Bubble Gum Music

By Gary:

When I was just a youngster, in public school, bubblegum was just that; gum to blow bubbles.

Well, in the years around 1967 to 1972 an entire music industry and culture was created, and produced for pre-teens and teenagers, in an assembly line process driven by producers and faceless groups. The music had riffs or hooks and simple chords, catchy melodies, studio musicians and danceable beats.

No, I have not completely lost it, just partially. Yes, I did chew and enjoy Bubble Gum. Now this may surprise some of you and others not at all, but not only did I enjoy the Gum, but I purchased and enjoyed the music.

For me, the Bubble Gum Phenomena seemed to  start around 1968. Now what I did not know at the time I was purchasing the recordings, it was a totally manufactured product for the Sub Teen market.

Producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz to me were the first innovators with their connection to Buddah Records. The success that these two producers had did not go unrecognized and the Guru, Don Kirshner decided to get part of the incredible market.

Don Kirshner

The Product was popular for about 3 or 4 years and really was gone by 1972, but keeps popping back up here and there.

Why do I call it a product?  Well Kirshner, who created the Monkees (a real live group with talent) had the vision of a totally manufactured product that would eliminate the egos of Pop Musicians. 

This truly was what Bubble Gum was; Studio Musicians (the best), upbeat sound, hooks, riffs, simple chords, simple harmonies and dancy beats.

Now when it exploded, as it did, they had to find actual musicians to go on the road. Thus, there was the 1910 Fruitgum Co, the Ohio Express, Crazy Elephant, etc.

I think for the first releases by the Ohio Express, Joey Levine and accomplished songwriter Artie Resnick were there with studio guys.  I am far from an expert on this, but I do own 2 Ohio Express Albums.

The people involved in this endeavour were NOT amateurs;
  • Ron Dante – (born Carmine Granito on August 22, 1945 in Staten Island, New York) is an American singer, songwriter, session vocalist, and record producer. Dante is best known as the lead singer for the fictional cartoon band, The Archies, as well as the one-hit wonder group The Cuff Links.
  • Andy Kim – Andrew Youakim, performing as “Andy Kim”, is a Canadian pop rock singer and songwriter. He grew up in Montreal, Quebec in Canada. Kim is known for a number of hit singles that he released in the late 1960s and early 1970s such as “Rock Me Gently”, which topped the US singles charts. In 1968, he co-wrote “Sugar, Sugar” for The Archies. The song was No. 1 for four weeks and in 1969 was certified “Record of the Year” by the RIAA.
  • Jeff Barry– (born Joel Adelberg, April 3, 1938, Brooklyn, New York) is an American pop music songwriter, singer, and record producer.
  • and the lists goes on. 

The only manufactured group that could not be reproduced in Concert was (ta da): The Archies, because they were cartoon and comic book characters.

So here is a small insight into the songs and music that I believe made up this short lived music phenomena, called Bubblegum!

Now I think the first song that I heard that would qualify would be by this group:

 

I guess my favourite groups would be The Ohio Express and the cartoon people, the Archies.

Ohio Express

1968 /Chewy Chewy /
.
1996 / Yummy Yummy Yummy /
.
.
.
.
 

1910 Fruitgum Company

Now from the same producers we have…

123 Red Light /
.
Simon Says /
.
.
1,2,3, Red Light / Buddah / Aug/68 / #5 BB
.
.
 

Kasenetz-Katz

Their first hit was in 1967:

The Music Explosion / Little Bit O’ Soul/ Laurie / May/67 / #2 BB 
Video:

 Crazy Elephant

Then in 1969 they had another group:

 
Gimme, Gimme, Good Lovin’ / Bell / April/69 / #12 BB (yep I own this one) 
 

So now, over to the Brill Building where all of the incredible talent lived. 

The Brill Building

Don Kirshner viewed all this and created, of course, The Archies.

As we all know, The Archies was a television show based on comic book characters. The Archies as a music group were mainly Ron Dante and Andy Kim with a lot of talent in the studio, but it worked, with additions by Susan Morse, Joey Levine, Maeretha Stewart, Bobby Bloom, and Leslie Miller contributed background vocals at various times.

No one in there wildest dreams thought that this team could produce a song that literally zoomed up the charts, sold untold Millions and is still played today. “Sugar Sugar” was #1 for 4 weeks; that’s a lot of money and records.

Sugar, Sugar / Calendar / August/69 / #1 (4) BB
Jingle Jangle / Kirshner / Dec/69 / #10 BB
Who’s Your Baby / Kirshner / Mar/70 / #40 BB

There were a lot of other groups and songs in that 3 to 4 year span; I just took a look at the one’s that I remember. 

Yes, I am aware that it was intended for a pre-teen market and me, yep Gary, enjoyed some of the music.  I do own an Archie’s Greatest Hits Album, so I guess I’m not as sophisticated or knowledgeable as a lot of people think, or I do recognize the Genius behind the creation of this Product.

– Gary
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5 responses to “Bubble Gum Music

  1. Pingback: Bubblegum! – Gary | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  2. Pingback: Bubblegum II | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  3. Hi Guys,

    So much fun and enjoyment to read all of your superb reporting on musicians, vocalists, writers and more.

    You are keeping it all alive ! And it takes us back to our youth, our
    extraordinary youth.

    How generous of your time , thanks very much,

    Misty

  4. Pingback: Reunion – Life Is A Rock | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  5. There is a great picture of the groups in an auto junkyard on the double album cover of Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz musical circus album from 1968. Would anyone know where that junk yard was or which junk yard it was? Was it in New Jersey?

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