If anyone could be said to have invented the way in which pop music was presented on television, it was Jack Good, short hair, glasses, a graduate of Oxford, who created the fast-paced shows Six-Five Special for the BBC, Oh Boy! for the MOT, and the equally influential of the Party! for US the network. Well, who has died at the age of 86, he encouraged the public to be part of the show in a style that became a vital element of Ready Steady Go! and the Top of the Pops.
Unlike most of the middle-aged producers responsible for putting the beginnings of rock and roll on television, Well definitely not rather have been dealing with the tuxedoed singers of the swing era. “I prefer the vulgarity and excess of refinement, which has stifled British society,” he later wrote. In the middle of the decade of 1950, the era of the juke box and the teddy boy, he responded instinctively to the aesthetics of the new music, and understood the importance of the revolutionary culture that is fostered.
I was even willing to give way, such as when he gave the welcome to Gene Vincent to London in 1959, and concludes immediately that the singer’s homespun lumberjack shirt and blue jeans, did not reflect the latent threat of the man who sang ” be Bop A Lula with a sinister hiccup. The good new conception of Vincent as a rock ‘ n ‘ roll version of Laurence Olivier, Richard III, putting him in black leather from head to foot, including gloves, to go with the clamp of iron which he wore on a leg as a result of a motorcycle accident. When Vincent out on the stage, Well I was in the wings and is heard to encourage the singer to accentuate your wounded vulnerability with cries of “Limp, you bugger, limp!”
Beyond an instinct for detecting potential dramatic, Well, he had what the music industry would call big ears. Impressed when presented by a Tin Pan Alley song-shutter with a copy promo of a new single called Schoolboy Crush by an unknown artist called Cliff Richard, one day in 1958, he turned around to the disc, and expressed immediate enthusiasm for the B-side, a song called Move. When the record company responded by putting his weight behind it, the song became Richard’s first big hit, and one of only a handful of good-faith british classics of the first rock’n’roll of the time. “Cliff of the race hinged on that moment,” the historian Pete Frame, wrote in his masterful study of the period, Restless Generation. “However, it is possible that he has not dreamed of a fabulous mansion in Barbados, never mind a knighthood.”
Born in Hanwell, west London, and grew up in Palmers Green, in the north of the city, by his mother, Amy, and his father, Bob, a piano salesman for the Aeolian company of Bond Street (where Amy had worked as a secretary), Well she was educated in the county of Trinity grammar school, in the Green woods, and fell in love with the theater as a child. After national service in the RAF he went to Oxford, where, while studying philology, he was president of the university debate society and of the Balliol drama of the society.
On graduation, she moved to London, where a brief career on the stage as an actor and as part of a comedy duo ended when he got a job as a trainee producer at the BBC. After having seen the film Rock around the Clock in 1956, and to be dragged by the energetic response of the cinema audience, who already was not satisfied with the kind of passive response is in the theatre. In 1957 he persuaded the corporation to accept the idea of a Saturday night pop show called Six-Five Special and then filled with the soil of the study with young listeners, creating the atmosphere of a teen hop as they jived to the Vipers or Tommy Steele.
Lord Rockingham’s XI, the house band on the ITV show Oh Boy!, 1958, with the show’s producer, Jack Good, second from right, wearing glasses. Photograph: V&A Images/Getty Images
In 1958 he was on his way to ITV, where Richard was reserved for Oh Boy!, as Marty Wilde, Billy Fury – by which is produced a memorable album, The Sound of Fury (1960) – and a house band called Lord Rockingham’s XI. The show was recorded at the Hackney Empire every Saturday morning and conveyed that night, competing directly against the Six-Five Special, which is quickly becoming obsolete. Good worked hard with the singers in their presentation, mouldings Richard as a “quiet smoulderer”, teaching how to walk with the legs apart, slightly sideways in the camera, with his head down and his eyes looking upward, lip moodily curled, grabbing his arm in the moments of emotional intensity.
