Wednesday, October 09, 2013

LOUIS NYE - TEENAGE BEATNIK

And here's a little salute to the (quite) late Louis Nye, who died on October 9, 2005. I had a little bit of corrrespondence with him, with some mutual respect, although I don't think "Teenage Beatnik" is anything he'd be remembered for. But this is a music blog, and it does try to specialize in obscure novelties. Nye's two solo albums were mostly spoken word…and one of them mostly keyed to his "Gordon Hathaway" character, the "mad man" ad exec of Madison Avenue.

Louis (May 1, 1913 – October 9, 2005) made a name for himself on Steve Allen's old "Tonight Show," with the artificially bright, foolishly full of himself and somewhat minty "Gordon Hathaway" character. As Gordon, Nye coined the fey greeting, "Hi-ho, Steverino."

For the next 40 years, fans would call out to Steve that way, and many an article affectionately referred to him as "Steverino" as well. But if you can find kinescopes or DVDs of Steve's show, you'll see that Nye, along with regulars Don Knotts and Tom Poston, were much more than the "Men in the Street" segment. They played a wide range of characters and were very much adept at physical comedy, too. Aside from Gordon Hathaway, Nye's most famous role was "Sonny Drysdale," the pretentious and pampered son of a banker on "The Beverly Hillbillies."

As for "Teenage Beatnik," it's hard to figure who was supposed to buy this thing. It was insulting to teenagers and to beatniks, and it's faux-rock music couldn't possibly be that amusing to the middle-aged middle-of-the-road crowd. And where would they hear it, since the soft music stations of that era were playing nothing but Mantovani, and the Top 40 stations wouldn't dream of alienating the teen audience by tossing it on the turntable. Nye's also using his comic-effeminate voice, which is neither teenage nor beatnik. (I'm not sure if he ever performed this on TV...or dressed the way I've Photoshopped him!) No wonder it's hard to find anywhere but here.

LOUIS NYE as the... Teenage Beatnik

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