The Gong Show debuted on NBC in June of 1976. The program was a competition between amateur performers, whose acts were rated by three celebrity judges, rotating between Rip Taylor, Rex Reed, (Juicy) Jaye P. Morgan, Jamie Farr, Arte Johnson, Phyllis Diller, Steve Garvey, and Potsie Weber. The judges gave each act a rating between 1 and 9, unless any of them found the act particularly odious, in which case he or she would bang the gong and end the performance. The act who scored the highest cumulative rating of any given episode won a trophy and a cash prize of $516.32.
Performers on The Gong Show included Paul Reubens and John Paragon, prior to the creation of their alter-egos Pee Wee Herman and Jambi the genie; Andrea McArdle, just before she won the role of Annie in the Broadway musical based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip; and Cheryl Lynn, who would go on to sign a record deal with Columbia Records.
On The Gong Show, Cheryl Lynn scored a 30 with her performance of “You Are So Beautiful.” However, she didn’t win the $516.32, as a juggler on the same episode also scored a 30, and audience applause settled the tie score in his favor. Still, the exposure netted Lynn the recording agreement, and odds are she made more than $516.32 from her pop/disco/r&b hit “Got to Be Real.”
“Got to Be Real” was Lynn’s only top 40 single on the pop chart. On the r&b chart, she scored twelve top 40 singles.
Today, Cheryl Lynn turns 59 years old. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with the disco classic “Got to Be Real.”
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