The Midnight Special was an American late-night musical variety series created and produced by Burt Sugarman that aired on NBC from February 2, 1973 to May 1, 1981. It originally aired as a 90-minute special encouraging young people to vote in the upcoming Presidential election.

The show was noted for featuring musical acts performing live, which was unusual since most television appearances during the era showed performers lip-synching to prerecorded music. As the program neared the end of its run in the early 1980s, it began to frequently use lip-synched performances rather than live ones.

Guest Stars

Some notable guest stars and hosts included:

  • ABBA
  • AC/DC
  • Aerosmith
  • Andy Gibb
  • America
  • Joan Baez
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Bee Gees
  • Chuck Berry
  • Blondie
  • David Bowie
  • Dr. Hook
  • Bread
  • Brooklyn Dreams
  • James Brown
  • The Cars
  • The Chambers Brothers
  • Ray Charles
  • Cheap Trick
  • Lou Christie
  • Petula Clark
  • Jim Croce
  • Billy Crystal
  • Bo Diddley
  • The Doobie Brothers
  • Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Electric Light Orchestra
  • Cass Elliot
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Peter Frampton
  • Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Genesis
  • Goldstar
  • Gladys Knight & The Pips
  • Al Green
  • Heart
  • Janis Ian
  • Wolfman Jack
  • The Jackson 5
  • Rick James
  • Billy Joel
  • Elton John
  • Journey
  • KC and the Sunshine Band
  • Andy Kaufman
  • B.B. King
  • Kiss
  • Kraftwerk
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Loggins & Messina
  • Barry Manilow
  • Steve Martin
  • Eddie Money
  • Van Morrison
  • Randy Newman
  • Olivia Newton-John
  • The New York Dolls
  • Ted Nugent
  • Dolly Parton
  • Prince
  • Richard Pryor
  • Helen Reddy
  • REO Speedwagon
  • Roxy Music
  • Diana Ross
  • T. Rex
  • Todd Rundgren
  • The Spinners
  • Steely Dan
  • Rod Stewart
  • Sugarloaf
  • Donna Summer
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • The Three Degrees
  • Thin Lizzy
  • Tina Turner
  • Village People
  • War
  • Weather Report
  • XTC
  • Gary Wright
  • Golden Earring

Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) had more appearances than any other band with four.

The show presented The 1980 Floor Show, the last performance of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust. It was broadcast on November 16, 1973, and was taped a month earlier from specially-commissioned performances at the Marquee Club in Soho, London.

Why It Rocks

  1. It featured live performances, which was very unique for its time.
  2. Entertaining hosts.
  3. Very well made live performances.
  4. The live performances work EXTREMELY well as music videos.

Bad Qualities

  1. In the early 1980's, the show began to frequently use lip-synched performances rather than live ones.


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