Category: bubblegum pop

On this day in music history: November 21, 1970 – “I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Tony Romeo, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the fictional family band fronted by singer and actor David Cassidy. The television sitcom “The Partridge Family” is originally conceived and developed as a vehicle for the real life family band The Cowsills. The group end up passing on the series when the producers make it known that they want to replace their mother Barbara Cowsill with actress Shirley Jones. The producers also cast Jones’ stepson Cassidy in the role of eldest son Keith Partridge. Producer Wes Ferrell (the series music supervisor) finds the song “I Think I Love You” from songwriter Tony Romeo (a staff writer at Ferrell’s publishing company) who had previously written the hit “Indian Lake” for The Cowsills. Initially, Ferrell intends to use only professional studio singers on the records, but changes his mind when he discovers that Cassidy can sing. Recorded at United/Western Recorders in Hollywood in the Spring of 1970, “Love You” features members of the famed studio collective The Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine (drums), Joe Osborn (bass), Larry Knechtel, Mike Melvoin (keyboards), Louie Shelton, and Tommy Tesdesco (guitars) playing on the track. Cassidy sings lead vocals with Jones on background vocals (with John and Tom Bahler, Ron Hicklin and Jackie Ward). Released in late August of 1970, prior to the shows’ network debut, it is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #75 on October 10, 1970, it streaks to the top of the chart six weeks later. “I Think I Love You” is the biggest selling single of 1970, selling over three million copies in the US alone. The song also forms the basis of rap duo Nice & Smooth’s hit single “Hip Hop Junkies” in 1991. “I Love You” is also prominently featured in the comedy “Trainwreck” in 2015, when actress and comedian Amy Schumer performs it at the films’ end. “I Think I Love You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 7, 1987 – “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tiffany hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Ritchie Cordell, it is the first chart topping single for the pop singer from Norwalk, CA. Singing since the age of two, at five years old, Tiffany Darwish declares to her mother that she wants to be a singer. She makes her public debut at nine, singing at various events in and around her hometown in Southern California. Singing mostly covers of country music songs, Tiffany begins performing more pop oriented material. When she’s twelve, Darwish begins making a demo recording in the hopes of getting signed to a record label. While at the studio, she meets record producer George Tobin, is in an adjoining studio working with Motown legend Smokey Robinson. Tobin is impressed with Tiffany, but initially feels she’s too young to make a record. Instead, he keeps in touch and two years later, begins working with the young singer. Over the next year, they record forty eight songs including a cover of Tommy James & The Shondells “I Think We’re Alone Now”. Shopping the recordings around, initially no labels are interested. Tobin arranges an artist showcase for Tiffany, and invites executives from various record labels to see and hear perform live. MCA Records likes what they hear, and offer to sign the then fifteen year old singer. At first, MCA is unsure how to market someone so young to the public. Then, the label comes up with the idea of sending Tiffany on a tour of shopping malls. Titling it “The Beautiful You: Celebrating the Good Life Shopping Mall Tour ‘87”, it’s launched to generate awareness for the release of her debut album. Singing live to pre-recorded tracks, Tiffany’s mall tour catches the attention of teenagers and their parents. The ball really gets rolling when Lou Simon, the PD of KCPX begins airing “I Think We’re Alone Now”. The strong call in response from listeners, leads to MCA Records issuing it as a single in August of 1987. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on August 29, 1987, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. Just five weeks after her sixteenth birthday, Tiffany becomes the youngest female artist in history to top the Billboard pop singles chart. Her self-titled debut album takes a similar trajectory up the Top 200, spending two weeks at #1 and setting another new chart record. Soon after, Tiffany’s first chart topper is parodied by “Weird Al” Yankovic as “I Think I’m A Clone Now” on his album “Even Worse” in 1988.

