The Midnight Special

NBC (ended 1981)



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The Midnight Special

Show Summary

Welcome to The Midnight Special guide at The Midnight Special was a late-night rock music series airing Friday nights (or, to be more exact, early Saturday mornings). On most NBC affiliates, The Midnight Special followed "The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson."

For its first 8 seasons, The Midnight Special's time slot was from 1:00am to 2:30am. But when Johnny Carson cut "The Tonight Show" down from 90 to 60 minutes, The Midnight Special was moved up to the 12:30am-2:00am time slot.

NBC aired The Midnight Special's pilot on August 19, 1972. The pilot was presented as a 90-minute special encouraging young people to vote in the upcoming Presidential election. On February 2, 1973, The Midnight Special premiered as a weekly series. For most of its run, a different guest host was featured every week. (An exception to this was from July 1975 through March 1976 when Helen Reddy was the regular host.) Wolfman Jack, fresh from his role in "American Graffiti," was the series' announcer and a frequent guest host.

Around 1978, at the height of the Disco craze, the set was modified to resemble a Disco nightclub, complete with a platform dance floor. Wolfman Jack stood behind an elevated DJ booth. But by Fall 1979, as the genre's popularity waned, the disco set was gone.

During its last few seasons, The Midnight Special received criticism for not giving enough attention to the punk & new wave music of the late-1970s to early 1980s. While a few punk/new wave acts were presented (either as live guests or in music videos), the majority of musical guests continued to be MOR or disco acts.

Beginning April 11, 1980, The Midnight Special faced competition from ABC's "Fridays," a "Saturday Night Live" comedy series. Fridays' musical guests were often more cutting edge than those seen on The Midnight Special.

In May 1981, NBC replaced The Midnight Special with "SCTV Network 90," an expanded version of "Second City TV," previously a syndicated 30-minute series.

Helen Reddy

Helen Reddy

Host (July 1975 - March 1976) & frequent guest host

Wolfman Jack

Wolfman Jack

Announcer & frequent host

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  • Re Midnight Special was Great

    I too loved the Midnight Special, but it was not the only place to see popular music acts. There was also Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and ABCs In Concert, part of its Wide World of Entertainment.

    In Concert ran on ABC on Friday Night at 11:30 pm, then I would catch the Midnight Special at 1am
  • Midnight Special was great!

    The Midnight Special was the only outlet in the 1970s (and early 1980s) where one could get a glimpse at the popular singers and bands of the time. Before videos, the Midnight Special invited current (and former) stars to come and perform \"live\" in front of their audience. When I began watching, Wolfman Jack was the lead host, but before him, many singers hosted. It was the great to stay up late and see your favorites perform their standards!moreless

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