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John Milton Cage (September 5, 1912 August 12, 1992), perhaps the
most influential composer of the 20th century, taught that all sounds
represent music. Bands such as Pink Floyd took him to heart and did
their own experimentation along those lines. Before Pink Floyd there
was Spike Jones and His City Slickers who used everything from a Smith
& Wesson to a kitchen sink to make music. Spike also gained a
reputation for parodying the music he loved. His hayseed appearance
complemented his humor. He and the City Slickers looked the way they
His 1954 show for the new medium television showcased his talents and the talents of others such as Billy Barty and Spike's vivacious wife Helen Grayco. Although not listed in the credits, this viewer remembers that Spike's long time vocal associate Doodles Weaver, who was also a fine actor, appeared from time to time on the show.
One feature that made Spike's performances stand out was that he and his City Slickers were all exceptional musicians. Spike was a virtuoso on the drums but also played a mean Smith & Wesson. Today Spike is still one of the most requested songsters on the syndicated Dr. Demento radio program out of Culver City, California. The fun lives on.
TV Guide reported that Spike was going to downplay his celebrated "cement-mixer cacophony" and pretty-much play it straight on this series. But Spike's band was one of the best ever ... they had to be, to put their antics across ... and when they did get serious, we had one fabulous piece of mid-Fifties television! (Now and then, Spike did squeeze off a pistol shot, though.) There were Helen Grayco's great vocals, and Billy Barty got to sing a lot, too. Those were great days indeed to sit in front of the tube .....
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