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Monday, January 25, 2010

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles perform on a "really big shue" for Ed Sullivan - March 31, 1968

Note: The archives of William "PoPsie" Randolph (1920 - 1978) are being researched extensively and digitized for prosperity.

The first book, "PoPsie: American Popular Music Through The Camera Lens of William "PoPsie" Randolph" has been published and is available at Amazon.com

In a long and prolific career spent haunting the recording studios, jam sessions, concert halls and nightclubs of New York City, Randolph chronicled the raucous postwar transformation of American Music -- from swing and jazz to rhythm & blues and rock & roll -- more vividly and more avidly, than any photographer of his era.

The 60,000 negatives left behind after his death in 1978 span the giddy, glitzy heyday of swing in the Forties, the hot and cool jazz subsequently spawned in the clubs of Fifty-Second Street, the rumbling emergence of black R&B and doo-wop and the sudden explosion of rock & roll in the late Fifties, the rise of Brill Building pop and the British invasion of the Sixties, and the growth of rock into a multibillion-dollar industry by the Seventies.

1968 would be a very turbulent year for America. Assassinations, The Vietnam war and the fallout from "The Summer of Love" were broadcast into living rooms all across the nation in the early part of the year. The one welcome spot on the dial was CBS and "The Ed Sullivan Show" which aired from 8-9 PM every Sunday night.

On March 31, "PoPsie" was on hand to photograph Smokey Robinson & The Miracles who were there to perform their latest hit "I Second That Emotion". Their smooth deliveries and timeless performance of their classic soothed the nerves of a nation that was struggling with a world that was rapidly shrinking before their eyes.

"PoPsie" captured Smokey and the Miracles backstage as they worked on their routine as well as their meticulous grooming standards in getting ready to perform for the millions who tuned in weekly. This was well before music videos and the Sullivan show was essentially the only way that mainstream America got to see acts like this without making a trip to NYC or any other large city.

The Sullivan show did very well in showcasing acts from various musical backgrounds from Broadway to R&B and everything in between. Motown Records had The Sullivan Show to thank for the popularity of most of it's acts and they were responsible for bridging the color gap on Television. The dream of equality was alive and well on The Sullivan Show.

Little did "PoPsie" and the rest of America realize that the dream of Martin Luther King and the fragile psyche of America would be shattered less than a week later on April 4th in Memphis, TN.