The Groundbreaking Rock and Roll Movie, “The T.A.M.I. Show”

On December 31, 1964, American International Pictures released The T.A.M.I. Show in theaters as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.” This early rock concert film gave rock and roll fans a snapshot of some of the biggest bands of the time and was groundbreaking.

“T.A.M.I.” stands for “Teenage Awards Music International,” although some promotional materials also used “Teen Age Music International.” But the important part of The T.A.M.I. Show is the music, filmed from the standpoint of the audience.  The technique made viewers feel like they were at the show recorded at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 28 and 29, 1964.

Below is the trailer for the film.

The general consensus is that James Brown gives his greatest filmed performance here, an outstanding display of passion and performing experience that made the Rolling Stones regret they had to follow him. But there are other highlights throughout the concert, including the 18-year-old Lesley Gore and a surprisingly loose performance by The Beach Boys.

Although producer Bill Sargent lost the rights to the film and it disappeared for decades, it is now available for your viewing on DVD (with extras) and with various performances on YouTube.  Below, James Brown performs “Please, Please, Please.”

Performers include Jan and Dean (over the credits), Chuck Berry, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Lesley Gore, The Beach Boys, Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas, The Supremes, The Barbarians, James Brown and The Famous Flames, and The Rolling Stones.

Artists are still making great music today, but it is hard to imagine people agreeing on so many great performers in one film now. So, travel back to another time, and check out the Rolling Stones closing the show, joined by others on the stage.

Some trivia tidbits: The opening credits list The Blossoms with the performers, but they are not introduced when they appear as the backing singers for Marvin Gaye (or when later they appear to encourage James Brown to return to the stage). The Blossoms were used to not getting credit, having recorded the 1962 hit “He’s a Rebel” without credit.

Also, future actress Teri Garr and future recording star Toni Basil appear as background dancers in the film, and singer Glen Campbell and musician Leon Russell played in the show’s backing band, The Wrecking Crew. Reportedly, filmmaker John Landis and future Partridge Family star David Cassidy, who were seventh grade classmates at the time, were in the audience for the show.

What are your favorite parts of The T.A.M.I. Show? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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