This Week In Texas Music History – Soul music comes to Dallas broadcast television with an all-star bandleader.
By Jason Mellard / Center for Texas Music History at Texas State
On January 31, 1966, production began in Dallas on soul television show The !!! Beat, hosted by William Allen, aka “The Hossman.” Allen, a white dj, had parlayed his work at Nashville’s radio station WLAC into a career in music publishing, artist management, and talent booking. Seeing the potential in Nashville’s first Black music television program, The Night Train, Allen pitched a soul revue show of his own. It landed at Dallas’s WFAA. Allen assembled a house band under the leadership of legendary guitarist Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman. In the winter and spring of 1966, the team recorded twenty-six half-hour episodes that began airing that summer.
The crown jewels of Sixties soul appeared on the Dallas program, including Freddie King, Barbara Lynn, Etta James, Percy Sledge, and Otis Redding. Though stacked with talent, the show struggled to find a large audience and was also challenged by the Hossman’s own erratic performances. Gatemouth Brown and Fathead Newman did not stick around for the run of the show, and Otis Redding himself took on some hosting duties late in the series. Such television programs, so essential for music audiences at the time, have often proven ephemeral in the historical record, but The !!! Beat enjoyed new attention after a DVD reissue by Germany’s Bear Family Records in 2005.
Laurie E. Jasinski in Laurie E. Jasinski, Gary Hartman, Casey Monahan, and Ann T. Smith, eds. The Handbook of Texas Music. Second Edition. Denton, TX: Texas State Historical Association, 2012.