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The Lovin' Spoonful

Lovin' Spoonful in 2008
Background information
Origin New York, N.Y., United States
Genres Pop rock, folk rock
Years active 1965–present
Labels Kama Sutra
Website www.lovinspoonful.com
Members
Steve Boone
Joe Butler
Jerry Yester
Mike Arturi
Phil Smith
Former members
John Sebastian (1965–1968)
Zal Yanovsky (1965–1967)

The Lovin' Spoonful is an American pop rock band of the 1960s, named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. When asked about his band, leader John Sebastian said it sounded like a combination of "Mississippi John Hurt and Chuck Berry."

Contents

Career

Formation and early years (1964-1965)

The band had its roots in the folk music scene based in the Greenwich Village section of lower Manhattan during the early 1960s. Sebastian, who grew up in contact with music and musicians, was the son of a much-recorded and highly technically accomplished classical harmonica player. He had reached maturity toward the end of the American folk music revival that spanned from the 1950s to the early '60s. Sebastian was joined in the Spoonful by guitarist Zal Yanovsky from a bohemian folk group called The Mugwumps, playing local coffee houses and small clubs (two other members, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty, would later form half of the Mamas & the Papas.)[1] Drummer-vocalist Joe Butler and bassist Steve Boone rounded out the group.

The group first recorded four tracks for Elektra Records in early 1965, but elected to sign with Kama Sutra Records that same year. The Elektra tracks were released on the 1966 various artists compliation LP What's Shakin' after the band's success on Kama Sutra.

Pop success (1965-1966)

Working with producer Erik Jacobsen, the band released their first single, the Sebastian-penned "Do You Believe in Magic, in August of 1965. Unlike many pop groups of the day (the early Beatles being a notable and influential exception), The Lovin' Spoonful played all the instruments on their records, with the exceptions of the orchestral instruments heard on their soundtrack album You're A Big Boy Now and some later singles. Additionally, aside from a few covers (mostly on their first album) they wrote all their own material.[2][3]

"Do You Believe In Magic" became a Top Ten hit in the US, and the band followed it up with a series of hit singles and albums throughout 1965 and 1966, all produced by Jacobsen. The Lovin' Spoonful became known for such folk-flavored pop hits as "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice", and "Daydream", which went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100."[2] [4] Arguably the most successful pop/rock group to have jug band roots, nearly half the songs on their first album were modernized versions of jug band standards. Their popularity revived interest in the form, and many subsequent jug bands cite them as an inspiration. The rest of their albums featured mostly original songs, but their jug band roots showed up again and again, particularly in their big hit "Daydream" and the lesser-known "Money", which featured a typewriter as percussion. They even had a crossover hit, as "Nashville Cats", a number eight pop hit, reached the country charts. Other hits were "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind" (another #2 hit), and "Younger Girl". Their only song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was the harder-edged "Summer in the City", an indelible part of the soundtrack for the summer of 1966.

Early in their recording and airwave career, Lovin' Spoonful members termed their approach "good-time music". In the liner notes of "Do You Believe in Magic", Zal Yanovsky said he "became a convert to Reddy Kilowatt because it's loud, and people dance to it, and it's loud". Soon-to-be-members of the psychedelic rock band the Grateful Dead were part of the West Coast acoustic folk music scene when The Lovin' Spoonful came to town while on tour. They credited The Lovin' Spoonful concert as a fateful experience, after which they decided to leave the folk scene and "go electric."

At the peak of its success the band was originally selected to perform on the television show that became "The Monkees", and also gained an added bit of publicity when Butler replaced Jim Rado in the role of Claude for a sold-out four-month run with the Broadway production of the rock musical Hair. The Lovin' Spoonful's song "Pow!" was used as the opening theme of Woody Allen's first feature film, What's Up, Tiger Lily. John Sebastian composed the music for Francis Ford Coppola's second film, You're a Big Boy Now, and The Lovin' Spoonful played the music for the soundtrack, which included yet another hit, "Darlin' Be Home Soon". Both films were released in 1966.

Personnel changes (1967)

In early 1967, the band broke with their producer Erik Jacobsen, turning to Joe Wissert to produce the single "Six O'Clock", which would hit #18 US.

