The Clay Cole Show

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The Clay Cole Show
Cole (left) with The Isley Brothers in 1962
Also known asRate the Records
Talent Teens
Teen Quiz
The Record Wagon[1]
Clay Cole's Discotek[2]
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 1959 (1959-09) –
December 16, 1967 (1967-12-16)

The Clay Cole Show (1959–1967) was an American rock music television show based in New York City, hosted by Clay Cole.


First broadcast on WNTA-TV (now WNET) in September 1959 as Rate the Records, within two months the format was changed, and an hour-long Saturday-night show was added. In the summer months, the show was expanded to an hour, six nights a week, live from New Jersey's Palisades Amusement Park, where Chubby Checker first performed and danced "The Twist".[1][3] In 1963, the show moved to WPIX-TV, where for five years it was successful, thanks to first-time guest appearances of the Rolling Stones (on a program with one other guest act – the Beatles), Neil Diamond, Dionne Warwick, Simon & Garfunkel, Richie Havens, Tony Orlando, Blood, Sweat & Tears and the Rascals.[1][2] On the WPIX version's first few months, it was titled Clay Cole at the Moon Bowl and was taped at the Bronx-based amusement park Freedomland U.S.A.. For the first WPIX edition, his guests were Lionel Hampton, Bobby Darin, and Joey Dee and the Starlighters.[4]

In 1965 the show was renamed Clay Cole's Discotek.[2] Clay produced a full hour with just one guest, Tony Bennett. Clay's all-star, ten-day Christmas Show in 1960 at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater holds the all-time box-office record for that theater.[5][6]

Cole was the first to introduce stand-up comics such as Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Fannie Flagg to a teen audience.[1][3] He was the first to produce a full hour of all-black performers, his historic Salute to Motown.[1][3] Unlike other teen music show hosts, Cole danced to the music he played on his shows; he was also unafraid to book lesser-known performers.[1][3][7]

In December 1967, at the height of his show's popularity, Cole left the show and moved to then-NBC-owned-and-operated station WKYC in Cleveland. He was reportedly unhappy with the shift in pop music to psychedelic acid rock and heavy metal.[1][3] The final edition of his program in New York aired on December 16, 1967. He hosted the first half hour, featuring live guests Paul Anka and Bobby Vee and a film performance from the Beatles. In the second half hour, he introduced the host that replaced him on WPIX: Canadian singer Peter Martin.[8]

His memoir of the early years of rock and roll and live television, Sh-Boom! The Explosion of Rock 'n' Roll (1953-1968) has been published by Morgan James.[9][10] Cole died on December 18, 2010.[1][2][3][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Grimes, William (December 24, 2010). "Clay Cole, Host of Teenage Dance Shows, dies at 72". New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d Grimes, William (December 26, 2010). "Clay Cole; hosted teen show that drew rising musical stars". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Hinckley, David (December 21, 2010). "Clay Cole, legendary 1960s rock 'n' roll teen guru who introduced Rolling Stones, dies at almost 73". New York City, New York, United States: Daily News. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  4. ^ Messina, Matt (July 18, 1963). "News Around the Dials: Taylor Show Dumped". Daily News. New York City, New York, United States. Retrieved December 27, 2023.
  5. ^ "Clay Cole and the Paramount Theater". Brooklyn Music. August 3, 2009. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  6. ^ "Brooklyn Paramount". New York Theater Organ Society. Archived from the original on January 26, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  7. ^ Weintraub, Bernard (February 16, 2003). "Pioneer of a Beat Is Still Riffing for His Due". New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  8. ^ Messina, Matt (December 11, 1967). "News Around the Dials: Canadian to Host TV Show". Daily News. New York City, New York, United States. Retrieved December 27, 2023.
  9. ^ Hinckley, David (December 3, 2009). "City traffic reports are cutting through the gridlock". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  10. ^ Cole, Clay; Hinckley, David, eds. (2009). Sh-Boom!:The Explosion of Rock 'n' Roll (1953-1968). Morgan James. pp. 318. ISBN 978-1-60037-639-9. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  11. ^ - accessed December 2010

External links[edit]