Ed Sullivan Show Lip-Sync

ArchieSmash

Proud Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
120
Points
28
I've been wondering for a while whether the performance on the Ed Sullivan show uses playback or not. There are various moments where Michael bounces his hand into the microphone and it vibrates rather intensely but no change in audio can be heard. Michael's brothers also seem too far from their microphones for the clarity heard. The Jackson 5 were relatively prone to lip sync for awards shows and the Ed Sullivan Show wasn't against it either but I can't be sure. Maybe it's well known that it's playback and I'm just out of the loop so I'd just like to know.

They obviously performed the songs afterward on tour completely live, I'm just not sure about this particular performance.
 

Richard76

Proud Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2021
Messages
126
Points
18
I've been wondering for a while whether the performance on the Ed Sullivan show uses playback or not. There are various moments where Michael bounces his hand into the microphone and it vibrates rather intensely but no change in audio can be heard. Michael's brothers also seem too far from their microphones for the clarity heard. The Jackson 5 were relatively prone to lip sync for awards shows and the Ed Sullivan Show wasn't against it either but I can't be sure. Maybe it's well known that it's playback and I'm just out of the loop so I'd just like to know.

They obviously performed the songs afterward on tour completely live, I'm just not sure about this particular performance.
I've been wondering for a while whether the performance on the Ed Sullivan show uses playback or not. There are various moments where Michael bounces his hand into the microphone and it vibrates rather intensely but no change in audio can be heard. Michael's brothers also seem too far from their microphones for the clarity heard. The Jackson 5 were relatively prone to lip sync for awards shows and the Ed Sullivan Show wasn't against it either but I can't be sure. Maybe it's well known that it's playback and I'm just out of the loop so I'd just like to know.

They obviously performed the songs afterward on tour completely live, I'm just not sure about this particular performance.
you mean invincible era, right?
 

Hudson112

Proud Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
117
Points
28
There are two Ed Sullivan show performances. One in 1969 and one in 1970. So I don’t fully know which one you’re referring to but I can answer for both. 1969 is live on all songs. If anything is lipsynced, it’s possible the brothers’ backing vocals are. But Michael and Jermaine’s lead vocals are live. No doubt about that. I would be surprised if it was revealed otherwise. Now for 1970, it’s the same deal for the “I Want You Back/ABC” medley. But “The Love You Save” is obviously the same as the studio version so that’s 100% lipsynced.
 

ArchieSmash

Proud Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
120
Points
28
There are two Ed Sullivan show performances. One in 1969 and one in 1970. So I don’t fully know which one you’re referring to but I can answer for both. 1969 is live on all songs. If anything is lipsynced, it’s possible the brothers’ backing vocals are. But Michael and Jermaine’s lead vocals are live. No doubt about that. I would be surprised if it was revealed otherwise. Now for 1970, it’s the same deal for the “I Want You Back/ABC” medley. But “The Love You Save” is obviously the same as the studio version so that’s 100% lipsynced.
I was talking about the first one, I totally forgot about the second one tbh. That one's pretty clear when it comes to what's live and what's not. I'm still not entirely convinced the first one is totally live. I'm basically 100% sure Jermaine is singing live for his bits and I'm basically 100% sure the group vocals on Stand! (and probably the other songs) are playback, it's the other stuff that bothers me. When Mike sings the second vocal run (I treat you ba-a-a-ad) he bops the microphone pretty damn hard but the sound is perfectly intact regardless. It's possible that it's a mix of live and re-recorded vocals like with Dancing Machine on Jimmy Carson.
 

