Story By: G. H. HARDING

 Micky Dolenz With Peter Tork, Bruce Morrow And Donnie Kehr

SNL BLOATED BUT STUNNING --- Sunday’s Saturday Night Life salute at 40 certainly was a dazzler. With an over-the-top cast of guests stars (Nicholson Crystal, Samberg, Seinfeld, Douglas, DeNiro, Martin, Baldwin and Hanks) and music from Miley Cyrus, Paul McCartney and Paul Simon, the sheer-star-power was at times was overwhelming.

Steve Martin was tasked with the opening monologue and handled it admirably. Martin, a true star for years was consistently the one shining light throughout the whole show; even when he briefly reprised his famous “King Tut” ditty … this time, fully clothed of course.

The package of classic clips was sheer brilliance; from the very first SNL-skit with John Belushi and the late-Michael Donohue to Eddie Murphy’s brilliant takeoff on Mr. Roger’s Neighbor hood. Also, to see the work of Martin Short, Chris Kattan, Dana Carvey, Chris Rock, Gilda Radner, Chris Farley, Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman, just exceptional.

Face it, SNL’s been good more than it’s been bad and though the meat of the the show’s brilliance was with its original cast (Belushi, Aykroyd, and Radner) when SNL hit it right, its dead on.

Miley Cyrus’ take on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To leave Your Lover” was superb and should once and for all silence the naysayers. McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” was a great choice, but his voice sounded tattered. The track on TV sounded downright frail; I wonder what it sounded like in the studio?

Chevy Case who is clearly on some sort of medication that has added massive girth to his frame, was funny, but he seemed miles away and even Dan Aykroyd, trying is best to reprise his famous bass-o-matic, looked old and tired.

Comedy is heavy … no question, but so many of the performers seemed word down and worn out. Sad.

One pundit said that SNL was funny … until it wasn’t … and, that sort of sums up this show. It worked … until it didn’t.

It’s a terrific legacy, certainly for NBC, which is under fire today for so many things today (read Brian Williams), and even when Lorne Michaels, who was interestingly sitting in the audience for the show next to Jack Nicholson, was dragged onstage at the end, even he looked suitably overwhelmed. It’s a stunning legacy to have created and maintained a show like this for so long.

HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES --- If you know your rock lore, you know that the famous Hollywood Vampires were a rather eclectic group of music folk in L. A. during the hallowed 70’s who met regularly at the Rainbow.

According to Micky Dolenz (who today is being interviewed for a forthcoming documentary) they originally began as a baseball team, who would retreat to the legendary Rainbow on Sunset to soothe their pain. Their group included, Harry Nilsson, Alice Cooper, John Lennon, Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, Bernie Taupin, and Dolenz. Their story is legend.

Adds Cooper from the doc Prime Cuts: “The Speakeasy and Tramps were the place to be in London. There was a little loft at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in L. A. (West Hollywood), they only had that for the club: the club was myself, Keith Moon, Ringo, Micky Dolenz, Harry Nilsson, it was that crowd, every night those same people. Every once in a while John Lennon would come into town or Keith Emerson and they would be honorable members of the night. They still have a plaque there at the Rainbow, where it says 'The Lair of the Hollywood Vampires'." Can't wait for this one …

SUNNY IN SEATTLE -- I spent last weekend in Seattle and just loved it. From a great restaurant called Bastille, to a record store called Elementary and Pike Place Market, I loved it. It sort of reminded me of L. A. a bit.

Plus it was 59 degrees the whole time. Lovely!

CLOSING NOTES --- One last Grammy note: Interesting that sponsor’s Pepsi’s tag line for the night was Out Of The Blue. That was the title of Debbie Gibson’s debut album in 1987 …

Mega-manager Ken Levy’s client, Matt Szlachetka, plays Rockwood Saturday March 7th at 7:00 PM. Check him out HERE.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s next Broadway-opus is School of Rock (from the 2003 movie) opening in November. It'll be at he Winter Garden; where his Cats played 18 years ...

I enjoyed Rolling Stone's recent list of the best post-1960 Bob Dylan songs. Check it out here:

RIP Lesley Gore. We always saw her around and about in NC. She will be greatly missed ...

After a brilliant 7-year run, CBS' The Mentalist ends tonight with a two-parter. The shows this last season have been among their best. Simon Baker, Robin Tunney and the whole cast deserve an extra pat on the back. we'll miss 'em all.

Photo Courtesy Of: Bobby Bank/David Salidor