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As a child during the late 1960s and 1970s, the magical world of music caught my attention immediately, but outlets to find musical sources were extremely limited. My ears were always thirsting to hear something new, thus I would gravitate towards any form of media that related to my affinity for music. The next toy I acquired on my musical quest to further my pre-pubescent musical experience was the GAF View-Master. This was my very first experience into the world of 3D. The device was nothing fancy in and of itself, but the three-dimensional round discs allowed me to “view” some of my favorite shows at will, which was an impossibility back then. It enabled the opportunity for me to watch stills of the Partridge Family, the Monkees and the Brady Bunch on demand, often playing their records as a soundtrack in the background and pretending I was attending a concert. This was yet another attempt to immerse myself into the world of some of my favorite musical artists. The Partridge Family and The Monkees always featured music, which was the most important element of the shows to me, but The Brady Bunch began to incorporate music as well. Yes, The Brady kids dabbled in music with record albums and musical variety television specials, and I had to seize any limited means possible to allow musical access.
The GAF View-Master transported my musical experience into the third dimension
Everyone remembers “I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family and “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees, but don’t forget that The Brady Bunch delivered endearing pop nuggets such as “It’s a Sunshine Day,” “Keep On” and “Time to Change.” Again, I remind you, I was very young, and desperate to cleave onto any morsel of musical entertainment I could wrap my eyes and ears around. Today’s generation has no idea just how extremely limited opportunities for musical consumption were back in the late 60s and early 70s. There were no such things as the Internet, downloading, streaming, pay-per-view, or on demand. So, my GAF View-Master was one of very few options I had to see “live” performance shots of The Partridge Family and The Monkees at will, or to join The Brady Bunch for a recording session or hop on board for the Bradys' trip to the Grand Canyon. After all, The Brady Bunch had ventured into the musical realm, as far as I was concerned.
Next, I ventured into what I considered to be a full-fledged foray into multimedia. One year for Christmas I’d asked Santa Claus to bring me Kenner’s Give-A-Show Projector, and to my delight, he happily obliged. I’d lie in my bed every night and project some of my favorite cartoon character’s images upon my bedroom wall and ceiling. I’d stay up well past my bedtime (unbeknownst to my parents) and produce my own private slide shows and concerts starring The Archies, Josie and the Pussycats, H.R. Pufnstuf and The Scooby-Doo Show. Most people don’t remember this, but Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! often featured songs that would play in the background as the Scooby gang hysterically chased ghosts and ghouls. My slide show projector became my bedtime companion and official adolescent night light for many of my formative years.
My Give-a-Show projector turned my bedroom into a nightly theater.
I’d also excitedly arise early every Saturday morning to sit by the television with my inexpensive but reliable Realistic tape recorder from Radio Shack as my companion. I still remember crossing my fingers and hoping no one would noisily come crashing through the room while I was recording, as the small but sensitive built-in microphone would pick up anything within its vicinity. I’d record all the songs from each week’s episode of my favorite cartoon/musical shows including H.R. Pufnstuf and The Krofft Supershow.
H.R. Pufnstuf was Sid and Marty Krofft’s live-action children's series starring Jack Wild as the main protagonist, Jimmy, alongside his unusually friendly dragon companion. The weekly series also featured Billie Hayes as the dastardly foil, Witchiepoo. Only seventeen episodes were produced, but it stayed in rotation on Saturday mornings from 1969-1972. The Sid and Marty Krofft spectacle also featured musical numbers in nearly every episode, which resulted in the spawning of a soundtrack record. The soundtrack was a 7-inch EP, but it contained ten songs. It was basically a mini-album pressed as a 45-rpm record. I’ll never forget my excitement the day it arrived in the mail, as it was a mail-order-only item, which you could only get after collecting a specific number of cereal box tops. The marketing department obviously knew what they were doing, because that live-action cartoon, along with its mini-album soundtrack stayed persistently imprinted upon my memory even as I matured into adulthood.
My childhood Saturday mornings revolved around musical Sid & Marty Krofft shows.
The Krofft Supershow was a children’s variety show created by Sid and Marty Krofft (after their tenure with Hanna-Barbera's Banana Splits), which included the children's programs Dr. Shrinker, Wonderbug, and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. In between the shows, songs were performed by the pseudo-rock band Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, which funnily featured a very young Michael Lembeck, who ventured onto a successful television career directing episodes of several hit shows including Mad About You, Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond.