Music HistoryTelevision

Remembering the weirdness of Playboy After Dark’s musical guests

When Hugh Hefner founded Playboy magazine in the late months of 1953, he envisioned it to be a journal of his interpretation of the playboy lifestyle. In addition to beautiful women, the magazine delved into food, drink, travel, gadgets, celebrity and music.

In 1969, Hefner convinced Screen Gems, the LA-based TV production company behind The Three Stooges, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Partridge Family (among many others) to create Playboy After Dark. Hef had tried something called Playboy’s Penthouse a decade earlier from WBKB-TV in Chicago which ran for 44 episodes.

Set in what appeared to be Hef’s penthouse during one of his parties (it was actually a soundstage at CBS Television City), the show was part talk show, part variety show.

During the program’s 52 episodes over two seasons (1969 and 1970), an insane parade of people showed up at Hef’s parties.

  • Fleetwood Mac, long before they had any kind of hit record.
  • James Brown
  • Steppenwolf
  • Three Dog Night
  • Iron Butterfly
  • An unknown California singer named Linda Ronstadt
  • Ike and Tina Turner

Check out Deep Purple showing Hef how to play “Hush.”

Tony Randall showed up on the same show as Grand Funk Railroad. Terrible miming.

And even the Grateful Dead showed up.

If you need more, there are two DVDs worth of the program. Thanks to Andy for the reminder.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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