Oh Boy! it lasted a year. Good followed in 1959 with the Boy meets Girls, also for ITV, in which Marty Wilde and the Vernons Girls were the performers, despite the fact that he broke the format with a show devoted to the compositions of the songwriters Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, who flew in from New York. At the same time that the show was made in 1960 by the Well-produced Wham!, among which included Fury, Joe Brown and Jess Conrad.
Well he also wrote a column for Disc, a weekly music paper, in which he argued persuasively the merits of hide new records of the united states, some of which – like Gene Chandler Duke of Earl Bruce Channel Hey Baby (who inspired John Lennon’s harmonica playing on Love Me Do) – became hits. As a record producer, he oversaw Karl Denver hit Wimoweh.
In 1962, he moved to New York, where he worked for a time as an actor. Two years later, he was in Los Angeles, where he appeared in the films Father Goose (1964), with Cary Grant and Trevor Howard, and Strange bedfellows (1965) with Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida. In Hollywood created Party!, reproduction of your family member the format of the TV, in a show that lasted for a year from 1964 on the ABC network, featuring a remarkable list of artists, including the Beatles, James Brown, the Beach Boys, the Supremes, the Animals, Bo Diddley, the Everly Brothers, Marvin Gaye, Manfred Mann and the Shangri-Las. The show featured a female of a dance company, the Shindiggers, and a backing band, the Shindogs, which consists of the best young Hollywood session musicians, including Leon Russell on piano, Billy Preston on the organ, and Glen Campbell on guitar.
Jack Good, and the singer Sylvia McNeill, in 1969. Photo: Blackbrow/ANL/Rex/Shutterstock
Back in Britain he was invited by Brian Epstein to produce Around the Beatles (1964), a show for Rediffusion TV incorporation of special guests. One of them, an unknown singer called himself PJ Proby, was brought from California to make an appearance as remarkable for the velvet bow in her long hair, the ruffles of the shirt and the tight pants as for his singing. During Proby the visit of Well-produced the singer’s first single, ‘Hold Me’, for the Decca label.
In 1968, Good returned to the theater, his first love with a musical called Catch My Soul, based on Shakespeare’s Othello, which had been at Balliol. The cinema version, directed by actor Patrick McGoohan and released to good reviews in 1974, it appears Lance Le Gault as Iago, Richie Havens such as the Wasteland and Tony Joe White (who wrote the music) as Cassio. In the 1970s, it has also created a lavish TELEVISION special for Mary Tyler Moore, and the other to Tina Turner for the launch of the singer’s successful return.
Another stage musical based on the life of Elvis Presley, was the most successful. Co-written with Ray Cooney, and presented at the Astoria theatre in the West End in 1977, Elvis had three terminals: Timothy Whitnall as the teenager Presley, Shakin’ Stevens as the maturity of the rocker, and Proby as the Las Vegas of the incarnation. The reappearance of the wayward Proby, who had once sung demos for Presley, represents a masterpiece of the foundry, especially at the climax of the show, singing American Trilogy against a projection of the Memphis funeral procession, with its endless line of white Cadillacs. The notoriously volatile Proby soon left the program after a row with the Well, whose life became the subject of a West End musical, Good Rockin’ tonight, in 1992.
After you have converted to Catholicism and has been inspired by seeing the 15th century Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden, the Descent from the Cross in the Prado during a walking holiday in Spain, Good developed a talent for the painting of icons on your home in New Mexico. In 2001, he returned to the county of Oxfordshire, and spent his last years living on the farm of his son, Alexander, one of four children – the others were Gabriella, Bunky (Daniella), and Andrea of her marriage in 1956 to Margit Tischer. Jack and Margit had known when I was living in Toynbee Hall, in Whitechapel, where the students of Oxford and Cambridge who stayed while performing social work in the East End, and where she worked as a cook. They divorced in 1987. Bunky predeceased him; he is survived by his other children and 10 grandchildren.
• Jack Good, television and theatre producer, born 7 August 1931; died September 24, 2017