Yanovsky left the band after the soundtrack album You're a Big Boy Now was released in May 1967, primarily due to a drug bust in San Francisco, in which he was arrested for possession of marijuana and pressured by police to name his supplier. As a Canadian citizen and fearing he would be barred from re-entering the U.S., he complied.[5] He would later open a restaurant in Canada, the immensely popular Chez Piggy in Kingston, Ontario. The restaurant is now owned and run by his daughter.[6]

Yanovsky's replacement was Jerry Yester, formerly of the Modern Folk Quartet. Around this time, perhaps coincidentally, the band's sound became more pop-oriented.

This new line up of The Lovin' Spoonful would record two moderately successful Wissert-produced singles ("She Is Still A Mystery" and "Money"), as well as the 1967 album Everything Playing. Sebastian then left the group by early 1968 to go solo.[5]

The final years (1968-1969)

The group was now offically a trio, and drummer Butler (who had previously sung lead on a few album tracks) became the group's new lead vocalist. Up to this point Sebastian had written (or co-written) and sung every one of The Lovin' Spoonful's hits; the band now turned to outside writers for their singles, and used a variety of outside producers. The band's last two Hot 100 entries ("Never Going Back" and "Me About You") were sung by Butler, and written by professional songsmiths. In addition, "Never Going Back" only featured Yester and Butler's playing -- the other musical parts were played by session musicians, a first for the group.

With commercial success waning, The Lovin' Spoonful lasted only until early 1969. They split up following the release of their album "Revelation: Revolution '69".

Reunions, revivals, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction (1980-present)

The original group (Sebastian, Yanovsky, Butler and Boone) reunited briefly for the Paul Simon film "One Trick Pony" in 1980.

The Lovin' Spoonful was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.[7]

Yanovsky died in 2002.[6] Sebastian has stated that he no longer wishes to perform with the remaining members of the group because of personal differences.[8] Boone, Butler and Yester (with Butler now handling lead-singing chores) are still touring under the group name, with the addition of two new members.

Name

The band's name was inspired by some lines in a song of Mississippi John Hurt called the "Coffee Blues." John Sebastian credits Fritz Richmond for suggesting the name.[9]

Discography

Original U.S. Singles

Release Year Label/Catalog # Titles (A-side / B-side) Billboard Top Singles Cashbox
1965 Kama Sutra KA-201 "Do You Believe In Magic" / "On The Road Again"
9
8
1965 Kama Sutra KA-205 "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice" / "My Gal"
10
11
1966 Kama Sutra KA-208 "Daydream" / "Night Owl Blues"
2
1
1966 Kama Sutra KA-209 "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?" / "Didn't Want To Have To Do It"
2
4
1966 Kama Sutra KA-211 "Summer in the City" / "Butchie's Tune"
1
1
1966 Kama Sutra KA-216 "Rain on the Roof" / "Pow"
10
9
1966 Kama Sutra KA-219 "Nashville Cats" /
8
10
"Full Measure"
87
97
1967 Kama Sutra KA-220 "Darlin' Be Home Soon" / "Darling Companion"
15
15
1967 Kama Sutra KA-225 "Six O'Clock" / "The Finale"
18
15
1967 Buddah BDA-12 "As Long As You're Here" / "Ereh Er'uoy Sa Gnol Sa" (Zalman Yanovsky solo)
101
73
1967 Kama Sutra KA-231 "You're A Big Boy Now" / "Lonely (Amy's Theme)"
--
--
1967 Kama Sutra KA-239 "She Is Still A Mystery" / "Only Pretty, What A Pity"
27
16
1968 Kama Sutra KA-241 "Money" / "Close Your Eyes"
48
40
1968 Kama Sutra KA-250 "Never Goin' Back" / "Forever"
73
59
1968 Kama Sutra KA-251 "('Til I) Run With You" / "Revelation:Revolution `69"
128
--
1969 Kama Sutra KA-255 "Me About You" / "Amazing Air"
91
82
1970 Kama Sutra KA-505 "Younger Generation" / "Boredom"
--
--

Original U.S. Albums (Kama Sutra)

