Rock and Soul” show, the disco-era “Studio 78”, and more.
Richards’ TV shows have not been seen since their original airings. But those who saw the show remember it fondly. Musician Joe Hasselvander (Pentagram, Death Row, Raven) raves about “Turn-On” and Barry Richards, as do Hasselvander’s erstwhile bandmate Bobby Liebling, Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat, and underground filmmaker Nick Zedd (They Eat Scum). Author Edward Lee prominently references Barry Richards in his twisted novella “The Pig” and its sequel, “The House”.
The DVD will offer interviews with Barry Richards, audio from his classic radio shows, and other surprises. The Beatles radio interview is among the special features.
Little Richard even wrote and performed a song about Barry, which can be heard in this YouTube trailer for the upcoming DVD collection. Watch out for the segment with the mighty Iron Jaw Samson!