According to Marc Weingarten's Station To Station : The Secret History of Rock & Roll on Television (Pocket Books, 2000), musicians first began the practice of lip-synching during television appearances in the 1950s, on the show Alan Freed’s Big Beat. However, even before that, singers on Freed’s live revues were getting into the act, literally acting out performances of whatever chart-buster had landed them a spot on the bill. Record company execs pushed the practice, so that fans need not be disappointed by any departures from already familiar studio versions of hits. Ain't it ironic, then, that this shortcut became even more laughable than whatever "mistakes" would occur from just playing the damn song live. Lip-synching might qualify as one of the earliest attempts by corporate label owners to steer popular music toward bland, marketable uniformity. Anyway, by the 1960s, the practice was rampant. Here are a few funny clips.
First, Bo Diddley lip-syncs to “Let the Kid Dance” on Hollywood A Go Go, sometime during the Duchess' tenure, '62-'65. The camera director should have stayed tight on her, then no one would even have seen Bo's flub. (Bear with this clip for the first 30 or so seconds while host Sam Riddle babbles an introduction.)
The Troggs do "With a Girl Like You." Don't actually know what show this is from. Anyone know?
Count Five. Psychotic Reaction. Ditto what I said about the Troggs.
The Box Tops mouth along to "The Letter" on Upbeat, 1967. Check out organ player John Evans. Look Ma! No hands! I first saw this clip when Robert Gordon showed it on his book tour for It Came From Memphis.
And finally, Keith Moon slips in a little bit of lip-sync sabotage before the infamous explosion on the Smothers Brothers Show.