San Antonio, Texas rockers The Bubble Puppy rocketed to #14 on the charts with the psychedelic hard rocking “Hot Smoke & Sasafrass”:
The band pioneered the dual lead guitar sound, with Rod Prince and Todd Potter riffing their way to an appearance on Dick Clark’s AMERICAN BANDSTAND. Soon groups like The Allman Brothers and Thin Lizzy took the concept to new rocking heights, but The Bubble Puppy (also featuring Roy Cox on bass and “Fuzzy” Fore on drums) were there first. The song, which has been covered by MGMT and The Mooche, remains an early example of the heavy metal genre.
Though The Bubble Puppy released only one album (“A Gathering of Promises”) before disbanding in 1970, it’s members all continued working in the music industry. Prince and Fore are currently gigging in the Texas area in a reformed version of The Bubble Puppy with new members Mark Miller (guitar), Gregg Stegall (guitar), and Jimi Umstattd (bass), bringing a triple lead sonic assault to a festival near you… if you live in Texas, that is! All hail The Bubble Puppy!
The obscure Southwest FOB climbed to #56 on the pop charts with their psychedelic hit “Smell of Incense”:
This cover of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band tune by five high school pals from Dallas, Texas gained national exposure, and the kids released one album. They even opened some shows for a group that soon became much bigger – Led Zeppelin! But the band broke up, and Southwest FOB (which stood for ‘Free On Board’, don’t ask me why) was relegated to the Bargain Bins of rock history… almost. Two of the group’s members later became prominent in the 1970’s as one of that decade’s most boring soft-rock duos, England Dan and John Ford Coley:
Yes, the pair behind such snoozers as “Nights Are Forever Without You”, “We’ll Never Have to Say Goodbye Again”, and “Love Is the Answer” first hit it big with Southwest FOB. Should’ve stuck to psychedelia, boys!
Los Angeles psychedelic rockers The Electric Prunes rose to #11 on the Billboard charts with their 1966 hit, “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)”:
The band were noted for their early use of fuzz-tone guitars, wah-wah pedals, and other studio tricks to add an eerie ambience to their rock’n’roll noise. Though they never had another hit, their 1968 album “Mass in F Minor” has become a psychedelia collector’s Holy Grail, a complex, baroque rock concept LP composed and arranged by David Axelrod (the jazz producer, not the political pundit) sung entirely in Greek and Latin. The record was so complex, in fact, The Prunes had difficulty playing the songs, and studio musicians were brought in to fill in the gaps. A song from “Mass in F Minor” called “Kyrie Elieson” gained some notoriety when it was used in Dennis Hopper’s 1969 biker classic EASY RIDER:
As for The Electric Prunes, they went back to a simpler sound before breaking up in 1970. There were several reunions and re-reunions over the years, but far as I can tell, The Prunes are no longer in existence. Anyone who knows otherwise, please feel free to leave a comment – Prunes fans wanna know!!
The very first concert I saw was… er, a very long time ago! Teenybop pop rockers Herman’s Hermits headlined the show, and the opening act was The Blues Magoos, performing their #5 Billboard hit, “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet”:
The Blues Magoos, from The Bronx, were early practitioners of psychedelic rock’n’roll, going so far as to name their debut album “Psychedelic Lollipop”. They were loud, heavy, and wore these electric suits that blinked on and off during their rendition of the classic “Tobacco Road”:
Even without the suits, they were pretty far out, man! The lineup consisted of Emil “Peppy Castro” Theilheim (vocals, rhythm guitar), Mike Esposito (lead guitar), Ralph Scala (organ), Ron Gilbert (bass), and Geoff Daking (drums). They made the rounds of all the TV shows, like AMERICAN BANDSTAND, THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR , and the above clip from a Jack Benny-hosted episode of THE KRAFT MUSIC HALL (Jack doesn’t seem to dig ’em… Well!). After four more groovy LP’s and a handful of singles, The Blues Magoos disbanded, only to reunite ten years ago. They continue to spread the Gospel of Psychedelia around to small clubs across the country.
Oh, there was a second group playing that night between The Magoos and Herman, an obscure British band noted at the time more for destroying their instruments onstage than their music:
Hmmm, wonder what ever happened to those lads?