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On this day in music history: March 15, 1969 – “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by Tommy Roe and Freddy Weller, it is the second chart topping single for the pop singer, songwriter and musician from Atlanta, GA. Scoring a steady string of hit singles beginning with the Buddy Holly influenced “Sheila” (#1 Pop) in 1962, Tommy Roe follows it up with other top ten hits including “Everybody” (#3 Pop), “Sweet Pea” (#8 Pop), and “Hooray For Hazel” (#6 Pop). By the late 60’s with musical tastes changing, Roe finds it more and more difficult to land on the charts. In 1968, he is paired with record producer Steve Barri, best known for his work with Barry McGuire (“Eve Of Destruction”) and The Grass Roots (“Let’s Live For Today”, “Midnight Confessions”). While writing new material, Roe returns to the bubblegum pop sound of his earlier hits, come up with the melody that evolves into “Dizzy”. He finishes writing it with co-writer Freddy Weller. Recorded in Los Angeles, CA in late 1968, the track features members of the legendary Wrecking Crew studio collective including bassist Joe Osborn and drummer Hal Blaine, who lays down the songs signature pile driver beat. The crowning touch is added by arranger Jimmie Haskell, when he writes a string arrangement that provides a dramatic counterpoint, accenting the basic track perfectly. ABC Records issues “Dizzy” as a single in January of 1969, and it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #86 on February 1, 1969, it leaps to the top of the chart six weeks later. The song goes on to be covered by a number of different artists including Billy J. Kramer and Boney M. Its opening break has been frequently sampled by various Hip Hop artists and producers including Da Youngstas, and by British DJ Chad Jackson on his remix of De La Soul’s “The Magic Number” “Dizzy” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 13, 1968 – “We’re The Banana Splits”, the lone album by The Banana Splits is released. Produced by David Mook, it is recorded at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, CA in Early – Mid 1968. Created by TV cartoon kings William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, The Banana Splits is conceived as an hour long live action Saturday morning TV show. Hanna Barbera approach puppeteers Sid and Marty Krofft to design costumes for the characters who are to be the hosts of the program. Basing the show’s format on the hit comedy variety series “Laugh-In”, The Krofft Brothers work with the Hanna Barbera team to come up with the characters Fleegle (voiced by Paul Winchell), Bingo (voiced by Daws Butler), Drooper (voiced by Allan Melvin) and Snorky (voiced with sound effects). Also wanting to incorporate music into the show, they hire David Mook and Ted Nichols. Music publisher Aaron Schroeder assembles a team to write original songs. Contributors include former Blood, Sweat & Tears lead vocalist Al Kooper (“You’re The Lovin’ End”), Joey Levine (“I Enjoy Being A Boy”, “It’s A Good Day For A Parade”), Gene Pitney (“Two Ton Tessie”), and a then unknown Barry White (“Doin’ The Banana Split”). Utilizing studio musicians and session singers, another vocalist is Ricky Lancelotti (aka “Rick Lancelot”) who sings the lead vocal on White’s “Doin’ The Banana Split”. Lancelotti goes on to greater fame singing with Frank Zappa. As series hits the air, Decca Records releases “Wait Till Tomorrow” b/w “We’re The Banana Splits”, which fails to chart when it receives virtually no promotion or radio play. The album is released in mid December of 1968, three months after making its network debut on NBC on September 7, 1968. The show’s theme song “The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)” (#96 Pop) is the follow up, but only scrapes the bottom of the chart before fading from view. The album has a similar fate, though show sponsor Kellogg’s also issues two extended 45 EP’s as mail order premiums during 1969. A third single “Long Live Love” is released in August of 1969, but when it also flops, plans for a second album are scrapped. The series lasts on NBC until September of 1970, but enjoys major popularity in syndicated re-runs over the next three decades. Over time, the music from The Banana Splits enjoys a cult following, turning the album which had been regulated to the cut out bin, into a heavily sought after and high priced collector’s item. So much so that bootleg copies of the LP begin to flood the market in the 90’s. It is even bootlegged on CD after Liz Phair & Material Issue cover “The Tra La La Song” for the tribute album “Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits”, previously being covered by the punk rock band The Dickies in 1978. To date, “We’re The Banana Splits” has yet to be legitimately reissued since it is owned by Hanna Barbera’s owner Warner Bros.

