Gary: I was at a family reunion today and my Uncle (9 months older) was asking me about Canadian Bands. Well I never did answer his question, but I got to thinking about Canadian Bands and musicians and I thought about the late Zalmon (Zal) Yonovsky. Zal died in 2002, he was a Canadian Musician who played for a very successful group in the mid-sixties called…
The Lovin’ Spoonful
the group including John Sebastian, Zal Yanofsky (Cdn deceased), Steve Boone and Joe Butler, were all seasoned and excellent musicians, which meant the wrote, arranged and recorded their own material. Phil Spector at one time wanted to produce them.
1. Do you believe in Magic/ Kama Sutra 201/ September 1965/ #9
2. You didn’t have to be so nice/ Kama Sutra/ December 1965/ #10
3. Daydream/ Kama Sutra 208/ March 1966/ #2
4. Did you ever have to make up your Mind/ Kama Sutra 209/ May 1966/ #2
5. Summer in the City/ Kama Sutra 211/ July 1966/ #1 (3)
6. Rain on the Roof/ Kama Sutra 216/ October 1966/ #10
7. Nashville Cats (Gary’s favourite)/ Kama Sutra 219/ December 1966/ #8
8. Darling be home Soon/ Kama Sutra 220/ February 1967/ #15
9. Six O’Clock/ Kama Sutra 225/ May 1967/ #18
10. She is Still a Mystery/ Kama Sutra 239/ #27
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.) 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 compilation 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 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.
“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.” 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. 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.
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.
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. (wikipedia)