To: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Selection Committee
Subject: Clay Cole
We would like to petition the induction of legendary TV, stage and film personality Clay Cole into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in the "Non-Performer" category.
Frankie Valli stated it well when he was quoted on the back cover of Clay's immensely popular new book "Sh-Boom! The Explosion Of Rock 'N' Roll 1953-1968," which chronicles those memorable years:
"Back in the day, EVERYBODY in New York watched Clay Cole."
Renowned New York Daily News journalist David Hinckley put it this way:
"THE CLAY COLE SHOW was one of television's greatest rock 'n' roll shows. Clay had the whole music industry to draw on, and watch him. Clay Cole imprinted a powerful image onto the memory of a few million teenagers."
Clay started his TV career in Youngstown, Ohio at the very young age of 15 and was there at the dawning of the rock era which changed pop music forever. Over an incredible 15-year span he hosted several TV shows, most notably in New York City beginning in 1959. "The Clay Cole Show" was unique among early rock and roll TV dance shows. The show had a distinctly New York point of view while being witty, stylish and informal. Clay, who had excellent dancing ability, often became "one of the crowd" while hosting the show.
As Lou Christie put it: "The Clay Cole Show was so much more than a Saturday night TV dance party. It was a New York City family - a family with talent, kindness and charisma that came from our friend Clay."
And Four Seasons founding member, "Jersey Boy" Tommy DeVito, had this to say: "Clay Cole is about the best television personality that I have ever had the pleasure of working with; still today he is one of the coolest people that I know."
Clay was more than a TV personality.
He was truly a rock and roll pioneer, a man of many FIRSTS!
He was the first to introduce Chubby Checker performing The Twist.
He was the first to present the Rolling Stones performing on live TV. (On that same show, he also presented the Beatles.)
He was also the first to present the Four Seasons, Tony Orlando, Dionne Warwick, Neil Diamond, the Rascals, Bobby Vinton, the Ronettes, Dion and dozens more, a cornucopia of the most successful rock and roll acts in the world.
He was the first to introduce music video clips, discotheque, go-go girls as well as young unknown standup comedians including Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Fannie Flagg to a huge teenage television audience.
Clay's influence went far beyond his TV career.
In 1960 he hosted an all-star ten-day Christmas show at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater featuring a "who's who" of the hottest rock and roll acts in the business: it broke the all-time house box office record.
Clay was among the few white performers invited to appear at Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater. He headlined three week-long revues, starring Fats Domino, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Chubby Checker.
In 1961 he starred as himself, along with Chubby and Dion, in "Twist Around The Clock," the first film devoted exclusively to The Twist.
These days Clay is continuing his personal efforts to keep the music alive.
He has created one of the top rock and roll websites -- http://www.claycoleshow.com which includes thousands of photos -- and he is now back on the road promoting his book and, once again, hosting live shows featuring the top rock and roll acts in the business who were an integral part of the "golden era" of that music.
Clay always got his greatest joy helping unknown rock and roll performers get their foot in the door. And the hundreds he helped over the years are so grateful to this quiet, unassuming but most talented and professional man.
Over a 15-year TV period he gave his heart and soul to the rock and roll music that he loves so much.
We feel that it would be wonderful if the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would express its appreciation and gratitude to this very special and most-deserving individual.
We the undersigned feel that, for the incalculable good deeds he has done in the heartfelt support of the music he loves and the people who made that music, Clay Cole is most-deserving of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
Thank you very much.