Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Farewell To A Grass Root and Gilligan's Creator

On successive days this week, we lost two people who played a role in shaping the world of pop culture of the 60s and the 70s: Rob Grill of The Grass Roots and TV producer Sherwood Schwartz. Rob died on Monday in an Orlando, FL hospital at the age of 67. He had been in a coma since sustaining a head injury several weeks earlier when he fell after suffering a stroke in California. On Tuesday, Sherwood passed away in his sleep due to natural causes. He was 94.

As the lead singer and bassist of The Grass Roots, Rob appeared on a string of hits through the late 60s and early 70s. Although they never had a #1 hit and only reached the top 10 on three occasions (Let's Live for Today, Midnight Confessions, and Sooner or Later), The Grass Roots were consistent. In fact, they set a Billboard record by remaining on the Hot 100 singles chart for over 300 consecutive weeks between 1967 and ’72. Even though I wasn't around during the Grass Roots' heyday, I've become a fan of their music thanks to oldies radio and the Internet.

After the Grass Roots split in the mid 70s, Rob released the 1979 solo album Uprooted (which featured contributions from several members of Fleetwood Mac). However, during the 60s nostalgia boom of the 80s, Rob reformed The Grass Roots and toured extensively up until recently. Rob is survived by his wife Nancy. Below is a The Grass Roots TV appearance from the early 70s in which they perform a medley of some of their biggest hits:

Depending on whom you ask, the name Sherwood Schwartz might cause someone to either smile or roll their eyes. It’s no secret that Gilligan’s Island or The Brady Bunch weren’t critical favorites. Hell, if you were to poll the average viewer and ask them to list their favorite sitcoms, neither show would likely get many mentions. However, there is something about both Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch which has caused them to live on in the memories of millions long after they went to rerun heaven and for that, much of the credit has to go to Sherwood Schwartz. Although neither show is currently running on the cable channels I get, I’d still watch them from time to time if they were.

The player below contains the opening and closing credits sequence to one of Sherwood Schwartz's lesser known productions, the sitcom It's About Time (which ran on CBS from 1966-1967). Just like his two most famous TV creations, this show also has a memorable theme song.


BeckEye said...

And with Betty Ford right before them, that makes three.

pjazzypar said...

When I hear "Midnight Confessions" I think about Melanie (Briget Fonda) in the film "Jackie Brown".

"The Brady Bunch" and "Gilligan's Island" will run in syndication forever. Both were pretty cheesy shows, but I watched them religiously :-) I have one burning question. How could all the guest stars get on and off of the island with ease, but never the castaways???

Malcolm said...

BeckEye: You are right. Because Betty Ford grew up in Michigan, her death got a lot of coverage here. It was cool to see the amount of love and respect people had for her. Regular people from various parts of the country came to Grand Rapids to pay their respects.

Pjazzy: I need to see "Jackie Brown" again. Because it was so long ago and I only saw it once, I barely remember anything about it.

As for your burning question, I think the answer is either poor writing or a combo of smart guest starring characters/stupidity amongst the castaways. :-)

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