On this day in music history: September 20, 1969 – “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, it is the biggest hit for the fictional cartoon band based on the characters created by comic book artist Bob Montana. Recorded for the Saturday morning cartoon series “The Archies” (produced by Filmation Animation Studios), the project is spearheaded by music publisher Don Kirshner, singers Ron Dante, Toni Wine and songwriter/producer Jeff Barry. The Archies records are released on Kirshner’s Calendar Records imprint, distributed by RCA Records. When the series makes its network debut on CBS in September of 1968, the first two singles “Bang-Shang-a-Lang” (#22 Pop) and “Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y.-D.O.O)” (#53 Pop) are released and perform only modestly on the charts. For “Sugar, Sugar”, Kirshner has his promotion staff play the record for radio programmers without telling them who the group are. The ploy works, and the song is an immediate smash. Entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #91 on July 26, 1969, it climbs to the top eight weeks later. The single is also a huge hit internationally, topping the charts in the UK, Canada, and Spain. “Sugar, Sugar” is the biggest selling single of 1969, selling over four million copies in the US alone. A instant pop classic, the song has a long life beyond the original cartoon series. Numerous artists record cover versions over the years including Wilson Pickett, Tommy Roe, and Bob Marley & The Wailers. It is featured prominently in the first “Stars On 45 Medley” in 1981, and resurfaced again in 1987 when the track is remixed and released on a 12" single. “Sugar Sugar” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 14, 1968 – “The Archie Show” animated cartoon series makes its television network debut on CBS. Based on the comic strip created by Bob Montana, the series is produced by Norm Prescott and Lou Scheimer of Filmation Studios. The show follows the adventures of Archie Andrews and his Riverdale High School friends Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle and Jughead Jones. The quintet also appear as a pop band called The Archies, performing two songs per episode. The music on the program is overseen by former Monkees music supervisor Don Kirshner. Much like The Monkees, Kirshner assembles a team of top songwriters and producers to create music for the series, with the songs being largely written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim. Singers Ron Dante and Toni Wine provide the singing voices for the characters. Dante and Richie Adams take over production of the latter period Archies releases. The fictional cartoon band releases nearly a dozen singles and five full length albums during the original run of the show, and after. The Archies debut single “Bang Shang-A-Lang” (#22 Pop) lands in the top 30 on the pop charts during the first season. The group score a massive hit with the classic “Sugar, Sugar” (#1 Pop) in the Fall of 1969, selling over six million copies in the US, several million more around the world. Only seventeen episodes of the series are produced, but remains in syndication for ten years through 1978.

On this day in music history: September 11, 1971 – “Go Away Little Girl” by Donny Osmond hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, it is the biggest solo hit for the lead singer of The Osmonds. Following the chart topping success of The Osmonds breakthrough hit “One Bad Apple” in February of 1971, MGM Records immediately begins grooming then thirteen year old Donny Osmond for solo stardom. His first single apart from his brothers is a cover of the song “Sweet And Innocent”, written by the groups producer Rick Hall (Wilson Pickett, Etta James) and Billy Sherrill (Tammy Wynette). Originally recorded by Roy Orbison in 1958, Osmond’s version is released as a single in March of 1971 and is an immediate smash, peaking at number seven in June of 1971. For the follow up, they once again reach back for another classic. Written by the husband and wife songwriting team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, “Go Away Little Girl” is originally recorded by pop vocalist Steve Lawrence who takes the song to number one in January of 1963. Donny’s version is released as a single at the end of July in 1971, and quickly leaps on to the pop singles chart. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on August 7, 1971, it swiftly climbs to the top of the chart five weeks later.  