Hudson112

Proud Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
117
Points
28
I was talking about the first one, I totally forgot about the second one tbh. That one's pretty clear when it comes to what's live and what's not. I'm still not entirely convinced the first one is totally live. I'm basically 100% sure Jermaine is singing live for his bits and I'm basically 100% sure the group vocals on Stand! (and probably the other songs) are playback, it's the other stuff that bothers me. When Mike sings the second vocal run (I treat you ba-a-a-ad) he bops the microphone pretty damn hard but the sound is perfectly intact regardless. It's possible that it's a mix of live and re-recorded vocals like with Dancing Machine on Jimmy Carson.
The microphone thing is a good point. But here’s why I still find it hard to believe. This is the J5’s national TV debut where they’re obviously lipsyncing “I Want You Back”. This would have been Michael’s first time lipsyncing and you can tell he’s very awkward about it. His head is moving around the microphone like crazy. In the Ed Sullivan performance, his mouth lines up perfectly with his voice and he doesn’t slip up at all and it looks natural and it would have only been his second time lipsyncing. These performances were only two months apart.
 
Last edited:

ArchieSmash

Proud Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
120
Points
28
The microphone thing is a good point. But here’s why I still find it hard to believe. This is the J5’s national TV debut where they’re obviously lipsyncing “I Want You Back”. This would have been Michael’s first time lipsyncing and you can tell he’s very awkward about it. His head is moving around the microphone like crazy. In the Ed Sullivan performance, his mouth lines up perfectly with his voice and he doesn’t slip up at all and it looks natural and it would have only been his second time lipsyncing. These performances were only two months apart.
Excellent point, perhaps Michael was just nervous for that first performance because of the large crowd whereas the Ed Sullivan was on a small set. It would also be naiive to not mention that Joe wouldn't've been very happy with the first performance and would've made sure the next one wouldn't have the same problem if it were to be lip-synced.

The most likely explanation appears to be that some parts were dubbed in post, but not the whole thing. Maybe the microphone shaking was disruptive enough to the audio that they felt the need to dub it over.
 

filmandmusic

Proud Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2021
Messages
1,033
Points
113
I think the vast majority of tv shows are lip synched. Especially on live tv. There is no room for error on live tv. Top of the tops performances were always lip synched for example because they were promoting singles and you can't have a single sounding differently when performed. I'm talking about all artists here not just the J5
 

Hudson112

Proud Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
117
Points
28
I think the vast majority of tv shows are lip synched. Especially on live tv. There is no room for error on live tv. Top of the tops performances were always lip synched for example because they were promoting singles and you can't have a single sounding differently when performed. I'm talking about all artists here not just the J5
All of these Top of the Pops performances are live vocals. I don’t disagree though. A lot of the time, when singles were promoted, they were lipsynced. American Bandstand and Soul Train are the go-to examples for this.
 
Last edited:

filmandmusic

Proud Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2021
Messages
1,033
Points
113
@Hudson112
thanks so much for these links, I had only seen the destiny performance before. Vocals on all clips are awesome!
Interesting to see Michael already started doing some trademarks woo’s or shouts as early as 1977.
 

DuranDuran

Proud Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
11,291
Points
63
Soul Train occasionally had live performances, mostly during the earlier seasons. The reason shows like Soul Train & American Bandstand had lip syncing was because these were low budget programs and it was more expensive to film live performances. The show producers didn't have to worry about somebody playing a wrong note or singing out of key. It was also cheaper for the performer, like a solo singer didn't have to pay to bring a band, background singers, or instruments. It would have been impossible for someone like Barry White to bring all of his musicians to Soul Train because he had an orchestra and it was a small set and most of it was taken up by the dancers. I don't think Soul Train was set up to mic a large ensemble anyway. They would also shoot more than 1 episode in a day. Sometimes the artists would record a special "live" version to lip-sync to for Soul Train, this happened in the 1980s. Run-DMC was one act who did this. Midnight Special was mostly live, but it also had lip-sync.
 

Flower96

Miss No Name
Joined
Dec 2, 2021
Messages
12
Points
1
Michael Jackson's fans went crazy and the yellow fence broke down in prag the 7th September 1996 before you were left into the main concert area. The where are the pictures and the video that I saw on YouTube a few years ago
 
Top