Wailin’ In The Rumpus Room With Hugh Hefner

Wailin’ In The Rumpus Room With Hugh Hefner


This is weird.  No doubt many a budding rock’n’roller has sneaked a peak at his dad’s Playboy magazines over the years, but no matter how you frame it, Playboy impresario Hugh Hefner was never, in anybody’s wildest dreams,  a rock’n’roll guy. Sure he pushed the boundaries of taste one way, but he seemed so damned conservative in about every other. He even smoked a pipe!! But for a few years in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Hef, together with his young girlfriend Barbi Benton, hosted some of the hairiest and most uncouth rockers around on the long-running variety show Playboy After Dark. Each band performed live, surrounded by immaculately tailored young swingers, on a set that looked like something out of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. And Hef would even chat with the artists – some bizarre conversations were had for sure! It was a real clash of cultures, and what’s even weirder is that, for the most part, the more unruly and unkempt the artist, the more it seemed likely they’d appear on the show! Dope smokin’ country-rock longhairs  - including the Grateful Dead and Doug Sahm’s crazy Tex-Mex outfit the Sir Douglas Quintet - seemed to be Hef’s favourites. Maybe Hefner had an affinity for outsiders and those trying to break convention; he even had James Brown on, doing “Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud’. That was pretty cutting edge for the time.  Anyway, there is some fantastic and unique footage here, so put your bunny ears on and get ready to get down.

Oh and no we’re not going to show you the Cowsills’ appearance on Playboy After Dark. The Cowsills were, of course, the family band that inspired the creation of the Partridge Family, and featured Susan Cowsill, who was just 10 or 11 when she appeared on the show. That’s just a bit too wrong.

Fleetwood Mac “Rattlesnake Shake”  

Peter Green’s ode to masturbation perhaps found a perfect home here…

Joe Cocker “Hitchcock Railway” 

Joe and his Grease Band cut loose – and I think cut into Hef’s intro – with a great version of the track from Joe’s second album.

Deep Purple “Hush” 

Pre-metal Purple actually look like they could be Playboy’s house band. This was filmed within 8 months of the band forming and features original singer Rod Evans and originally bass player Nick Simper. What’s with the hair helmets on Simper, Ritchie Blackmore and drummer Ian Paice?? Jeepers...  

Ike & Tina Turner – jump to 4:48 for a chat, “Come Together” and “Proud Mary” 

Speaking of hair, Ike was always pretty shameless back in the day. Dig is early Beatles do here. Of course, Tina and the girls are immaculate. 

James Brown "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud"  

As mentioned, pretty amazing to see this on such a show. And ‘the kids’ dig it; some are even singing along by the end.

Buddy Miles  “Them Changes” / “Dream” 

More soul power from the great Buddy Miles. Super-funky and raucous live versions of two tracks from his great Them Changes album – the title track, and his killer version of the Allman Brother’s “Dreams”.

Linda Ronstadt “Long Long Time” 

A beautiful version, with future Eagle Bernie Leadon accompany Linda on acoustic guitar.  Linda was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Female Vocal Performance for this track.

The Byrds “You Aint’ Goin’ Nowhere” / “This Wheel’s On Fire” 

A surprisingly well informed interview with Roger McQuinn and Hef followed by a couple of Dylan covers from the short-lived post Sweethearts of the Rodeo line up featuring the great Clarence White on lead and Gene Parsons on drums.

Canned Heat “Turpentine Moan” / “On the Road Again” 

This is fantastic. In betwixt songs, Hef gets Bob ‘the Bear’ Hite to explain the band’s name (it’s a type of campfire fuel which was a source of cheap alcohol in the early blues time) and then gets super-collector, Hite, talking about his collection of 15,000 blues and jazz ‘78’s and lets him ramble. And the band – featuring the two original principals in Hite and Alan ‘Bind Owl’ Wilson – are smokin’.


Sir Douglas Quintet “Mendocino” 

The coolest of the cool. And so out of place on this set, but ‘the kids’ really dig it.



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