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N B C Living Color (Peacock Logo)

     (Phrase used on NBC color shows from 1953;
      Peacock still graphic logo used since 1956; 
      First animated Peacock logo appeared in 1957)

 

Original NBC Peacock Logo used 1956 - 1962;

...animated in 1957 -- a trademark of the NBC Television Network.

[This familiar graphic logo of a Peacock preceded NBC color television shows for many years with a voice-over announcement: "The following program is brought to you in Living Color on N B C". According to David Schwartz of the "Game Show Network" the first announcer who spoke these words behind the Peacock graphic logo was Ben Grauer, a familiar voice from NBC's radio days. Following that, Pamela Robin Brandt and her brother Richard Brandt tell us that their father -- Mel Brandt -- NBC TV's Chief Announcer for 25 years, was the next basso "voice behind the Peacock" who spoke the immortal words heard opening nearly every Primetime show...]

Before the Peacock was the Chimes

Since the radio days, NBC had used its "NBC Chimes" logo. On NBC television, a black
and white animation showing bars of a glockenspiel was used to identify the network.
The familiar tones had evolved into a sound which was a hybrid between a set of
vibes (a vibraphone) and an acoustic piano, which was actually produced by a kind
of clockwork music box commissioned by the network in the radio days, and built by 
the Rangertone Organ company called "The Rangertone Chimes Machine..."

A couple of Web Sites (which include photographs of the device) and more detail about
its history can be found at:

     http://radioguy.home.texas.net/chimes.htm

     http://www.adams.net/~jfs/chimes.htm

Background to the "color TV standard wars"

       The first network transmission using the RCA "compatible
       color" system was NBC's popular series "The Colgate Comedy
       Hour" at 8pm, November 22, 1953.

       Previously CBS had also tried color transmission, but CBS's system
       wasn't able to be seen in both black & white and color, so
       the "compatible" system by NBC's parent company (RCA) was 
       to win out and become the FCC-approved "standard" for the US.

       NBC's "compatible color" approach was a compromise technically.
       A "color difference" signal was piggybacked as a separate
       but limited sub-carrier wave on top of the grayscale TV channel
       signal. Those sets which could decode it, were able to apply
       it to the grayscale image to derive color. Those sets called
       "Black and White" saw just the normal grayscale image.

       However, the compromise made the transition to color possible,
       it had the ability to be viewed on black and white sets...so
       viewers could become acclimated to what they were missing,
       and eventually warm up to the idea of the more expensive
       set. From a marketing standpoint, compatible color won the 
       "color standards" war which the F.C.C. finally approved.

History of color broadcasting on NBC

       After the 1953 debut of color on "The Colgate Comedy Hour", other
       NBC shows began "colorcasting" including the dramatic anthology 
      "Robert Montgomery Presents" and the daytime series "Bride and 
       Groom" (1954) And of course a number of NBC primetime variety 
       specials were broadcast live and in "Living Color."

       The "Living Color" announcement was even re-worded to include the
       phrase "Live and in Living Color"...for such "event programming."

       The first NBC primetime color series on FILM was -- as you might
       expect -- sponsored by Eastman Kodak. It was a 1955 sitcom with
       the unfortunate title of "Norby", starring David Wayne. Due to a
       very strange time spot (7 - 8pm)...which in those days was not 
       yet "prime time" when network shows were supposed to begin)...
       this  poor show therefore didn't get carried by all NBC affiliates.
       So due to the poor ratings, it sputtered and died within 13 weeks.

Introduction of the original "Living Color" Peacock logo on NBC

       The Peacock graphic logo as a still image was first seen in July
       of 1956 (according to Chicago's NBC/5 Web Site.) According to
       NBC/5 sources, NBC commissioned New York designer Fred Knapp to
       create the graphic logo; obviously done in conjunction with the
       NBC Art Department under whose director of design at that time
       was John J. Graham. It took another 14 months for the Peacock 
       to move its wings...in an animation executed by Elektra Film 
       Labs of New York City.

       This first animated version of the Peacock logo started in
       black & white and then "fanned" into color. It debuted on
       September 7, 1957 for a broadcast of "Your Hit Parade."

       In 1958, NBC's "Northwest Passage" was more succesful than the
       botched "Norby", with a filmed color western. Unfortunately, the
       show was cancelled after just one season, but it foreshadowed
       another more succesful color western to come.

       The first NBC color series to really catch on with the public was
      "Bonanza" (1959 - 1973.) 