Release Year Label/Catalog # Album Title Billboard Pop Albums
1965 Kama Sutra KLP/KLPS-8050 Do You Believe in Magic
32
1966 Kama Sutra KLP/KLPS-8051 Daydream
10
1966 Kama Sutra KLP/KLPS-8053 What's Up Tiger Lily? (soundtrack)
126
1966 Kama Sutra KLP/KLPS-8054 Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful
14
1967 Kama Sutra KLP/KLPS-8056 The Best of the Lovin' Spoonful
3
1967 Kama Sutra KLP/KLPS-8058 You're A Big Boy Now (soundtrack)
160
1967 Kama Sutra KLP/KLPS-8061 Everything Playing
118
1968 Kama Sutra KLP/KLPS-8064 The Best of the Lovin' Spoonful, Vol. 2
156
1969 Kama Sutra KLPS-8073 Revelation: Revolution '69
--
1970 Kama Sutra KSBS-2011 John Sebastian Song Book Vol. 1
--
1971 Kama Sutra KSBS-2029 Once Upon A Time
--

Compilations

  • What's Shakin' (1966 - Elektra EUK 250)
  • The Best of the Lovin' Spoonful (1969 - Deluxe Label)
  • The Very Best of the Lovin' Spoonful (1970 - Kama Sutra Label)
  • More Golden Spoonful (1974)
  • Daydream/What's Up Tiger Lily (double LP) (1977 - Kama Sutra Label)
  • File (1977 - Pye Label)
  • So Nice (1979 - 51 West Label)
  • The Great Years (1979 - Mode Label)
  • Pop History (197? - Polydor Label)
  • The Best in the West (1983 - Buddah Label)
  • The EP Collection (1988 - See for Miles Label)
  • Do You Believe in Magic/Everything Playing (1988 - That's Original Label)
  • Collection Lovin' Spoonful (20 Hits) (1988 - Castle Label)
  • All the Best of the Lovin' Spoonful (1988 - Pair Label)
  • Greatest Hits (1988 - Hollywood Label)
  • 20 Greatest Hits (1989 - Big Time Label)
  • Anthology (1990 - Rhino Label)
  • Summer in the City - 19 Great Songs (1991 - Huub Label)
  • A Spoonful of Soundtracks (1991 - Repertoire Label)
  • In the Movies (1991 - Sequel Label)
  • Believe in Magic/Everything Playing (1992 - Castle Label)
  • The Best... Lovin' Spoonful (1994 - Kama Sutra Label)
  • The Lovin' Spoonful (1995 -Rhino Label)
  • Do You Believe in Magic/Hums (1995 - Kama Sutra Label)
  • The Very Best of the Lovin' Spoonful (1996 - Music Club Label)
  • Do You Believe in Magic & Other Hits (1997 - Rhino Flashback Label)
  • Summer in the City (1997 - Colelctables Label)
  • Greatest Hits (1998 - Delta Label)
  • The Very Best of the Lovin' Spoonful (1998 - Camden Label)
  • Best 28 (1998 - BMG / RCA Label)
  • Collector's Edition, Volume 1 (1999 - Platinum Disc Label)
  • Collector's Edition, Volume 2 (1999 - Platinum Disc Label)
  • Collector's Edition, Volume 3 (1999 - Platinum Disc Label)
  • Collector's Edition, Volume 1-3 (1999 - Platinum Disc Label)
  • Lovin' Spoonful (2000 - Platinum Disc Label)
  • French 60's EP Collection (2000 - Magic Label)
  • Greatest Hits (2000 - Buddha Label)
  • The Best of the Lovin' Spoonful (2001 - Paradiso Label)
  • Platinum & Gold Collection (2003 - Buddah Label)
  • The Best of the Lovin' Spoonful (2004 - BMG International Label)
  • Very Best of the Lovin' Spoonful (2004 - BMG International Label)
  • Lovin' You (2005 - BCI Music Label)
  • Singles A's and B's (2006 - Repertoire Label)

References

  • The Fingerpicking Blues of Mississippi John Hurt: A Spoonful of Classic Songs taught by John Sebastian and Happy Traum DVD. Homespun Videos. July 2004. ASIN B0002KWSJ4

External links








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