Original Roxy Cast

The Rocky Horror Show [Original Roxy Cast]

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The Rocky Horror Show, a satiric amalgam of glam rock and 1950s horror movies, was a minor sensation on the fringes of London musical theater in 1973 when it was seen one fateful night by Lou Adler, the veteran Los Angeles-based record company executive and producer, who decided to take it to America. Adler brought the show's star, Tim Curry, to L.A. and built a production around him to play in the Roxy nightclub, opening on March 24, 1974.

Adler also produced a cast album for his Ode Records label. He used his usual musicians, the cream of the L.A. session scene who referred to themselves as the "Wrecking Crew" -- drummer Hal Blaine, bassist Joe Osborn, keyboard player Larry Knechtel, guitarist Dean Parks, etc. -- which made a big change from the five-man pickup band that recorded the original London cast album. In these musicians' hands, the music for The Rocky Horror Show became much slicker and more mainstream, less a parody of pop/rock styles than a version of the real thing. It was also played at noticeably quicker tempos. The L.A. cast members had better voices than their London counterparts, but their interpretation was more campy and less affectionate.

Curry, however, was much the same, having long since perfected his portrayal of mad scientist and transvestite Frank-N-Furter. There were three new songs, two of which, "Charles Atlas Song" and "Planet Shmanet Janet," gave Curry more to do. The third new song, "Eddie's Teddy," gave Meat Loaf, an important addition to the cast, greater exposure in the dual roles of Eddie and Dr. Scott. (Eddie's main song, meanwhile, was retitled from "Hot Patootie [Bless My Soul]" to "Whatever Happened to Saturday Night.") In one sense, the show, which sent up many aspects of American pop culture, was a good fit for L.A.; in another, it was all wrong. In Hollywood, it was no longer the trashy little entertainment it had been back home, but only a slight variation on what was going on outside the theater. Nevertheless, the songs remained engaging, Curry was still impressive, and the recording was a far more professional effort than its British predecessor.

The Rocky Horror Show ran for nine months in Los Angeles, after which a film version, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, was shot. Adler then assembled an ill-fated Broadway production of the musical. An L.A. record type bringing in a rock & roll musical from London was not the kind of project the notoriously closed shop of Broadway was likely to embrace, and The Rocky Horror Show further offended New York sensibilities when the production redesigned the Belasco Theatre, reportedly damaging the venerable house in the process. Opening on March 10, 1975, to devastating reviews, the show struggled a month and then closed. No Broadway cast album was recorded. And that seemed to be it for The Rocky Horror Show in the U.S. (it was still playing in England and Australia). But the movie version hadn't yet opened....

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