The 60s Official
Site's Recording Artists of the Month are The Lovin Spoonful. They were by far one of my favorite groups during the
60s. The band had its roots in a bohemian folk group called The Mugwumps, who played coffee houses and small clubs,
some members of which split to form the Lovin' Spoonful and the Mamas and the Papas.
John Sebastian, who
grew up in contact with music and musicians, was the son of a much-recorded and highly technically accomplished
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 by guitarist Zal Yanovsky in the Spoonful. The band also featured
popular drummer-vocalist Joseph Campbell Butler and bassist Steve Boone.
The Lovin' Spoonful
became part of the American response to the British Invasion and was noted for such folk-flavored hits as "Jug Band
Music", "Do You Believe in Magic", "You Didn't Have to be So Nice", and "Daydream". Putting an "anti-drug" spin on
the traditional folk song "Blues in the Bottle", the Lovin' Spoonful endeared themselves to radio stations across
the United States. Soon they were a cross-over hit, topping both rock-and-roll and country charts with "Nashville
Cats". Other hits were "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind", "Six O'Clock", and "Younger Girl". Their only song
to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was the hard-edged"Summer in the City".
Early in their recording and airwave career, Lovin' Spoonful members termed their approach
"good-time music". 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
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 music was also featured in Woody Allen's first
feature film, What's Up, Tiger Lily. (Their song, "Pow!" was the opening theme song)
Zal Yanovsky quit the
band after the album You're a Big Boy Now was released in May 1967, primarily due to a famous drug bust in
San Francisco, in which Yanovsky 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. That act
stirred anger among the group's fans and turmoil within the group itself, which led to his departure. He would
later open a restaurant in Canada.
replacement was Jerry Yester, formerly of the Modern Folk Quartet. Sebastian left the group by early 1968 to go
solo. Without the power of Sebastian, the Lovin' Spoonful lasted only until the end of 1968, with very little
success, and split up following their album Revolution '69. There were resurgences of interest in the
Lovin' Spoonful upon their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, as well as with the release of
the 1995 film Die Hard: With a Vengeance which used their song, "Summer In The City", during its opening
A brief reunion of
the original group occurred for the Paul Simon film One Trick Pony in 1980. Yanovsky died in 2002. Sebastian has
stated that he no longer wishes to perform with the remaining members of the group because of personal differences.
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.
Some of the their
most popular singles besides Do You Believe in Magic, Younger Girl and Summer In the City
were You Didn't Have To Be So Nice; Daydream; Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind / Didn't
Want To Have To Do It; Rain on the Roof; Nashville Cats; Darlin' Be Home Soon; Six O'Clock; You're A Big Boy Now;
She Is Still A Mystery.