The Birth Of Sparks - From Beach Boys To Blighty

Episodes

EpisodeFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
012020020220180523 (R2)

Ron and Russell Mael are best known as the art pop geniuses behind the iconic band Sparks. What is less known is that they are born and bred California boys who came of age in the first flowering of 1960s rock'n'roll.

As LA teenagers, the Maels prowled the clubs of the Sunset Strip, witnessing first-hand early gigs by the likes of The Doors (Russell modelled his look on Jim Morrison's), The Byrds, Bob Dylan, The Ronettes, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Alice Cooper and The Beach Boys.

Too ahead of their time for the hippy trippy LA scene, a last throw of the musical dice (and a change of name) saw them despatched to London where they found favour with an Art School rock crowd hungry for more of the kind of showmanship deployed by Bowie and Roxy Music.

Before too long this town wasn't big enough for the both of them...

In addition to making musical history themselves, Sparks have been present at the key points in rock's timeline and have collaborated with artists peers and fans to great success. Sparks on Sunset features the Maels in conversation with their long-time friend Katie Puckrik, who draws out vivid, never-before-heard anecdotes and insights, interspersed with key tracks from the iconic artists who all made their mark on Sparks.

The first programme in this two part odyssey deals with their rise from being music fans to creators and how an encounter with super-producer Todd Rundgren at an out-of-town dog kennel workshop finally landed them their big break...

As teenagers they lived the Californian dream, surfing by day and going to gigs and parties at night. The venues on LA's famous Sunset Strip gave them front row access to homegrown stars like The Doors and The Byrds and also the British 'invasion' of groups like The Small Faces, The Who and The Move and a young David Bowie...

This melting pot of innovative music, lyrics and fashion provided a platform for the Mael brothers to find their own musical direction.

Sparks on Sunset is a riveting documentary that re-contextualises beloved pop classics through the first-hand experiences of the veteran art-rockers who're celebrating fifty years of making music together.

Katie Puckrik talks to Ron & Russell Mael from Sparks about the music that shaped them.

Katie Puckrik talks to Ron and Russell Mael from Sparks about the music that shaped them.

0120200202

Ron and Russell Mael are best known as the art pop geniuses behind the iconic band Sparks. What is less known is that they are born and bred California boys who came of age in the first flowering of 1960s rock'n'roll.

As LA teenagers, the Maels prowled the clubs of the Sunset Strip, witnessing first-hand early gigs by the likes of The Doors (Russell modelled his look on Jim Morrison's), The Byrds, Bob Dylan, The Ronettes, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Alice Cooper and The Beach Boys.

Too ahead of their time for the hippy trippy LA scene, a last throw of the musical dice (and a change of name) saw them despatched to London where they found favour with an Art School rock crowd hungry for more of the kind of showmanship deployed by Bowie and Roxy Music.

Before too long this town wasn't big enough for the both of them...

In addition to making musical history themselves, Sparks have been present at the key points in rock's timeline and have collaborated with artists peers and fans to great success. Sparks on Sunset features the Maels in conversation with their long-time friend Katie Puckrik, who draws out vivid, never-before-heard anecdotes and insights, interspersed with key tracks from the iconic artists who all made their mark on Sparks.

The first programme in this two part odyssey deals with their rise from being music fans to creators and how an encounter with super-producer Todd Rundgren at an out-of-town dog kennel workshop finally landed them their big break...

As teenagers they lived the Californian dream, surfing by day and going to gigs and parties at night. The venues on LA's famous Sunset Strip gave them front row access to homegrown stars like The Doors and The Byrds and also the British 'invasion' of groups like The Small Faces, The Who and The Move and a young David Bowie...

This melting pot of innovative music, lyrics and fashion provided a platform for the Mael brothers to find their own musical direction.

Sparks on Sunset is a riveting documentary that re-contextualises beloved pop classics through the first-hand experiences of the veteran art-rockers who're celebrating fifty years of making music together.

Katie Puckrik talks to Ron & Russell Mael from Sparks about the music that shaped them.

Katie Puckrik talks to Ron and Russell Mael from Sparks about the music that shaped them.

As LA teenagers, the Maels prowled the clubs of the Sunset Strip, witnessing first-hand early gigs by the likes of The Doors (Russell modelled his look on Jim Morrison's), The Byrds, Bob Dylan, The Ronettes, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Alice Cooper and The Beach Boys.

As teenagers they lived the Californian dream, surfing by day and going to gigs and parties at night. The venues on LA's famous Sunset Strip gave them front row access to homegrown stars like The Doors and The Byrds and also the British 'invasion' of groups like The Small Faces, The Who and The Move and a young David Bowie...

022020020220180530 (R2)

Ron and Russell Mael are best known as the art pop geniuses behind the iconic band Sparks. What is less known is that they are born and bred California boys who came of age in the first flowering of 1960s rock'n'roll.

