Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bob Crane - Drums Along the Radio Studios

Bob Crane playing drums in his dressing room on
the set of Hogan's Heroes. Wherever Crane went,
his drums went with him.

If you were living in Southern California between the years 1956 and 1965, you most likely tuned into The Bob Crane Show over KNX during the morning drive-time hours. More often than not, Crane would play drums along with various records, and the louder and faster the song, the better! Academy Award-winning producer and acclaimed public speaker "Toastmaster General" George Jessel once said to Bob during a KNX interview, "I'm fascinated by what you're doing - just what it is that you're doing, I don't know. But I've never seen so much action in my life. Drums, and he's got all sorts of things over his ears, and concoctions. He looks like...I'm trying to think of what he looks like." Musician Pat Boone, also in the studio that day, added, "He looks like an astronaut" (regarding Crane's headset), after which Jessel joked, "Either that, or a Jew who has gone mad!" (To listen to this interview, click here.)

KNX staff who worked with Crane have equated watching his show to watching a spectator sport. He was non-stop, grabbing for a record, playing a tune, drumming along with that tune, going right into a commercial and from there into a skit, then back to the commercial again. Further, he could locate a specific track within any given album with split-second accuracy, just in time to insert that 3-second cough or voice or other gimmick before moving on to the next thing. This was before cassette tapes and long before digital media. He had to know and locate each track precisely - which he did.

It was not unusual for Bob to have a set of drums with him in the KNX studios. He had worked his drumming into his radio programs on the East Coast, and later, as an actor, he would keep a drum set in his dressing rooms. For the nine years he spent at KNX, however, his drumming was a show staple.

In this clip, Bob drums along with a classic tune from My Fair Lady, "Get Me to Church on Time," performed by Van Alexander and the Band. Crane's drumming comes through loud and clear, and this is a terrific example of his ability to incorporate his musicianship into his radio program. Unfortunately, there are a few seconds of "dead air" toward the end, but it comes back fairly quickly. Enjoy!

"Get Me to Church on Time" from My Fair Lady
Van Alexander and the Band (Bob Crane on Drums)
The Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 9, 1962