Radio Free Oz - Firesign Theatre
Radio Free Oz - aka: Firesign Theatre - A weekly dose of madness and hugger-mugger just for L.A.

Radio Free Oz (The Firesign Theatre) – KRLA – January 1968 – Past Daily Pop Chronicles

Radio Free Oz - aka: Firesign Theatre - A weekly dose of madness and hugger-mugger just for L.A.

Radio Free Oz – aka: Firesign Theatre – A weekly dose of madness and gleeful hugger-mugger just for L.A. at first.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – KRLA – Radio Free Oz with The Firesign Theatre – October 29, 1967 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

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Anyone who spent any time in Los Angeles in the 1960s may no doubt remember the weekly trips into cheerful mayhem and stoned madness via Radio Free Oz. Beginning in 1966 on KPFK-FM and then over to KPPC-FM in Pasadena and then for a brief time on KRLA-AM, Radio Free Oz was synonymous with The Firesign Theatre (they were one in the same) – the Oz portion consisted of eclectic interviews, music, poetry – complete free-form and all over the place. Firesign Theatre were the weekly set pieces, such as this episode from January 1968, featuring A Life In The Day – a sendup on FCC Chairman Newton Minnow’s denunciation of then-current American Television as “the vast wasteland”, with a “typical day in the life of TV“.

On FM it was part of that new frontier where radio was heading. It’s brief stay on top-40 AM station KRLA was a wild experiment that didn’t last all that long. But it was a harbinger of things to come.

Fortunately for everyone, their comic genius and razor sharp delivery became a staple in the diet of just about everyone under the age of 25 who listened to radio no matter where they landed. And this show comes almost two months before the release of their first album and the start of that aspect of their careers. Firesign Theatre albums became essential listening in just about every college dorm room in the country – routines were memorized and they were probably the first Comedy troupe to achieve rock-star status.

As a reminder of just how off-the-wall things got, here is a two hour (actually one hour and 53 minute) slice of an almost complete show, exactly as it aired on the night of approximately January 8, 1967.

No need to play loud – but if you have something mind-altering handy . . . . .

 

Note: There has been some question about the actual date of this tape. The box originally said October 29, 1967 – but due to the Northridge Earthquake in 1971 – about 500 reels came separated from their boxes and wound up strewn all over the floor. It’s likely the mixup came as a result of that. Sorry for the wrong dates – blame Mother Nature.





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11 Responses

  1. Pete Tesoro says:

    I really enjoyed the “10/29/67” Radio Free Oz, especially the unexpected Nitty Gritty Dirt Band bit at the end. In listening, and comparing songs & comments, I believe the date on this is 1/14/68. near the beginning they make the comment that it is the first anniversary of the S.F. Be-In, which I found out was 1/14/67. Also they play a cut from the new Dylan album, which was still being recorded in October, and into early November, 1967, and was released 12/27/67. Anyway, please let me know if this sounds correct. Thanks for your great website! Pete

    • gordonskene says:

      You are most likely right on that date. And here’s why – In 1971, we had a rather large earthquake in Los Angeles. A floor-to-ceiling shelf fell over (actually it fell over on me, as it was in my bedroom). The shelf was filled with tapes. Now – all the tapes were labeled, but the boxes were labeled, not the reels. Some 3,000 reels wound up being separated from their boxes and the reel marked 10/27/67 wound up getting the reel from 1/14/68 in its place. I only hope the reel marked 1/14/68 has the actual 10/29/67 tape in it. It took me years to sort those out. Moral of the story: mark both reels AND boxes with tapes! Thanks for solving the mystery!
      G.

      • Pete Tesoro says:

        I very clearly remember the 2/9/71 L.A. earthquake. I was working at Ralphs Market in Burbank at the time. When I got to work at 7:00am, the vast majority of the items on all the shelves was on the floor. With most things in glass in those days, it was a huge mess that we all had to clean up. I would love to have you find out what is in that box marked 1/14/68. maybe another really nice aircheck. I collect 1950’s & especially 1960’s KFWB, KRLA, KBLA & KHJ shows. Always looking for ones I don’t have. Pete

      • …one additional indication of this not being the October 27th broadcast is the release of the “Magical Mystery Tour” soundtrack album not coming until a month later. Coincidentially, in the Autumn of 1967, Radio Free OZ was preceded on KRLA by a freeform program hosted by Derek Taylor, the once and future press officer for The Beatles, then working for A&M Records in a similar capacity. On his broadcast of October 27th, as I recall, Taylor promoted the release that week of Phil Ochs’ PLEASURES OF THE HARBOR album on A&M by playing a track from it, “Flower Lady”…

      • gordonskene says:

        As I said after I first posted this – tape boxes got mixed up as a result of the 1971 earthquake, where my tape library at the time wound up on the floor. There are several Radio Free Oz tapes, and most likely this one got separated from its original box. But now, with over 150,000 tapes to sift through, it makes putting correct dates together on some reels difficult. On the original tape, there is an outro from the Derek Taylor show where he plays Homburg by Procol Harum. Anyway, if you find the correct date before I do, I will change it.

        Thanks again,
        Gordon

  2. David Doty says:

    I would love to hear more Oz airchecks, especially from the KPFK era.

    • gordonskene says:

      There is definitely more KRLA – but I’m not sure about KPFK, unless I got it from somewhere else. I will check though. I’ll be putting more up, hopefully soon!

  3. john sullivan says:

    Somehow stumbled across this very nice surprise and immediately stopped for the next 2 hours! Great Stuff! Thank You!

    • gordonskene says:

      We’re good for a few surprises here – bookmark us and come back. New stuff every day, all day long!

  4. Thank you for posting this. I taped the Christmas Eve show but the tape rotted away, You really preserved your tape well. Hope to hear more of the great KRLA Oz shows. A group of Firesign fans have gotten together to chat and listen to Firesign online Thursday evenings at 6:00 Pacific Time since 1995 and we’ll listen to this broadcast over the next 2 weeks, combined with another version of Life in the Day called KWKWT from their 1970 Hour Hour broadcast.

    • gordonskene says:

      That’s very cool! Yes, I have one or two more that I need to fish out and put up. The Oz shows were some of the most quoted in my High school on Monday mornings!