Lee Simon, former host of 1970s music show Nightmoves, was a guest last night at the St. Kilda Film Festival event Right There On My TV with singer John Paul Young.
The screening of rare music clips, curated by the National Film and Sound Archive drew a devoted Melbourne audience including Greg Macainsh, Wendy Stapleton, director Paul Drane, producer / director Jack Strom, producer Jeff Joseph, music industry pioneer Bill Armstrong and festival director Paul Harris.
Nightmoves was a late night music show on Seven which ran from 1977 -1984, screening rock concert footage and uncovering album tracks and acts at a time when Countdown dominated. It was groundbreaking in its simulcast of television in conjunction with FM audio.
Simon (pictured top left), then a 3XY radio host, recalls being hauled by Mushroom’s Michael Gudinski to a meeting with Seven’s Melbourne programmer Gary Fenton and editor Andrew McVitty. Seven had bought concert footage from Europe and the US and didn’t know what to do with it.
“About 45 minutes later Gary Fenton said, ‘Ok you’re the host, you’re (Gudinski) the producer and you start next week,” Simon explained.
“We stumbled and fumbled our way through what we were doing, but it was a whole lot of fun.
“It was meant to be 7 weeks,” he noted, but more stations began to pick the show up. “We kept on going for 7 years which surprised all of us.”
Simon later told TV Tonight the show didn’t see itself as competing against Countdown.
“Countdown was a cultural phenomenon at the time. Those of us who were working on other shows I don’t think even reluctantly acknowledged that. It was just an absolute fact,” he said.
“Unlike Sounds and a few of the other shows at the time, we weren’t in the ‘singles’ market. We were very much album-orientated. So we didn’t cross paths with them too much.”
The show was embraced by Live music lovers and for many became part of a Friday night ritual.
“It was usually between seeing a band at 8:00, pick up some pizzas, go to somebody’s house, watch Nightmoves which finished at about 1:00 in the morning and kick on into the night.”
He added that most people recall, “the discovery of bands they hadn’t heard on the radio, the discovery of bands’ other songs beyond the singles. We could play 2, 3 or 4 songs so in many cases, where a band became well-known publicly because of one song, we could open peoples’ mind to the other stuff they did.”
A triple DVD of Nightmoves was released in 2009 with concerts and interviews.