Jack Good - Mr "Oh Boy!"

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Re: Jack Good - Mr "Oh Boy!"

Postby RayL » Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:18 pm

Another obit (from The Times, I believe, though it came to me from another source). Incidentally, it seems that Jack and I both attended Trinity Grammar School (though not at the same time).

Jack Good
Producer who revolutionised television by creating pop-orientated programmes such as Six-Five Special, Oh Boy! and Shindig!

In a black-out that today seems incomprehensible, British television in the 1950s was required to shut down for one hour at peak time every night. Known as “the toddlers’ truce”, the 6pm closure was intended to give parents time to put their children to bed before transmission resumed at 7 o’clock.

It took an act of parliament to lift the restriction and when this happened in 1957, the BBC was uncertain of how to fill the vacant space. With some trepidation, the corporation turned to producer Jack Good to create British television’s first programme aimed at the burgeoning teenage market. It was a move that sparked a broadcasting revolution. Good’s programme opened the floodgates to a new style of poporientated television, leading to Top of the Pops and Ready Steady Go!.

Since the programme went out at 6.05 pm after a five-minute news bulletin, it was given the name Six-Five Special. The disc jockey Pete Murray, who presented the show with Josephine Douglas, opened it with the catchphrase “time to jive on the old six five” — words that reportedly caused apoplexy in the stuffier corners of Broadcasting House and confirmed the opinion of Roy McKay, head of religious broadcasting, that the programme was “corrupting the morals of the youth of this country”.

The BBC had envisaged an adolescent magazine programme, but Good, a 27-year-old Oxford graduate who had been inspired by the sight of teenagers jiving in cinema aisles when the film Rock Around the Clock arrived in Britain in 1956, knew that it was music that would attract a big audience. He set out to create a show built around the emerging sounds of rock’n’roll. With an almost evangelical zeal, he booked Lonnie Donegan, Marty Wilde and Tommy Steele and the like, and fought endless battles with the broadcasting establishment. The BBC hierarchy demanded that Good balance the pop singers with comedy sketches, items on hobbies, a sports section and classical music.

Nevertheless, Six-Five Special broke new ground despite a small budget that precluded booking the big American acts. When Good rang Colonel Tom Parker to ask about Elvis Presley’s availability, he was quoted $10,000 (about £65,000 today), and that was merely the manager’s cut; the voice down the transatlantic phone line added: “Now regarding the fee for the boy himself . . . ” According to Good: “They only gave us £1,000 [£22,000 today] for the whole programme so I had to find British rockers.”

Determined to make the show as spontaneous as possible, Good filled the studio with a conventional set and tables and chairs for the audience, only to wheel them out of the way shortly before transmission to fill the studio with a tableau of dancing teenagers. “I hate light entertainment shows and smart-looking fellows in dinner jackets saying, ‘Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to blah blah blah,’ ” he complained. “I just want A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom! Tutti frutti! Then next number. Bored with that. Next number!”

With the show being broadcast live, the BBC found it hard to keep Good in check as he delivered 12 million viewers. Originally commissioned for six programmes, the ratings ensured that Six-Five Special became a fixture. The Methodist minister Donald (later Lord) Soper was one of many who was outraged. “I can’t understand how intelligent people can derive any sort of satisfaction from something which is emotionally embarrassing and intellectually ridiculous,” he complained. Within the BBC, there were many who agreed. One memo complained about “a totally unnecessary and unsuitable dance from a girl in a skin-tight costume” and “too many Presley-type belly-swingers”.

Within a year Good had tired of the petty day-to-day struggles. “They said rock’n’roll was dying and the programme had to reflect that,” he said. “I disagreed, so we parted company.”

He defected to ITV, where he was given free rein to launch Oh Boy!. Taking its name from the title of a Buddy Holly hit, the show was broadcast live from the Hackney Empire in direct competition with Six-Five Special on Saturday evenings and allowed Good to develop his vision of a fast-paced rock’n’roll show. With undiluted pop content, Oh Boy! was a huge success, and made stars out of Billy Fury and Cliff Richard, then unknown.

When Good was given a 20-minute slot to showcase Oh Boy! in the 1959 Royal Variety Performance, it must have given him particular pleasure to know that BBC Radio was compelled to broadcast it on the Light Programme. He would have been even more satisfied had he been able to read a memo in which Kenneth Adam, the controller of BBC television, noted: “I have been making inquiries among the young generation about the interest in Oh Boy! and Six-Five Special and there is no doubt that the former is preferred. At this I am not surprised. Its formula is better, it has more punch.”

The BBC brought in Dennis Main Wilson to produce Six-Five Special, but he could not rival Good’s dynamism and the programme was dropped. According to Andrew Loog Oldham, the manager of the Rolling Stones, Oh Boy! was “a weekly communion of pure sex and energy”. When Brian Epstein commissioned the first TV film about the Beatles in 1964, Good was the obvious choice to produce it.

