(musical/animated logo since 1957) [The "Living Color" Phrase used on NBC color shows since 1953; Peacock "still graphic" (non-animated logo) was 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.
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
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.
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.
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 still 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 a 1957 animation created by UPA/New York under the supervision of its Creative Director Gene Deitch. 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 successful 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
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.]
[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. Lou Garisto was leader and pianist in the "Metropolitan Jazz Quartet" which made recordings in the 1950s. The NBC source quoted Milton Delugg as remembering there was quite a flap with ASCAP over royalties regarding this composition. However another source, perhaps more authoritative, has come to light recently. We are currently investigating and researching more about this in copyright records. If true, this could supplant the above information. An employee who supervised the original Peacock animation, who was the Creative Director of UPA/New York named Gene Deitch, posted an article on his web site GeneDeitchCredits naming Irwin A. "Bud" Bazelon as the composer of the original Peacock animation logo fanfare. Deitch says in this article that he chose Bazelon to compose the dramatic music behind Ben Grauer's announcement. Bazelon's ASCAP credits list an NBC News signature, but do not mention anything related to NBC Living Color or the Peacock animation. Since the ASCAP credit for "N B C PEACOCK THEME" do not list a "Writer" it is presumed they decided to consider it a "work for hire" whereby the enterprise that commissions the music is legally considered the "Author", at least for purposes of collecting the Writer's share of the royalties as well as the publisher's share. So the following statement in Deitch's article seems questionable: "Bud Bazelon became rich...and he became my grateful friend to the end of his life for bringing him this bonanza." The logo 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 by the whole orchestra. (The broad statement was a descending melody: C - - A E - C A E D E - - - -)] Title: N B C PEACOCK THEME Title Variations: NBC PEACOCK THEME PEACOCK THEME PEACOCK MUSIC NBC PEACOCK THEME 01 Writer(s): Irwin A. "Bud" Bazelon [uncredited] Publisher(s): SPECTACULAR MUSIC INC. (ASCAP) c/o EMI-APRIL MUSIC INC. of New York, NY Copyright Date: [none yet found] Renewal Date: [none yet found]
[above is the title as filed for copyright; ASCAP title variations: aka: "N B C Peacock Theme"; aka: "NBC Logo (Theme)"; and aka: "Peacock Logo"] [Jack Easton (1918 - 1984) was a New York actor and musician, who wrote advertising jingles, and is credited in imdb.com as scoring the animated film "Baby Boogie" (1955.) He did some arranging for Off- Broadway productions as well. He was an actor also, and for some reason so well known to TV audiences that he appeared as the featured guest on a 1951 episode of "This Is Your Life." 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, in 4/4 meter. But it 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. Although it was used as early as 1962, the music copyright was apparently not filed for another 4 years, in 1966. 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:
A number of other composers supplied "Living Color" Logo music, to open specific programs... Although these were not widely used, a few of them are:
[Usage unknown] Composer: Walter Scharf (ASCAP) 1978 Publisher: Copyright Date: May 22, 1958; Eu 525 620. Recordings:
[Used to open "Bonanza" in Living Color in 1961] Composer: David D. Rose (ASCAP) 1978 Publisher: Copyright Date: Nov 2, 1961; Eu 693 851. Recordings:
[For use on "The Bell Telephone Hour"] Composer: Buster Davis (ASCAP) 1978 Publisher: 2014 Publisher: Untold Story Music c/o Sony/ATV Tunes LLC, Nashville, TN Copyright Date: Feb 2, 1966; Eu 922 926. Recordings:
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...
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.
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)...
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.
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.
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.