To say Huell Howser always had a song in his heart is probably an understatement. Anyone who ever sat down to watch his show California's Gold is familiar with the signature, syrupy southern drawl that made him sound like he was singing even when he wasn't. After the Weekly broke the news about the legendary broadcaster's passing last Sunday, it was hard not imagine him delivering one more sing-songy "Wooooooowww!" at the pearly gates. Some may not know this, but Howser was actually quite the music enthusiast while he was here. C'mon, have you heard his world-famous track "California Here I Come" in all of it's smilley-faced, Shatner-esque glory? Naturally, we thought we'd pay tribute to Howser by looking back at some of his best musical moments on camera, from the goofiest to the grandest. Or if you just wanna trip balls while listening to Howser's voice one last time, we recommend watching this.
Leave it to Howser to scour L.A. to find one of the few (only?) stores in the county that not only sells harps, but specializes in them. Dressed appropriately in all-white attire, watch as this silver-haired explorer waltzes into the Sylvia Woods Harp Center, find an angel (aka the hot-ass harpist in the orange shirt) and learn how to pluck to his heart's content. It might be a little too soon, but we're guessing the skills he learned in the segment are helping him fit in perfectly in that big public access show in the sky.
4. Whistling in Monrovia
Probably the most valuable part of watching Huell Howser on TV is the point when you ask yourself "How the hell did he make that subject seem interesting?" On paper, a segment based around the concept of interviewing a world-champion whistler in downtown Monrovia, well, kinda blows. Yet somehow, we found ourselves lapping up every bit of knowledge Howser could squeeze of whistler/hairstylist Carol Anne Kaufman. We give Howser extra kudos for his segue from a story about a bra expert in (who happened to be Kaufman's mom). Woooooowwww, that's awkward. But then again, isn't that the other reason we watched this show?
3. Polka Piano
If for some reason you'd ever seen or heard of an instrument like the one played by Joe Rinaudo before watching it on "California's Gold," chances are you're probably a weirdo. But the fact that somebody as absurdly curious as Howser could bring this guy and his music to our attention makes us all the more thankful that we chose this show over whatever boring football game was on television that day. If this clip of polka piano isn't hilarious enough, wait till you hear this version spliced withGuns N Roses' "Sweet Child O Mine."
Simply breath taking.
2. Fumbling Around Coachella
Here are two things that go well together...SoCal's hippest music festival and a wacky senior citizen from the Nashville. But we'll be damned if he can't distill the vibe of Coachella to it's most key elements. Case in point, this quote from his 2008 story on the Indio festival: "It's just a beautiful, beautiful feeling here. Everybody is mellow and kind of chilling out here waiting for the particular group that they're here to listen to. It's all good."
Yeah, that's right, Howser was always down with the kids.
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1. California's Finest Music Video
He may have been from the South, but we doubt there will ever be anyone more pro-California than Howser. And while your initial reaction might be to cringe at a slick music video produced by one of the world's most remarkably unslick men, it's good to see Howser, with his undying love of the Golden State, get even an ounce of the glossy shine, production value and back up singers he rightfully deserves.