Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Brett Hudson talks about Hudson Brothers highs

With the Hudson Brothers revival in full swing with the release of the Razzle Dazzle Show on DVD this week, Tabloid Baby pal Brett Hudson from Frozen Pictures is back in the spotlight. Since Tornonto is where the Razzle Dazzle Show was filmed, journo Marc Weisblott of Toronto's Eye Weekly has the inside track with a great article on the Brothers' illustrious decade. Be sure to click here for the original piece with all the artwork and lots of vintage Hudson Brothers video. Meanwhile some highlights from The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle follow, including Bret's artful plugging of the premiere of The Seventh Python:

...The Hudson Brothers were welfare-raised Italian teens from Portland, Oregon who won a battle-of-the-bands contest in 1967, the prize being a single released under the name of its automotive sponsor — The New Yorkers. From there, the trio traded up through a series of record labels, each one willing to take a gamble on heartthrobs who could harmonize, and be America’s own Bee Gees.

“To be perfectly honest, it was usually the female assistants and secretaries that got us in the door,” Brett Hudson, now a 55-year-old film producer, tells Scrolling Eye. “And once we got in, put the three of us together, would own the room. We might have been overpowering, overbearing, or borderline obnoxious, but we knew we were entertaining. I think the confidence came through because we were real brothers who wore our hearts on our sleeves.”

There was enough momentum to move to Hollywood, even if it meant lodging together in the empty cells rented out as hostel space in the Santa Monica Jail. Their willingness to wallpaper the house of a record executive for a party, in exchange for being able to attend, led to a deal with the Playboy Records label...

Hudson, the album, didn’t produce any hits. But they didn’t need to work as hard for the party invitations, either — their next contract was with Elton John’s startup record company, Rocket, and Bernie Taupin was flying them to France to try working his magic on a follow-up, Totally Out of Control.

Just before leaving, though, they met Sonny and Cher’s television producer Chris Bearde — who was bowled over by how the brothers intuitively crossed one leg over another in synch when they sat down on the couch to talk.

...They were asked to come in to CBS Television City to improvise before cameras, not thinking much of the results. Turned out, they were edited just right to get them a five-week stint as the summer replacement for Sonny and Cher, whose supporting cast were brought over from Toronto, where the earlier seasons had been filmed.

While those primetime episodes were slated to air through August 1974, a deal was struck to make the Hudson Brothers a half-hour fixture on Saturday mornings — translating the formula of the prime-time music and comedy shows for a younger audience. The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show would also allow them to salvage the services of Sonny and Cher’s sidekicks...
While the early 20s Hudson Brothers had top billing on the program, the episodes start with them admonished by a redheaded runt television executive. Razzle Dazzle might’ve been unearthed from the vaults sooner had the role gone to another kid who auditioned for the part, Mike Myers...
Brett had already perfected his own recurring character, Chucky Margolis, based on an insufferable dweeb who’d hover around the Hudson Brothers shows in Portland, desperate for anyone to listen to him slur tall tales — the kind of character unlikely to be mocked in a modern-day kids show.
“The whole motivation for me as a performer was to make my brothers laugh,” says Brett. “And I know they felt the same way. But, in general, the things we did back then are things we’d either get arrested or sued for today. Just a few years later, suddenly the qualification to create sketch comedy on television was a degree from Harvard, because that’s who executives related to.”

Where the Hudson Brothers found a kindred spirit for a year, following their return to Los Angeles, was John Lennon — who, it turned out, recognized them immediately at a party: “You’re the kings of Saturday morning.”
“What we had in common was that working-class mentality,” says Brett. “You could have been in the Beatles, but you never get over looking for the cheapest drink.” The Hudsons also spent a long evening at Harry Nilsson’s house where Lennon was arguing that he didn’t have a good enough singing voice. Finally convinced otherwise after hours of needle-drops, he serenaded them with “In My Life” on a battery-powered portable piano at 5:30am.

“It’s not simply that these things don’t happen to me anymore,” says Brett. “The fact is, these things don’t happen to anyone anymore.”

Two singles broke into the top 30 during Razzle Dazzle’s run: “So You Are a Star” and “Rendezvous”.
...From there, the brothers retained the stature of on-call television personalities good for ad-libbing on any chat show, although that didn’t translate into sales of the records they kept getting deals to make. The Hudsons tried kids television again, following The Muppet Show formula of going to the UK to produce Bonkers!, syndicated across the pond in 1978. There was also a comedy-horror movie, Hysterical, in 1983 — a disaster that led them to amicably call the act off.

Bill Hudson was married to Goldie Hawn, co-producing a future movie star in the process. Then he was married to Cindy Williams... and they later produced The Father of the Bride movies.

Mark Hudson stuck it out in music, frequently collaborating with Aerosmith and Ringo Starr...
Brett Hudson, on the other hand... landed was behind the scenes, initially pitching and selling, if not necessarily writing a finished product. But his efforts have built momentum over the past few years, leading to the recent completion of a documentary about a kindred spirit of sorts, Neil Innes, called The Seventh Python. Premiering next week at the Mods & Rockers film festival in Hollywood, plans are afoot to shop it around this fall at the Toronto International Film Festival.
...And typical for someone whose day job involves rifling through other people’s archives, Brett isn’t in a hurry to sit down and watch 34-year-old footage of his 21-year-old self.
“I’ll get around to watching an episode or two eventually,” he says. “But I can already tell you what my reaction will be: Who the fuck put us in those outfits?”


LDMartin1959 said...

Lets get the brothers working on cd re-releases of their albums. Or at least iTunes availability. It's been too long since their catalouge has been available.

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Thank you for the article, very worthwhile material.