Sunday, July 2, 2017

"Fireworks".

This is one of the America Rocks animated shorts which aired on ABC television in 1976. Its lyrics and music were by Lynn Ahrens, and it was performed by jazz singer Grady Tate. It first aired on July 3, 1976.



Schoolhouse Rock was the brainchild of advertising executive David McCall, half of the Madison Avenue advertising agency McCaffrey & McCall. His son had trouble memorizing multiplication tables, but knew the lyrics to all sorts of rock songs. McCall eventually asked jazz and bebop legend Bob Dorough to compose songs for the multiplication tables. "Three Is A Magic Number" was the first song written.

McCall originally envisioned a songbook, but when that idea fell through he commissioned an animated cartoon instead. He sold the idea to Michael Eisner, then head of children's programming at ABC (McCaffrey & McCall's biggest client). Eisner had Chuck Jones sit in on the pitch.

The first Schoolhouse Rock short, "Three Is A Magic Number", aired on January 6, 1973. The rest aired in January, February, and March. The first Grammar Rock to air was "A Noun Is A Person, Place, or Thing" on September 15, 1973. Grammar Rock shorts continued to air until April 13, 1974, although "Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla" (pronouns), the last one, aired almost two years after the others.

To celebrate the American Bicentennial, ABC commissioned a series of America Rock shorts. The first of these, "No More Kings", aired on September 20, 1975. They continued to air intermittenly until the last one, "Mother Necessity", aired on July 10, 1976.

ABC commissioned a fourth series, Science Rock. The first of these, "Victim of Gravity", aired on September 16, 1978, and they intermittently did so until June 30, 1979.

ABC completed Grammar Rock in 1993 with "Busy Prepositions" and "The Tale of Mr. Morton", which aired in September. ABC then commissioned Money Rock (to teach financial skills) in 1994, and Earth Rock (about climate and the environment) in 2009. Two more America Rock shorts, "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to College" (Electoral College) and "Presidential Minute" (voting for President) aired in 2002.

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