       Although books and other Web sources sometimes incorrectly claim
      "Bonanza" was the first color series, it appeared six years after
       color broadcasting began on NBC. Hardly the first color series --
       but it was the first to catch on in a big way, and help promote 
       the growing acceptance of color TV with the public.
 
       Initially, "Bonanza" had a lukewarm audience reception. But it did
       slowly grow in audience appeal and by the third season in 1961,
       its longevity was assured.

       For this reason, and because of the addition to the network by
       that time of other solid shows like "Walt Disney's Wonderful 
       World of Color" and the color broadcasts of "Saturday Night at 
       the Movies" (both in 1961), the public was finally getting used
       to the technology in conjunction with solid entertainment.

       By 1961, 8 years had passed since the debut of "Compatible Color"
       on NBC, so color sets had time to become more reasonably priced
       which also contributed to the acceptance of color television. 
 

"Laramie Peacock" Logo used beginning in 1962
(a trademark of the NBC Television Network.)

Introduction of the "Laramie Peacock" logo on NBC In 1962 a more subtle NBC logo animation was created by Elektra Film Labs of New York City. This animation began abstractly, with overlapping color circles revealing a more modern stylized peacock. Internally this logo which was called "The Feather" also got the nickname "The Laramie Peacock." One theory behind this is that it may have first been shown on the final fourth season of the Western series "Laramie" (1959 - 1963), although this has not been verified. New York jingle composer Jack Easton was contracted to score the lighter new Peacock animation, which he did using a small ensemble of woodwinds, harp, and a suspended cymbal. See more about the music below. --some TV Color history facts above [courtesy Wesley Orr.]


Logo 1 (1956 - 62): [exact title still under investigation]

    [according to an NBC staffer, who spoke in 1999 to Milton DeLugg
     about this music, pianist Louis A. Garisto of the Metropolitan
     Jazz Quartet who also wrote advertising jingles composed the first
     dramatic logo music used behind the original animated peacock. 

     It was a serious broad statement scored for a large studio orchestra,
     beginning with a cymbal crash, harp swirls on a whole-tone scale,
     a suspended  cymbal crescendo into a short dramatic motif played
    "Tutti" (by the whole orchestra) in the key of A-minor. (The broad
     statement was a descending melody: C - - A E - C A E D E - - - -)

     Lou Garisto was leader and pianist in the "Metropolitan
     Jazz Quartet" which recorded a few LPs in the 1950s.
 
     The NBC source quoted Milton Delugg as remembering there was quite 
     a flap with ASCAP over royalties regarding this composition.

     It was aired quite frequently during the five year period of 
     1957 - 1962 when a second more subtle musical logo behind a more
     modern Peacock took its place.

     But if Garisto's logo was a work-for-hire, ASCAP may have told
     the composer that such a contract precluded the composer sharing 
     in royalties until after the copyright reverted to him. In 2002,
     Mr. Garisto's daughter confirmed with her mother that Mr. Garisto
     was in fact the composer of the first NBC Peacock Music, and that
     there was a lot of difficulty over collecting royalties.

     It's possible that if it was a work-for-hire job, it may have
     had a simple title like "Color Logo Signature" etc. However, if
     it was a library piece or generic composition later registered
     with ASCAP, there are several titles listed in the ASCAP Index
     and database under Garisto's name published by the music division
     of advertising agency J. Walter Thompson. 

     Some of these possibilities are:

         "Announcement" (JWT Music Inc.)
         "Formal Presentation" (JWT Music Inc.)
         "Prestige Event" (Consonant Music) ]

     Composer: Louis A. ("Lou") Garisto (ASCAP)

     1978 Publisher: [unknown at this time]
     1999 Publisher: [unknown at this time]

     Copyright Date:
     Recordings: 

As of 2001 ASCAP lists the following composition WITHOUT COMPOSER, implying
    that since it is a "work for hire", no composer gets the royalty. This
    is apparently the logo composed by Louis Albert ("Lou") Garisto:

     Title:        N B C PEACOCK THEME 

     Title Variations: NBC PEACOCK THEME 
                       PEACOCK THEME 
                       PEACOCK MUSIC 
                       NBC PEACOCK THEME 01

     Writer(s):    (none found)

     Publisher(s): SPECTACULAR MUSIC INC. (ASCAP)
                      c/o EMI-APRIL MUSIC INC.
                      of New York, NY


Logo 2 (for "The Laramie Peacock", 1962 ) music title: "NBC Peacock"

    [aka: "N B C Peacock Theme",
          "NBC Logo (Theme)", and
          "Peacock Logo"]
 
    [Easton was a New York composer who also wrote many advertising jingles.
     His lighter, more subtle Peacock logo music was arranged using more
     "soft jazz" style harmonically, and the instrumentation and concept
     reminiscent of Ravel's chamber music works.
  
