The Lovin’ Spoonful

lovin spoonful 1965The Lovin’ Spoonful is an American rock band of the 1960s, named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. When asked about his band, leader John Sebastian said it sounded like a combination of “Mississippi John Hurt and Chuck Berry,” prompting his friend, Fritz Richmond, to suggest the name “Lovin’ Spoonful” from a line in Hurt’s song, “Coffee Blues”.

Pop success (1965–1966)

Working with producer Erik Jacobsen, the band released their first single, the Sebastian-penned “Do You Believe in Magic”, on July 20 ,1965. 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, including “Younger Girl” (which missed the Hot 100), which was a hit for the Kama Sutra-produced band The Critters in mid-1966.

“Do You Believe In Magic” reached No. 9 on the Hot 100, 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”, which reached No. 10, and “Daydream”, which went to No. 2. Other hits included “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?” (another No. 2 hit) and their only song to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100, “Summer in the City” (13–27 August 1966). Later that year, the No. 10 hit “Rain On The Roof” and the No. 8 hit “Nashville Cats” completed the group’s first seven consecutive Hot 100 hits to reach that chart’s top 10. The only other 1960s act to achieve that feat is Gary Lewis & The Playboys.

Arguably the most successful pop/rock group to have jug band and folk roots, nearly half the songs on their first album were modernized versions of blues 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 “Daydream” and the lesser-known “Money” (which only reached No. 48, in 1968), featuring a typewriter as percussion.

lovin spoonful

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, “Darling Be Home Soon”. Both films were released in 1966.

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

  • Big Noise From Speonk
  • Coconut Grove
  • Darling Be Home Soon
  • Daydream
  • Did You Even Have To Make Up Your Mind
  • Didn’t Want To Have To Do It
  • Do You Believe In Magic
  • Full Measure
  • Jug Band Music
  • Lovin’ You
  • Money
  • Nashville Cats
  • Never Going Back
  • Night Owl Blues
  • On The Road Again
  • Other Side Of This Life
  • Rain On The Roof
  • Respoken
  • She Is Still A Mystery
  • Summer In The City
  • Unconscious Minute
  • Warm Baby
  • You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice