Remembering Radio Legend ‘Murray the K’ in 1965 Rock Concert Special

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Famed New York disc jockey “Murray The K” (Murray Kaufman) became known as “The Fifth Beatle” when he befriended John, Paul, George and Ringo during the British Invasion of the 1960s. In addition to presenting all-star rock and soul concerts at the historic Brooklyn Fox Theater, Murray The K hosted a legendary star-studded 1965 special, It’s What’s Happening Baby. The show featured live, onstage performances by some of the greatest soul, rock and R&B artists of the 20th century.

Related: The Who and Cream made their U.S. debuts on a Murray-hosted show

The long-unseen landmark program was presented in 2021 for the first time in more than half a century by veteran public television producer TJ Lubinsky, creator of the My Music specials on PBS. It’s What’s Happening Baby was newly restored from original video and audio master tapes and is available on DVD. The groundbreaking program was the brainchild of Kaufman, who had given many of the greatest African-American performers their breakthrough in his staged concerts and radio shows.

He then fought to present that powerful pool of talent, including many of the bright soul-pop stars of Motown, on It’s What’s Happening Baby. The once-in-a-lifetime special was originally commissioned by the U.S. government’s Office of Economic Opportunity as part of the war on poverty, encouraging American youth to seek summer employment while out of school.

The Ronettes with New York disc jockey Murray the K (Murray Kaufman).

Featuring over a dozen artists—including Ray Charles, Dionne Warwick, the Righteous Brothers, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Johnny Rivers, the Miracles, Herman’s Hermits, the Temptations and Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles—It’s What’s Happening Baby proved a huge success when it first aired on June 28, 1965, on CBS, attracting over 20 million viewers. (Of special note is the fact that Mary Wilson of the Supremes shared her recollections of the show, of which she was part. She recorded her interview for the program on January 26, 2021. It was to be the very last interview she would ever give as she passed away just 13 days later.)

Dionne Warwick recalls about Kaufman, “He was the man! To be part of a Murray The K show was the thing to be.” Little Anthony adds, “He was a real showman. Everybody fell in love with him.”

It’s What’s Happening Baby performances include:
Nowhere To Run – Martha & The Vandellas
Walk On By – Dionne Warwick
Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter – Herman’s Hermits
Pride & Joy – Marvin Gaye
Land Of 1,000 Dances – Cannibal & The Headhunters
You’ll Never Walk Alone – Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles
I’m Alright – Little Anthony & The Imperials
Be My Baby – The Ronettes
I Don’t Want To Cry – Chuck Jackson
My Guy – Mary Wells
The Seventh Son – Johnny Rivers
The Way You Do The Things You Do – The Temptations
Count Me In – Gary Lewis & The Playboys
Up On The Roof – The Drifters
Stop! In The Name Of Love – The Supremes
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling – The Righteous Brothers
I Can’t Help Myself – Four Tops
Ooo Baby Baby – The Miracles
What’d I Say – Ray Charles

Watch a five-minute trailer for It’s What’s Happening Baby

“Murray the K” was born in New York on Feb. 14, 1922. He had just turned 60 when he died of cancer in Los Angeles on Feb. 21, 1982.

Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

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  1. RecordSteve
    #1 RecordSteve 25 February, 2021, 22:42

    Thanks TJ looking forward to the Murray the K Concert Show on PBS = love the work you do to keep rock & roll oldies alive. Kudos to Best Classic Bands team for keeping us in the know.

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  2. Timflyte
    #2 Timflyte 27 February, 2021, 01:10

    I just got this tv show as a bonus dvd when I ordered the complete Shindig. Hullabaloo & Shivaree Tv shows on dvd.
    One interesting thing about the Murray The K show, most of the pop acts just mimed to the records, the R&B & soul acts were live performances. Its a interesting show w a few skits thrown in.

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  3. Da Mick
    #3 Da Mick 6 March, 2021, 04:43

    Yeah, but if only Lubinsky didn’t have to talk,,,,,,

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