1 9 7 7 – 1 9 8 4 (Australia)
If Countdown was Australian music’s televisual equivalent of AM radio, Nightmoves – which debuted on 13 May 1977 – was the same equivalent of FM radio. Unsurprisingly, compere Lee Simon (born Vassilis Simon) was programme director of Melbourne’s EON-FM – Australia’s first commercial FM radio station.
Sharing an “adult” format with the UK’s Old Grey Whistle Test, the late night show (it rarely got to air before midnight on Friday nights) concentrated on the album market rather than the pop singles crowd, and was billed as “The Alternate Rock Show”.
The Seven Network owned exclusive Australian rights to footage from overseas shows such as The Midnight Special and the material was seized upon with relish by young would-be producer Andrew McVitty, who had big ideas about a late-night rock show.
More than four years on the air – featuring the likes of Randy Newman, Genesis, 10cc, Johnny Winter, Foreigner and Graham Parker, features on Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, and intelligent interviews with Bryan Ferry and his peers – proved how correct those ideas were.
When footage ran low, Nightmoves began running and filming its own concerts, and it did not limit itself to the rock scene. Jazz and classical music were also shown on the show if the version was “interesting” enough.
One of the show’s major innovations was the use of stereo ‘simulcasts’ in conjunction with FM radio stations, and a considerable amount of Nightmoves-produced material was screened on cable TV in the US and on the BBC in England.
Host Lee Simon was hip enough without being patronising and laid back enough without being boring.
Nightmoves‘ biggest drawback was its time-slot, but viewers prepared to get by on just a few hours sleep could still be up in time to catch the three-hour Sounds programme with Donnie Sutherland at 9:00 am on Saturday mornings (also a Seven Network show).