     An examination of the manuscript of this logo music at the Library of 
     Congress in Washington shows the piece was written in Db, has a bar of
     6/4 meter in the middle presumably to catch some subtlety of the
     animation. It is scored for a small ensemble featuring woodwinds.

     The melody was played by a solo flute, and there were 2 Bb clarinets, 
     a bass clarinet, concert harp, percussion (a suspended cymbal) and a
     single Db Major 7th arpeggiated chord on the very end played in the
     high register by a celeste.]

     Composer: Jack Easton (ASCAP)

     1978 Publisher: Anne Rachel Music Corp. (ASCAP)
     1999 Publisher: EMI April Music Inc. (ASCAP)
                     c/o EMI Music Publishing of
                     New York, NY

     Copyright Date: March 1, 1966; Eu 927 158.
     Renewal   Date: Jan. 24, 1994; RE-659-145.
     Recordings:


Program-specific Peacock Logos (1958 -):

     A number of other composers supplied "Living Color" Logo music,
     behind the peacock used to open specific programs...

     Although these were not widely used, a few of them are:

     A.) "The Peacock"
          by Walter Scharf (ASCAP)
          Copyright Date: May 22, 1958; Eu 525 620.

          use unknown -- there is a slight chance the composer credit
              regarding Lou Garisto above is in error, and this was
              the original "big orchestration" logo/signature heard 
              starting in 1956.

     B.) "Color Logo Signature" [aka: "The Peacock"]
          by David D. Rose
          Copyright Date: Nov 2, 1961; Eu 693 851.
          for use on "Bonanza"

     C.) "Peacock Billboard"
          by Buster Davis
          Copyright Date: Feb 2, 1966; Eu 922 926.
          for use on "The Bell Telephone Hour"


Anniversary Promotional Logos (circa 1963 ):

     In 1963, for the 25th anniversary of the TV network, NBC commissioned 
     a number of famous graphic artists to create their own interpretation
     of the Peacock Logo, and to score them as they saw fit. This resulted
     in several curious graphic and musical logos...


The 1975 Snake Logo (end of 1975/1976):

     At the end of 1975, NBC retired the "Living Color" Announcement preceding 
     all color programs, although individual shows ("The Hollywood Squares",
     for example) kept the announcement as a tradition.

     So as long as the Peacock was being retired, what could replace it? 

     On New Years Day, 1976 the animated letters "NBC" formed out of a cylinder
     which resembled a hose or a pipe (or even a snake)...A similar logo had
     been used at the ENDINGS of shows as early as 1959, in which the letters
     "NBC" were formed out of a black line; the "1975 Snake logo" lines were 
     more 3-D (more dimensional.) The difference was -- this "Snake Logo" was
     used at BEGINNINGS of shows replacing the Peacock (the troublesome analogy
     of a snake after a bird notwithstanding :-) Music behind this animation was
     only a seasonal promotional jingle, or no music at all behind the announcer.


The Bird Returns (1979):

     In 1979, after just three seasons of the snake at the beginning of shows, 
     NBC brought back the Peacock sitting (triumphantly??) on top of the 
    "NBC Snake" letters...the overall logo had a more triangular shape, and
     was used both statically and in animation with only a seasonal promotional
     jingle -- such as "Proud As A Peacock" (1979 - 1981)...


A New Bird (1986):

     In 1986, NBC commissioned a revision of the peacock which was more of
     a graphic change to simplify and make it "more emblematic", implemented
     by the design firm of Chermayeff & Geismar....again the graphic logo was 
     used with only a seasonal promotional jingle, or no music at all.


Johnny Chimes (1997):

     In 1997, a whimsical animated peacock was created by the animation house of
     Spumco...nicknamed  "Johnny Chimes", the animated Spumco Peacock used the 
     NBC Chimes signature.


Corporate and Crystal Clear (1998):

     Soon the temporary whimsical bird was replaced by a more corporate logo
     again, and only in the background or in the lower right corner -- known
     as "The Crystal Logo" because of its transparency.



































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