Friday, December 14, 2012

Wrapping Things Up With A Brief Garage Band History Lesson

Our Garage Band Series draws to a close today ... but FIRST we're going to spend a little bit of time setting the record straight ...
>>>Probably best known for being Rick Derringer’s teen band, the McCoys had a monster smash with ‘Hang On Sloopy’. The group was one of the few from Indiana that managed any type of chart success in the ‘60s. Although you would never know it if you believe their “one-hit wonder” classification. (Mike Dugo)
Ah, one of those studio musicians composed songs where vocals, not "The McCoys" were heard!!! No wonder why they only landed one hit!!! What "The McCoys" actually were, were studio musicians and a producer or more with a plan. I'm GUESSING, they had to find a decent guitarist to make this fabricated group believable, and that's where Rick Derringer came in. But, even stranger, when others went to license material by The Strangeloves, for a CD debut, it was nowhere to be found in Columbia's / Sony's vault. Even Steve Hoffman, claimed to be an audiophile, had to master from vinyl (for his boss). Oh, no!!! However, later, one of the producers of The Strangeloves walked in with the session tapes and "I Want Candy" was mixed to debut Stereo!!!!! Would sound great on radio, if radio had its act together! Anyway, let's hear it for The Strangeloves and their hit, "Hang On Sloopy"!!  We now return you to your favorite Reality TV show, where even more is staged!  

Well, at least I thought the above was interesting!! :-)

Interesting, yes ... except that nearly everything you've stated above is simply not true!  

The McCoys hit The Top 40 four times ... "Hang On Sloopy" was certainly their biggest hit, going all the way to #1 ... but the follow-up, "Fever", also made The Top Ten ... it peaked at #6 ... and their remake of the Ritchie Valens song "Come On, Let's Go" went to #17. Another single, "Up And Down" snuck in at #39 in Record World. In addition, six other singles also made Billboard's Hot 100 Singles Chart. RADIO may have since declared them to be a One Hit Wonder ... but it simply isn't true. (We featured "Fever" on the website as part of our salute to The McCoys ... and the flipside of that record is an EXCELLENT rendition of "Sorrow", a song later made famous by both The Merseys and David Bowie.)  

Speaking of flipsides, DIDJAKNOW? that The McCoys took their name from the B-Side of The Ventures' hit "Walk Don't Run"? That track (another fun instrumental track) was called "The McCoy".   

The McCoys hailed from Union City, Indiana, and were a REAL band featuring brothers Rick and Randy Zehringer (on lead guitar and vocals and drums respectively) ... along with Dennis Kelly (replaced by Randy Hobbs) on bass and Ronnie Brandon (replaced by Bobby Peterson) on keyboards ... so Rick Derringer wasn't "brought in to make the group more believable" ... he was a founding member ... and, as I said, collectively they had nine Billboard charted hits ... which, simply put, means that as far these guys not being a real band, you're wrong there, too.   

After The McCoys fell apart in 1969, brothers Rick (now calling himself Rick Derringer) and Randy (now calling himself Randy Z) took a gig backing the legendary Johnny Winter ... which led to them backing Johnny's brother Edgar Winter in his band White Trash. Derringer stayed with The Edgar Winter Group for many years, appearing on all of their hit records and eventually recording a smash of his own called "Rock And Roll Hoochie-Coo". In the '80's, he produced Weird Al Yankovic, on whose records he also performed, most notably in the parody video for "Eat It", a take-off of the Michael Jackson hit "Beat It". Legend has it that the Steely Dan song "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" was written about none other than Rick Derringer!!!   

The fact that you brought The Strangeloves into the conversation is most interesting ... because this simply means that you've also got your "fabricated bands" mixed up, too! ... as in completely backwards.  

It is The Strangeloves who were a fabricated band ... and the brainchild of writers / producers Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer, who wrote and produced The Angels' #1 Hit "My Boyfriend's Back" in 1963. They then also produced The McCoys' #1 Single "Hang On Sloopy" (which they also recorded themselves ... more on this later) ... and, moving ahead to the '80's, worked with the likes of Blondie and The Go Gos.  

Their own success as The Strangeloves is one of those crazy rock and roll happenstances.  They claim they did it all as a lark ... and took their name from the Peter Sellers movie "Dr. Strangelove, Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb". The trio passed themselves off as Aboriginal, Australian sheepherders Gils, Miles and Nigel Strange, and dressed in outrageous outfits trying to perpetuate the myth that they came from the land down under when, in fact, they were three Jewish songwriters who honed their craft hanging around The Brill Building in New York City the early '60's.  

Whatever the case may be, it worked ... and The Strangeloves managed three straight Top 40 Hits with "I Want Candy" (#6, 1965); "Cara-Lin" (#32, 1965) and "Night Time" (#18, 1966) ... not too shabby ... especially when one considers that "I Want Candy" has also been recorded by nearly 100 OTHER artists over the years!  

In 1965, The Strangeloves worked up an arrangement to "Hang On Sloopy" (a funky remake / take-off of The Vibrations' minor hit "My Girl Sloopy" that was a Top 40 Hit the year before) and recorded it for consideration as their next single. Reportedly The Dave Clark Five (for whom The Strangeloves were currently the opening act on tour) liked this new arrangement so much that they were planning to record it as their next single once they got back to England, which most certainly would have stolen The Strangeloves' thunder as, at the time, The DC5 were one of the hottest acts on the planet.    

The Strangeloves didn't want to miss the opportunity to release their own arrangement of the tune which THEY felt was a sure-fire hit. However, with "I Want Candy" still climbing the charts at the time, they also didn't want to halt the momentum of their current hit single ... so it was at that point that The Strangeloves decided to recruit The McCoys to rush release the single instead.   

All of that being said, this is the only part of your story / theory that holds water ... in order to get the single to market quickly, The McCoys were immediately flown to New York City where Rick Zehringer / Derringer laid down his lead guitar and lead vocal track to the already existing Strangeloves backing track ... and, nearly overnight, created the #1 Single.   

And THAT'S the facts, Jack!!! (kk)

Here's The Strangeloves' original recording of "Hang On Sloopy" ... note that the backing track is identical to The McCoys' #1 Hit version.

And here's their biggest hit, "I Want Candy", #6, 1965

And finally, their OTHER Top 20 Hit, "Night Time"
(Not bad for a group that didn't really exist!!!)


By the way, when we finally publish our list of Your Top 50 All-Time Garage Band Favorites (soon, I promise!), you'll find The Strangeloves holding down the #39 position.

Thanks again for all your Garage Band votes and comments ... things return to semi-normal again here tomorrow ... please join us!!!