The King Biscuit Flower Hour was a syndicated radio show presented by the D.I.R. (Designs in Radio) Radio Network that featured concert performances by various rock 'n' roll artists.
The program was broadcast weekly on Sunday nights from 1973 until 2007, although new programming ceased in 1993 and previous shows were repeated from that point. During its prime, the program was carried by more than 300 radio stations throughout the United States. The show’s name was derived from the influential blues radio show “King Biscuit Time”, which was sponsored by the King Biscuit Flour Co., and the hippie phrase “flower power”. The first show was broadcast on February 18, 1973 and featured Blood, Sweat & Tears, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Bruce Springsteen. The long-time host of the show until the mid ‘90s was Bill Minkin, whose velvet-smooth voice was the perfect blend of hipster enthusiasm and stoner casualness.
Some of the biggest names in music were featured over the years including Boston, Chicago, Eric Clapton, Duran Duran, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, Genesis, Elton John, Journey, John Lennon, Power Station, the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, James Taylor, U2 and the Who all appeared on the show.
The concerts were usually recorded with a mobile recording truck, then mixed and edited for broadcast on the show within a few weeks. In the 1970s, the show was sent to participating radio stations on reel-to-reel tape. In 1980, D.I.R. began using the LP format, producing the show on a three-sided, two record set. The first show on compact disc was a live retrospective of the Rolling Stones broadcast on September 27, 1987. By the year 2000, King Biscuit was using CD-R media to distribute the show. These tapes, records or compact discs were accompanied by a cue sheet which gave the disc jockey a written guideline of the content and length of each segment of the program.
In 1982, a three-alarm fire damaged the Manhattan office tower that housed D.I.R. Broadcasting. Reportedly, many of the King Biscuit Flower Hour recordings were lost in the fire.
Although closely associated with clssic rock in its recent incarnation, the King Biscuit Flower Hour dedicated much air time to new and emerging artists, including a healthy dose of new wave and modern rock artists in the late ’70s and early ‘80s. Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Devo, U2, Men at Work, the Psychedelic Furs and the Stray Cats were all featured on the program early in their careers.
In 2006, the King Biscuit tape archives were acquired by Wolfgang's Vault which began streaming concerts online and has made some available for download.
King Biscuit Flower Hour Records Edit
After founder Bob Meyrowitz sold his interest to new ownership, King Biscuit Flower Hour Records was formed in 1992 with the intention of releasing live albums from the archives. Although licensing issues prevented the release of the most popular artists featured on the program, dozens of recordings did see commercial release including those by America, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Pat Benatar, David Crosby, Deep Purple, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Humble Pie, Kansas, the Steve Miller Band, Thin Lizzy, Triumph and Robin Trower.