Thursday, January 21, 2010

"We're rockin' out the door!"

Back in the early 1980's, cable TV was still a new thing that not a lot of people had, but we were one of the few. In fact, it was our only major luxury. We ended up watching more movies and comedy specials than network TV shows. This was when the box on top of the TV held only about 27 channels, and not all of them were filled up.

One of the local channels in Tacoma began to broadcast a half-hour music-video show called "The Rock Show", and they'd show the hard-rock and heavy-metal videos of the day (Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Quiet Riot, Rainbow, etc.) with an occasional nod to The Doors and Jimi Hendrix. The show was hosted by a guy named Henry J, a long-haired guy who wore jeans, and a black vest over white shirtsleeves. Just a cool, laid-back rocker guy, who always announced at the end of the show, "We're rockin' out the door!".

How local? The show beamed out of the local cable place that was only five blocks from the house, and the show went out live. My Dad met Henry J while paying the cable bill one day, and I remember him taking me to visit the studio where they shot the show. Sure looked a lot bigger than on the TV! It was around my seventh birthday, and I was given a mylar Pac-Man balloon that happened to be floating around there.

My Dad and his brother were aspiring cartoonists, and began drawing up posters for the show, featuring caricatures of Ted Nugent, Mick Jagger, Cheech & Chong, Journey, and even Henry J himself. Next thing we know, both of them were invited to make a couple of appearances on the show, showing their posters. Very cool!

All good things come to an end, and in October of 1983, we heard "The Rock Show" was going off the air, and we were all invited to be on the final show. I remember getting to introduce Henry J back to the show after a commercial-break, and noticing the microphone was way heavier than the one I played with at home. At the end of the show, the whole lot of us gathered in front of the camera to say goodbye, and I remembered to shout out the show's tagline: "We're rockin' out the door!"

There was a small effort to get the show back on the air some months later, and some T-shirts were made at a place over in Fife and autographed by Henry J at our house, but nothing happened.

Unfortunately, all of this happened six months before we got a VCR (again, we were the first ones on the block to have one), so this moment was lost to posterity. But, my best friend James Gardiner saw it when it went out live, so that was always good enough for me.

It was my first taste of show-biz, and I would never forget it.

UPDATE: October 1, 2011:

I was doing a little investigation and research into where I could perhaps find any tapes of the show. I contacted City Cable 12, who gave me the contact info for a guy who is currently the production manager for Comcast, but who was also in the production team for "The Rock Show" and other programming for Group W Cable back then. He told me that they operated on such a tight budget that they re-used videotapes over and over and over until they wore them out, and then tossed them. And so, there is officially nothing in the archives to be seen, and the moment is forever lost.


Mike Figliola said...

I am very sad to read that all the tapes are gone friend and I both named Mike we're on the show once...we called it the M and M show...Henry J let us announce a few videos. I wish so bad there was a copy somewhere.... It was a big thrill from childhood. We must have been about 14 or so. I was searching the Internet to see what's out there from the Rock Show. I wonder where Henry J is today. Do you know? Feel free to call me to share stories.


Shades Below said...

Thanks for leaving a comment. No, I have no idea whatever became of Henry J...hopefully he continued on in the music business, like on the radio or something like that. Also, check out this followup blog: