Play/Download a FREE copy of "At the Hop" (mp3)
from the movie.
One of the questions most asked about American Graffiti is," how did you guys get the part"? Well the answer is the casting director for the movie, Fred Roos, saw the band play at the Troubadour in L.A. in 1971. In 1972 when director George Lucas, needed a band to play the part of Herbie and the Heartbeats in the high school hop scene, Fred told him about us. George Lucas and Francis Coppola, the producer, came to our sound check at the Whisky-a-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip. They liked what they saw, and asked us a few simple questions. Can you play "At The Hop", do you want to be in a movie, and is there a song you have that you'd like to do in the movie? Yes, yes, and yes. We recorded three songs, "At the Hop", "Louie Louie", and "She's so Fine" in San Francisco, at Wally Heiders studio. The songs were recorded and mixed in one four hour session the night before we filmed the movie. We left the tracks very dry, no echo or reverb, because they would be played back over a PA system in the gym for the scene in the movie. They sounded great in the movie, but pretty dull on the soundtrack album. Oh well, the album is still selling and we keep getting royalties. It definitely is the most money we've ever made for the least amount of work.
The "Hop" scene was filmed at Mt. Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, Ca. The entire scene was shot in one day. When we arrived early in the morning there was a row of barber chairs and a line of kids waiting to get their hair cut so they could be in the scene. We got into our red blazers, black slacks, white shirts and thin black ties looking sharp and ready to rock. Trouble was they really didn't want us to rock. We were playing "Herbie and the Heartbeats", not Flash Cadillac. All through the day George Lucas kept reminding us not to move around so much. Don't be so aggressive. Be shy, and nervous and nerdy. We did, and it was great. Part of our job that day was to entertain all the extras who were part of the whole dance and Gym scene. In between takes we would play music and help give away the door prizes in order to keep everybody interested. Actually, Ron Howard was the person who came up on stage every few hours and gave things away. Most every time he came to the stage, Kris would play the theme from the Andy Griffith show. I don't think he really liked it, but he is such a great guy it wasn't a problem. He was great to work with months later on Happy Days, and even did a lot of work with Kris over the two days filming that show.
Although the movie was shot in 20 days, the movie wasn't released until a year and a half later. We had told everybody we knew that we were going to be in a movie. By the time it finally came out I don't think anybody believed us anymore. When we first read the script we thought it would really be cool if they could pull all of it off, but we had no idea of how good or bad it would be. When we finally got to see the finished movie a few weeks before its release, we were amazed. It felt so incredibly good to walk out of that screening room knowing we were a part of such a fantastic movie.
Be sure to check out our friends at Mel's Diner
where much of American Graffiti was filmed!
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