Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Goody Goody Gumdrops

One more "Goodie" for you this week ...

The 1910 Fruit Gum Company were one of the PREMIER Bubblegum Bands of the late '60's. Unlike many of the other artists signed to the Buddah Record Label, these guys were, in fact, a complete band and (for the most part anyway) played on their own records. (Many of you will recall that it was Chicago's own Shadows Of Knight who performed much of this material as Buddah's "House Band" ... with Joey Levine on lead vocals.) Artists like The 1910 Fruit Gum Company, The Ohio Express and The Lemon Pipers regularly hit the top of the charts in the late '60's with "Feel Good" pop songs like "Simon Says", "1, 2, 3 Red Light", "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy", "Down At Lulu's", "Chewy Chewy" and "Green Tambourine" under the guidance of bubblegum whiz-kids Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz.

The 1910 Fruit Gum Company consisted of Frank Jeckell on Guitar, Floyd Marcus on Drums, Mark Gutkowski on organ, Pat Karwan on Lead Guitar and Steve Mortkowitz on Bass. While all of the guys sang and wrote their own music, studio musicians (and guest vocalists) were used on some of their later recordings.

In quick succession, the band scored five Top 40 Hits: Simon Says (#2, 1968); 1, 2, 3 Red Light (#3, 1968); Goody Goody Gumdrops (#31, 1968); Indian Giver (#4, 1969) and Special Delivery (#31, 1969). May I Take A Giant Step and The Train just missed, peaking at #45 and #52 respectively. In addition, THREE of these hits ... Simon Says, 1, 2, 3 Red Light and Indian Giver ... sold over a million copies each ... rare for a bubblegum group back in the day!

Keeping with our little mini-theme, it's "Goody Goody Gumdrops" that we're featuring today, along with a few words from some of the key players of the so-called Bubblegum Era.


We are fortunate to have both an original founding member of The 1910 Fruit Gum Company on our list ... Floyd Marcus ... as well as a member of the CURRENT band, Mick Mansueto. Each of these guys have agreed to share a few words with our FH Readers today!

For me, the period from around 1964-1970 was a great time for music. Of course the Beatles arrived, and there were the Stones, The Young Rascals, all the wonderful Motown artists, besides The Jefferson Airplane, The Buffalo Springfield, Vanilla Fudge, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Blood Sweat and Tears, The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix. I mean, what other period included such an acceptance of such a diversity of styles, sounds, along with great song writing.
The group that became The Fruitgum Company started out not only covering a wide variety of artists but also began doing original songs. My Uncle Sol (my dad's twin brother) had hits with songs he had written, including "Till Then" by The Classics and The Mills Brothers and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" by Nina Simone and later, The Animals. My Dad put up the cash and my uncle, along with his partner, Bennie Benjiman, took us to Dick Charles' studio in NYC. We recorded four of my originals. Jeff Katz and Jerry Kasenetz got hold of the demo and came to see us.
They of course liked the band, but already had a hit with "Little Bit Of Soul" by the Music Explosion, so they had different plans for us. We didn't set out to be a Bubblegum band. We weren't those kind of kids, but after negotiating with Jeff and Jerry we decided to take the ride.
Like other successful producers of that era, Super K had a good plan. They knew the market. Parents didn't want their 12 year old kids listening to Hendrix, The Stones, or Dylan. Jeff and Jerry knew their market. "Simon Says", "123 Red Light" and "Indian Giver" all achieved gold. Remember when a gold record was at least 1 million record sales?
With all the 'heavy' music out then, talking about drugs, sex and rebellion, it made parents uncomfortable. Most parents were aware of what was going on. Remember the older entertainers like Sammy Davis wearing Nehru jackets and beads and some letting their hair get a little longer? Bubblegum music became an alternative to the serious, political, sexual, drug music of the period. A certain part of the public was ready for music that was just fun, without thought provoking content. That's what Bubblegum music represented. A departure from that music.
Floyd Marcus
(original member of The 1910 Fruitgum Company)

Hi Kent,
Thank you for your interest. Goody Goody Gumdrops is a very happy song. Frank Jeckell does the lead on it these days and we re-recorded a number of the hits with a little more energy than the originals. We are doing well and performing wherever we can. We will be heading to Vegas again soon and have a number of gigs lined up for this season. The act consists of original member and founder, Frank Jeckell, his friend and partner Mick Mansueto on lead vocals, Glenn Lewis, Bass player and vocals, Bob Brescia, keys and vocals, Oscar Dominguez on keys, and Phil Thorstenson on Drums and vocals.
We are alive and well and looking to get to the UK for a tour ...
Thanks so much for the help.
A revamped version of The 1910 Fruit Gum Company (with original member Frank Jeckell) are still recording and performing today. You can find ALL of the latest information on these guys at their official website:
Click here: 1910 Fruitgum Company

During their hey-day, The 1910 Fruit Gum Company toured with big name acts like The Beach Boys and Sly and the Family Stone. (Remember ... this was a time when ALL this great music was heard side-by-side on the radio! And really, why not??? These guys had three Top Five million selling hits under their OWN belts!!!) We also found a great bit of trivia that's sure to make you smile in an interview that Floyd Marcus did with Carl Wiser, our buddy from Songfacts:
Before we became the Fruitgum Company, we used to do everything from Hendrix and Cream and The Rascals, and Motown, and Steppenwolf, and The Stones, Marvin Gaye. We did all of that. We did Vanilla Fudge, for instance. And there was a time when we came to a town and Vanilla Fudge was supposed to be playing at this venue, and they cancelled, and who do they put in there but The 1910 Fruitgum Company. So when the local DJ announced that we were going to perform, there was a lot of booing. They didn't like the fact that Vanilla Fudge "You Keep Me Hanging On" was going to be replaced by us. But the DJ was a nice guy, and he happened to go out and he said, "Well, give these guys a chance. You know, really." And we decided to do "You Keep Me Hanging On" because we had done it a long time. And by the time we got through that and did a few other songs, we really surprised the audience. We won them over and they were really on our side.
(You can read the COMPLETE Songfacts / Floyd Marcus interview here):
Click here: Songfacts Interviews: Floyd Marcus (1910 Fruitgum Co.)

DIDJAKNOW?: The 1910 Fruit Gum Company first formed as "Dr. Jeckell and the Hydes". It makes sense ... since the guitarist / founding member's name was Frank Jeckell!!!