IT’S WHAT’S HAPPENING BABY
AFTER 55 YEARS HIS GROUND-BREAKING ALL-STAR 1965 MUSIC CELEBRATION AIRS ON APRIL 1 AT 8:30 PM ON WNET/13
Murray The K (Kaufman) was, arguably, the most celebrated New York disc jockeys, later known as “air personalities,” of the 1960s with his top-rated “Swingin’ Soiree” show on 1010 WINS from 1958 to 1965. Thereafter, he pioneered the progressive FM rock format on WOR-FM, holding down a six-hour air shift every day of the week while serving as the station’s program director. In his first book The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, author Tom Wolfe called Murray “the original hysterical disc jockey.” He became known as “The Fifth Beatle” when he befriended John, Paul, George & Ringo during the musical British Invasion of the 1960s. In addition to presenting all-star rock and soul concerts at the Brooklyn Fox Theatre, Murray The K hosted a legendary star-studded special, It’s What’s Happening Baby to be telecast in New York for the first time in more than a half-century. The show featuring live, on-stage performances by some of the greatest soul, rock, and r&b artists of the 20th century debuts Thursday, April 1 at 8:30 PM on WNET/13, marking the first time that Murray The Ki, who died in 1982, will be back on the air in New York City in five decades.
The long-unseen landmark program is being presented by veteran public television producer TJ Lubinsky, creator of the hugely popular My Music specials on PBS. It’s What’s Happenin Baby has been newly-restored from original video and audio master tapes. Lubinsky commented. Lubinsky who is too young to have experienced Murray The K when he was a fixture on both radio and TV commented, “I heard about Murray The K for all of my life but until now I couldn’t be back in time with him.” The ground-breaking program was the brainchild of Kaufman, who had given many of the greatest African-American performers their breakthrough in his staged concerts and radio shows. He then fought to present that powerful pool of talent, including many of the bright soul-pop stars of Motown on It, ‘s What’s Happening Baby. The once-in-a-lifetime special was originally commissioned by the U.S. government’s Office of Economic Opportunity as part of the war on poverty, encouraging American youth to seek summer employment while out of school.
Featuring over a dozen iconic artists — including Ray Charles, Dionne Warwick, The Righteous Brothers, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Johnny Rivers, The Miracles, Herman’s Hermits, The Temptations, and Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles — It’s What’s Happening Baby proved to a huge success when it first aired on June 28, 1965, on CBS, attracting over 20 million viewers. Of special note is the fact that Mary Wilson of the Supremes shared her recollections of the show of which she was part. She recorded her interview for the program on January 26, 2021. It was to be the very last interview she would ever give as she passed away just 13 days after that nostalgic encounter.
Now, nearly 56 years later, many of the original musical artists appear in new segments, offering fond memories of working with Murray The K, who helped put rock and roll music into the mainstream during his days as one of the most influential radio personalities in New York during the 1950s and 1960s. Dionne Warwick recalls, “He was the man! To be part of a Murray The K show was the thing to be.” Little Anthony adds, “He was a real showman. Everybody fell in love with him.”
Link to view five minutes of excerpts from It’s What’s Happening Baby with performances by Ray Charles, The Drifters, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Herman’s Hermits, Chuck Jackson, Gary Lewis, and the Playboys, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Martha and the Vandellas, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Patti and the Bluebelles, Righteous Brothers, Johnny Rivers, The Ronettes, The Supremes, The Temptations, Dionne Warwick, Mary Wells:
Murray The K with The Ronettes
It’s What’s Happening Baby performances include:
Nowhere To Run – Martha & The Vandellas
Walk On By – Dionne W
Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter – Herman’s Hermits
Pride & Joy – Marvin Gaye
Land Of 1,000 Dances –Cannibal & The Headhunters
You’ll Never Walk Along – Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles
Be My Baby – The Ronettes
I Don’t Want To Cry – Chuck Jackson
My Guy – Mary Wells
The Seventh Son – Johnny Rivers
The Way You Do The Things You Do – The Temptations
Count Me In – Gary Lewis & The Playboys
Up On The Roof – The Drifters
Stop! In The Name Of Love – The Supremes
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling – The Righteous Brothers
I Can’t Help Myself – Four Tops
Ooo Baby Baby – The Miracles
What’d I Say – Ray Charles
Special thanks to Dennis Elsas for the loan of his RRBC card.
Thanks to Lila Vocci for modeling the height of MTK fashion