Thursday, February 2, 2012

Just a Formality

Eric recently called my attention to the following video of the Cowsills, appearing on The Mike Douglas Show, which he calls "off in so many ways":

What's wrong with it?

* It's the Cowsills covering "When I'm 64," which is a bad idea to begin with.

* Susan Cowsill, who was about 11 at the time, creepily touches Mike Douglas' cheek at one point.

* Susan doesn't know the words to the song, or at least she doesn't know all of them, and of the ones she does know, she doesn't know what order to sing them in.

* Although members of the Cowsills went on to surprisingly strong musical careers (John Cowsill was even in Tommy Tutone) and were famous for their onstage harmonies, here they sound like they're playing in the basement of a church after a Sunday night pancake supper.

But as Eric points out, the gang did one thing exceedingly right: They're wearing tuxes. This may be hard for some of you younger folks to imagine, but at one point, pop acts dressed for success.

Which brings up the question: When did pop music stars stop wearing formalwear onstage? The Jackson 5 busted out some classic threads in Jamaica circa 1978, although they seem to have lost their ties:

Rich Williams, the rhythm guitarist for Kansas, used to wear a tuxedo onstage; that was his shtick, a way to get noticed. But mostly it made him look like a guy whose prom date had stood him up, so he decided to spend the evening sitting in with the band instead:

So far as I know, Williams is the last pop star to regularly take the stage in formalwear. James Brown always dressed sharp, but he seems to have lost the black tie sometime in the late 1960s. Anyone else?


  1. B.B. King used to perform in a tux all the time, but even he has given that up with age (he's now seated for his shows).

    I think Angus Young deserves an honorable mention, too.