As LA teenagers, the Maels prowled the clubs of the Sunset Strip, witnessing first-hand early gigs by the likes of The Doors (Russell modelled his look on Jim Morrison's), The Byrds, Bob Dylan, The Ronettes, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Alice Cooper (whose song "No More Mr. Nice Guy" was...uh...inspired by Sparks' song of the same name), The Beach Boys and Todd Rundgren (who produced Sparks' first album, and whose girlfriend Russell stole as a thank you).

Too ahead of their time for the hippy trippy Los Angeles scene, a last throw of the musical dice (and a change of name) saw them despatched to London where they found favour with an Art School rock crowd hungry for more of the kind of showmanship deployed by David Bowie and Roxy Music.

Before too long this town wasn't big enough for the both of them...

In addition to making musical history themselves, Sparks have been present at the key points in rock's timeline and have collaborated with artists peers and fans to great success. Sparks on Sunset features the Maels in conversation with their long-time friend Katie Puckrik, who draws out vivid, never-before-heard anecdotes and insights, interspersed with key tracks from the iconic artists who all made their mark on Sparks.

The second part of this two act saga sees the brothers Mael swapping sun-kissed California for grimy early-70s London and their eventual rise to chart-topping success at the height of Glam.

Despite their run of top ten hits in the mid-70s, their future success wasn't at all a given and after failing to gain traction in their homeland, their label boss suggested that swapping the Californian sunshine for the grey skies of London might be the way forward. Oh and they changed their name from Half Nelson to Sparks along the way.

As part of the Art School/Glam scene they got swept up with Roxy Music, Queen and the frothy feather boa pop of The Sweet and finally found their niche five thousand miles from home.

Ron and Russell talk candidly to Katie Puckrik about their early struggles as beach boys far from home, finally cracking the market and the characters they met along the way.

Katie Puckrik quizzes Ron and Russell Mael from Sparks about their musical journey.

Katie Puckrik talks to Ron and Russell Mael from Sparks about the music that shaped them.

022020020220200209 (R2)

Ron and Russell Mael are best known as the art pop geniuses behind the iconic band Sparks. What is less known is that they are born and bred California boys who came of age in the first flowering of 1960s rock'n'roll.

As LA teenagers, the Maels prowled the clubs of the Sunset Strip, witnessing first-hand early gigs by the likes of The Doors (Russell modelled his look on Jim Morrison's), The Byrds, Bob Dylan, The Ronettes, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Alice Cooper (whose song "No More Mr. Nice Guy" was...uh...inspired by Sparks' song of the same name), The Beach Boys and Todd Rundgren (who produced Sparks' first album, and whose girlfriend Russell stole as a thank you).

Too ahead of their time for the hippy trippy Los Angeles scene, a last throw of the musical dice (and a change of name) saw them despatched to London where they found favour with an Art School rock crowd hungry for more of the kind of showmanship deployed by David Bowie and Roxy Music.

Before too long this town wasn't big enough for the both of them...

In addition to making musical history themselves, Sparks have been present at the key points in rock's timeline and have collaborated with artists peers and fans to great success. Sparks on Sunset features the Maels in conversation with their long-time friend Katie Puckrik, who draws out vivid, never-before-heard anecdotes and insights, interspersed with key tracks from the iconic artists who all made their mark on Sparks.

The second part of this two act saga sees the brothers Mael swapping sun-kissed California for grimy early-70s London and their eventual rise to chart-topping success at the height of Glam.

Despite their run of top ten hits in the mid-70s, their future success wasn't at all a given and after failing to gain traction in their homeland, their label boss suggested that swapping the Californian sunshine for the grey skies of London might be the way forward. Oh and they changed their name from Half Nelson to Sparks along the way.

As part of the Art School/Glam scene they got swept up with Roxy Music, Queen and the frothy feather boa pop of The Sweet and finally found their niche five thousand miles from home.

Ron and Russell talk candidly to Katie Puckrik about their early struggles as beach boys far from home, finally cracking the market and the characters they met along the way.

Katie Puckrik quizzes Ron and Russell Mael from Sparks about their musical journey.

Katie Puckrik talks to Ron and Russell Mael from Sparks about the music that shaped them.

As LA teenagers, the Maels prowled the clubs of the Sunset Strip, witnessing first-hand early gigs by the likes of The Doors (Russell modelled his look on Jim Morrison's), The Byrds, Bob Dylan, The Ronettes, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Alice Cooper (whose song "No More Mr. Nice Guy" was...uh...inspired by Sparks' song of the same name), The Beach Boys and Todd Rundgren (who produced Sparks' first album, and whose girlfriend Russell stole as a thank you).

Too ahead of their time for the hippy trippy Los Angeles scene, a last throw of the musical dice (and a change of name) saw them despatched to London where they found favour with an Art School rock crowd hungry for more of the kind of showmanship deployed by David Bowie and Roxy Music.