He painted a mural that portrayed the television as the Devil

In many ways Good cut an unlikely figure in the brash world of 1950s pop music. Cultured, with a cut-glass accent, his erudition held him in good stead in his battles with the BBC. When the deputy director of television complained about the “lavatorial humour” in an early edition of Six-Five Special, Gold responded: “Grateful though I am for all criticism, your comment seemed reminiscent of the charge against Dean Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels that it was in bad taste because it made fun of midgets. And we shouldn’t forget that quite a number of modern undergraduates — and dons — still enjoy The Miller’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer.” He signed off the memo heroically: “I apologise sincerely — if not very profoundly.”

Jack Good was born in Greenford, now in London in 1931. His father, Bob, was a piano salesman for the Aeolian Company in Bond Street, where his mother, Amy, also worked, as a secretary. Yet he was drawn to the theatre rather than the concert hall. At Trinity Grammar School in Wood Green he directed productions of Twelfth Night and Othello, and went on to study at the London Academy of Music and Drama. After National Service in the RAF, he read English literature at Balliol College, Oxford, where he served as president of the dramatic society.

After graduating he appeared on the West End stage and worked in a comedy double act at the Windmill Theatre with Trevor Peacock, who was to become his scriptwriter on Six-Five Special. By then he had married Margit Tischer, a German student he had met while living at Toynbee Hall in Whitechapel, east London, where she worked as a cook. He was among a group of students undertaking social work. With a family on the way, he abandoned the stage for more secure employment as a trainee producer at the BBC. The couple had four children: Alexander, who became an architect; Gabriella, Bunky (Daniella) and Andrea. Bunky predeceased him. He is survived by the other three children and ten grandchildren. His marriage to Margit was dissolved in 1987, which Good blamed on his drinking habits.

After Oh Boy! he made further shows for ITV including Boy Meets Girls, which finally enabled him to introduce American rockers such as Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent to a British audience. He then moved to the US, where he reproduced the success of Oh Boy! for the ABC network with a programme called Shindig!. All of the biggest British groups, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones appeared on the show. When ABC expressed nervousness about his booking of black artists such as Ike & Tina Turner, he threatened to report the network to the attorney general, Bobby Kennedy. He got his way, but walked out in 1965.

He returned to the theatre to produce a musical about Elvis, Catch My Soul, a musical adaptation of Othello that starred Jerry Lee Lewis and, later, PJ Proby, and Good Rockin’ Tonite, another musical based loosely on his own life.

A convivial soul, Good was sometimes wilfully eccentric. For some years he lived in the desert near Albuquerque, New Mexico where he talked about becoming a priest, dressed in monkish robes and decorated the walls of local churches with murals, including one that portrayed the television as the Devil. He returned to Britain in 2001, spending his final years living quietly with Alexander at a farmhouse in Oxfordshire.

His conversion to Catholicism reflected a later disenchantment with rock’n’roll. “I thought, ‘What have I done? I have destroyed and corrupted the youth of this country and corrupted myself too. I have failed because I have not done anything useful to improve people’s lives.’ ” While he may have voiced doubts about his career, such dark thoughts were always punctured by lighter moments. “Rock’n’roll is like whisky,” he once observed. “You don’t think of it as having much value, but boy is it fun sometimes.”

Jack Good, television producer, was born on August 7, 1931. He died on September 24, 2017, aged 86
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Re: Jack Good - Mr "Oh Boy!"

Postby Moderne » Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:42 pm

Clarry wrote:I really like The Rapier's tribute song "Jack's Good". Captures the early 60s sound very well.

Jack's Good was originally the B-side of The Krew Kats' Samovar single (from 1961) and was written by Brian Bennett! Brian once described the title as, "A good bit of creeping"! The second of the two drum breaks in the second middle 8 is one of the greatest moments in recorded sound...IMHO!!!
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Re: Jack Good - Mr "Oh Boy!"

Postby Iain Purdon » Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:57 pm

Yes, a link to the Krew Kats original has been posted on the previous page of this thread. Not only does Brian demonstrate his skills as a pre-Shadows drummer, giving us a foretaste of what would be his drum pattern for The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt, Licorice throws in a couple of pretty decent bass runs too.
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Re: Jack Good - Mr "Oh Boy!"

Postby GoldenStreet » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:22 am

Obit published in the Guardian...

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radi ... d-obituary

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Re: Jack Good - Mr "Oh Boy!"

Postby Clarry » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:26 pm

Moderne wrote:
Clarry wrote:I really like The Rapier's tribute song "Jack's Good". Captures the early 60s sound very well.

Jack's Good was originally the B-side of The Krew Kats' Samovar single (from 1961) and was written by Brian Bennett! Brian once described the title as, "A good bit of creeping"! The second of the two drum breaks in the second middle 8 is one of the greatest moments in recorded sound...IMHO!!!

My mistake! No wonder the early 60s sound is captured well.

Very interesting Times piece too, above. I never knew he went to the USA.
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Re: Jack Good - Mr "Oh Boy!"

Postby GoldenStreet » Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:24 am

It was Jack who initially guided Jet's solo recording career.

The authoritative sleeve notes are by Tony Barrow (before his time as the Beatles' press officer)...

JHJG.JPG (121.37 KiB) Viewed 2890 times

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