Rockin’ TV Stars: Just The Facts, Ma’am!

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A little over a week ago my partner on the blog posted an item about the great music he’s heard on a TV show.  That’s great, I told him, but he happens to be misguided – very little good music has ever come from television.  “Hawaii Five O” by the Ventures, the “Twilight Zone” theme and possibly Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” notwithstanding, TV theme songs just don’t cut it most of the time.

We can maybe argue over that one for hours in a bar somewhere.  But I am certain of one thing: no TV star has EVER produced good music.  I think there is something that happens to a person who gets to act on a regular television series, something down in the DNA that dies and they simply CANNOT produce a listenable piece of music.  Why on earth would they want to do that? you may ask.  These actors already have a day job, you say.  Well that apparently hasn’t stopped them.  So, here for your perusal, are a handful of truly atrocious musical selections by well-known TV personalities, selected and produced in that strange land we must call … The Twilight Zone.

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Cheryl Ladd

Cheryl Ladd – This young lady joined the cast of “Charlie’s Angels” in 1977 replacing Farrah Fawcett, after Farrah played on the show for all of one season.  Cheryl ably filled Farrah’s shoes (and bikini, thank you) until the show was cancelled in 1981.  “I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again” was Ms. Ladd’s big shot at the Top 40 in 1978, and needless to say, it didn’t even come close.  If it sounds familiar, however, that’s because it was recorded the next year by a real singer (Dionne Warwick) and naturally that version was huge.

MP3: “I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again” by Cheryl Ladd

Mr. T – Quick, a little trivia: What is Mr. T’s catchphrase, and where did it originate?  “I pity the fool!”  That part was easy, but it didn’t come from the actor’s role on the 1980s TV show “The A Team.”  It actually came from the movie Rocky III (1982), where Mr. T played Clubber Lang, the latest threat to champ Rocky Balboa.  In 1984, at the peak of his 15 minutes of fame, Mr. T cut a rap album and here we have the title, ah, tune.

MP3: “Mr. T’s Commandments” by Mr. T

Buddy Ebsen – You may know him as Jed Clampett, but connoisseurs of Bad TV love Buddy as the star of “Barnaby Jones,” a TV detective series from the late 1970s-early 1980s.  The damn thing lasted seven years on CBS (just two years shy of the “Hillbillies” run), and taking that into consideration, his version of a Hank Williams classic ain’t so bad.

MP3: “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Buddy Ebsen

Chris Burke – This actor has Down’s syndrome, a genetic condition that causes lower than average cognitive problems and some developmental problems.  But the producers of the 1990s show “Life Goes On” thought Burke would be great playing the character Corky Thatcher as a retard, and so you have it.  It was critically acclaimed, particularly for calling attention to real people with Down’s syndrome.  Anyway, Burke appears in this little public service ditty, inexplicably billed on the record as “Corky Burke.”

MP3: “Eating Is Fun, Eating Is Serious” by Chris Burke and some other guys

And now a word from our sponsor: TV stars make records that suck, so why don’t they make them do the commercials?  No – the commercials have music provided by real musicians.  Remember when they used the Beatles’ “Revolution” in a Nike ad?  Bob Dylan crooning for Victoria’s Secret?  To be fair, these songs weren’t written specifically for commercials, but couldn’t they have gotten Don Johnson or Telly Savalas or Corey Feldman to do a few ads?  Guess not.

MP3: “Rubber Bands and Bits of String” by Telly Savalas

MP3: “Former Child Actor” by Corey Feldman

Jack Webb

Jack Webb

Jack Webb – Ever seen “Dragnet”?  Classic TV series.  Check it out on DVD or on “TV Land.”  Jack Webb was a decent actor, a fine writer and talented producer.  As a musical performer, well, let’s say nobody’s ever going to forget about Otis Redding.

MP3: “Try A Little Tenderness” by Jack Webb

Ted Knight – This guy made a buttload of TV shows until he finally hit it in 1970 with “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”  He wasn’t the star (that would be Mary Tyler Moore) but in the role of vain TV anchorman Ted Baxter, he was the focal point of the show.  Knight won two Emmy Awards in the role and after that show’s run ended he played a dad of two adult chicks in “Too Close For Comfort.”  Knight died in 1986, but not before he capitalized on his “MTM Show” catchphrase.

MP3: “Hi Guys” by Ted Knight

Well, I can’t take too much more of this, so let’s cut to the chase.  Meaning, the worst.

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy -Honestly, their acting careers should have ended after three seasons of “Star Trek” on TV, but no: the thing became a fucking franchise, and these two guys were movie stars and now they are Beloved American Entertainers.   Does that pretty much sum it up?  They must have both had agents who were serious ass-kissers, because they both thought people would enjoy their music.  Nimoy butchers the Joni Mitchell classic and the less said about Shatner, the better.  Holy Jesus.

MP3: “Both Sides Now” by Leonard Nimoy

MP3: “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by William Shatner

Believe it or not, there’s a Part 2 to this.  Coming when I can keep from throwing up!

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