Fridays On My Mind

April 17, 2009

Out of nowhere the other night, the show Fridays popped into my head and I was rather surprised to find it there. Fridays was a late-night, sketch comedy show that aired in the early ‘80s as a rival to the similar Saturday Night Live.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t really watch SNL until high school and haven’t watched it since the mid-’90s. The first show of its type which I was watching was Fridays (and, on occasion, Second City Television).

Of course, really the only thing that I could remember about Fridays was that Michael Richards had been a member of the cast and they had a lot of musical guests whom I was – at that time – mostly unfamiliar.

I did a bit of research and found that it aired for two seasons beginning in April of 1980. It had an interesting mix of guest hosts including George Carlin, Marty Feldman, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Madeline Kahn.

(if you had been in a relationship with Madeline, wouldn’t it have been impossible to not indiscriminately bellow “Kahn!!!” ala Shatner?)

Richards was, indeed, a cast member, notably involved in a strange prank with Andy Kaufman. and known for his recurring character Battle Boy, a hyperkinetic boy who finds new and creative ways to destroy his toy soldiers (fire was usually involved). Larry David, also instrumental to the success of Seinfeld, was in the cast, too (which I hadn’t remembered).

As for the musical guests…it’s a pretty compelling list of acts that wouldn’t have been getting much exposure on radio at the time in my part of the Midwest.

The Boomtown Rats, The Tubes, Devo, The Jam, The Plasmatics, Split Enz, Jim Carroll, Ian Hunter – all performed on the show.

There were also guests who were more mainstream and who, even though I was only beginning to care about music, I knew like Kenny Loggins, Journey, Tom Petty, The Cars, Pat Benatar, Eddie Money, Scandal and Quarterflash.

As I was transitioning from junior high to high school during Fridays ‘s run, I didn’t always get the humor, but I remember my friends and I being entertained by the show. Each episode was a source of banter for the next several days.

And it gave me the chance to hear some music and artists for the first time.

AC/DC – You Shook Me All Night Long
According to the Wikipedia entry on Fridays, AC/DC’s appearance on the show was the band’s American television debut with lead singer Brian Johnson following the death of Bon Scott. The mighty You Shook Me All Night Long was one of a number of classic AC/DC songs on Back In Black, their first album recorded with Johnson.

The Clash – Train In Vain (Stand By Me)
When The Clash were on Fridays in April, 1980, “the only band that matters” had recently released their album London Calling and the group had broken through on radio in the States with Train In Vain. It was one of the songs they performed on their first appearance on American TV.

Stray Cats – Rock This Town
Although Stray Cats’ Rock This Town wouldn’t be a hit on American radio until the autumn of 1982, the song had already been released in the UK a year earlier when the trio from Long Island performed it on Fridays. Like The Clash, their appearance served as Stray Cats’ introduction to television audiences in the US.

The Cars – Touch And Go credits The Cars with two appearances on Fridays. I do remember seeing them perform Touch And Go from their album Panorama. Moody and menacing, Touch And Go wasn’t one of The Cars’ biggest hits, but it’s always been a favorite of mine.