When “Little Girl” tops the Hot 100, it makes history as the first song in the rock era to top pop chart by two different artists. It also sets a pattern in Donny Osmond’s early recording career, having hits with several other covers of past hits, including “Puppy Love” (#3 Pop), “Hey Girl” (#9 Pop), and “The Twelfth Of Never” (#8 Pop) over the next year and a half. “Go Away Little Girl” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 15, 1969 – “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by Tommy Roe and Freddy Weller, it is the second chart topping single for the pop singer, songwriter and musician from Atlanta, GA. Scoring a steady string of hit singles beginning with the Buddy Holly influenced “Sheila” (#1 Pop) in 1962, Tommy Roe follows it up with other top ten hits including “Everybody” (#3 Pop), “Sweet Pea” (#8 Pop), and “Hooray For Hazel” (#6 Pop). By the late 60’s with musical tastes changing, Roe finds it more and more difficult to land on the charts. In 1968, he is paired with record producer Steve Barri, best known for his work with Barry McGuire (“Eve Of Destruction”) and The Grass Roots (“Let’s Live For Today”, “Midnight Confessions”). While writing new material, Roe returns to the bubblegum pop sound of his earlier hits, come up with the melody that evolves into “Dizzy”. He finishes writing it with co-writer Freddy Weller. Recorded in Los Angeles, CA in late 1968, the track features members of the legendary Wrecking Crew studio collective including bassist Joe Osborn and drummer Hal Blaine who lays down the songs signature pile driver beat. The crowning touch is added by arranger Jimmie Haskell, when he writes a string arrangement that provides a dramatic counterpoint, accenting the basic track perfectly. ABC Records issues “Dizzy” as a single in January of 1969, and it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #86 on February 1, 1969, it leaps to the top of the chart six weeks later. The song goes on to be covered by a number of different artists including Billy J. Kramer and Boney M. Its opening break has been frequently sampled by various Hip Hop artists and producers including Da Youngstas, and by British DJ Chad Jackson on his remix of De La Soul’s “The Magic Number” “Dizzy” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: February 13, 1971 – “One Bad Apple” by The Osmonds hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also peaking at #6 on the R&B singles chart on February 27, 1971. Written by George Jackson, it is the biggest hit single for the family vocal group from Odgen, UT. Having previously spent five years as regulars on “The Andy Williams Show”, the five brothers record a handful of singles for Williams’ Barnaby label and for Uni Records with little success. In 1970, they are signed to MGM Records by producer and label executive Mike Curb. Curb pairs the brothers with producer Rick Hall, best known for his work with Wilson Pickett and Etta James. For their debut single, Hall picks “One Bad Apple”, a song that was originally pitched to Motown for The Jackson 5 but is rejected. Featuring Merrill and Donny on lead vocals, the track is cut at Hall’s FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL in the Fall of 1970. Released as single on November 16, 1970, it gives the group their long awaited breakthrough on the charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #78 on January 2, 1971, it rockets to the top of the chart six weeks later. Ironically, “Apple” prevents The Jackson 5’s then new single “Mama’s Pearl” (#2 Pop, #2 R&B) from reaching the top of the pop singles chart. Some original US copies of “Apple” are issued with a very rare picture sleeve crediting the group as “The Osmond Brothers” instead. The sleeve is quickly discontinued by MGM Records due to the error, and over time becomes a sought after collector’s item by fans. “One Bad Apple” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: February 3, 1968 – “Green Tambourine” by The Lemon Pipers hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Paul Leka and Shelley Pinz, it is the biggest hit for the psychedelic pop band from Oxford, OH fronted by lead singer Ivan Browne. The song is written after Pinz, a lyricist, meets Stan Costa, the nephew of producer and arranger Don Costa (Frank Sinatra, Little Anthony & The Imperials) in an elevator at Aldon Music in New York. Costa introduces her to songwriter and producer Leka, and two begin writing songs together. Buddah Records president Neil Bogart pairs Leka with The Lemon Pipers who are on the verge of being dropped by the label. Leka travels to the bands’ hometown and play the song for them, which they initially don’t care for. But they change their minds when they learn that Buddah is about to drop them. Recorded at Cleveland Recording Studios in Cleveland, OH, the band cut the track with Leka playing piano. Taking the track back to New York, Leka plays it for his boss Bob Reno who has the producer re-record the drum track and add strings to the song. 250 acetate copies of the single are sent out to key DJ’s around the country and it takes off almost immediately. Entering the Hot 100 at #68 on December 16, 1967, it races to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The Lemon Pipers time in the spotlight is brief, with the only the follow up singles “Rice Is Nice” (#46 Pop) and “Jelly Jungle (Of Orange  Marmalade)” (#51 Pop) cracking the charts. The band split up in 1969 to pursue music and other interests, though band members Bill Bartlett, Steve Walmsley and Bob Nave form another band called Starstruck. They record a cover of Leadbelly’s blues classic “Black Betty”, which is revamped by bubblegum pop producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz into a hard rocking rave up, with Bartlett on lead vocals. Released under the name Ram Jam on Epic Records, the single is a hit, peaking at #18 on the Hot 100 in September of 1977. “Green Tambourine” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.