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The Lovin' Spoonful

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With ten Top 20 hits in the first two of their three years of existence, the Lovin’ Spoonful showed that homegrown American bands could compete with and even top the onslaught of British Invasion bands. They blended folk, blues, rock and a good time spirit into a phenomenal run of singles which all became pop classics — “Do You Believe in Magic?” “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice,” “Daydream,” “Summer in the City” and “Rain on the Roof.” Over the years, their back catalog of hits has been repackaged and reissued numeous times.

They were formed in 1965 by vocalist/guitarist John Sebastian (who also played harmonica and autoharp) and vocalist/guitarist Zalman “Zally" Yanovsky after a spell together in the Mugwumps. The lineup was completed by bassist Steve Boone and drummer Joe Butler. Their brand of “electric good time music” caught on quickly, and the quality of Sebastian’s lyrics and melodies have ensured his place among the finest American songwriters.

While best known for their singles, Lovin’ Spoonful’s four regular albums, including the masterpiece Daydream, were chock full of other gems in addition to the hits. Sebastian also expanded into films, writing the music for Woody Allen's What's Up, Tiger Lily? and Francis Ford Coppola's You're A Big Boy Now, the latter featuring the beautiful "Darling Be Home Soon". Could the magic last? Sadly, the non-stop party came to an end in 1967 following the departure of Yanovsky and the brief arrival of Jerry Yester. Sebastian's departure the following year was the final nail in the coffin, although the remaining members squeezed out two minor hit singles before disbanding. In 1980, the band reunited to perform a cameo in Paul Simon’s movie One Trick Pony. Eleven years later, Steve Boone, Joe Butler and Jerry and Jim Yester announced the re-formation of the band. The latter left in 1993, but with the recruitment of younger members Lena Beckett (keyboards) and Mike Arturi (drums) the band has successfully continued on the nostalgia circuit. 1999's Live at the Hotel Seville was the first new Lovin' Spoonful release in three decades.

Without Yanovsky and Sebastian, however, the "magic" was not present, and the death of the former in December 2002 sealed the fate of any hopes of a belated reunion. The original band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2000. Despite the brevity of their career, The Spoonful were part of a golden age of American pop that included groups like the Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas and Beach Boys. Sebastian is also known for his one major 70s pop hit, the theme song to the sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter.”

© 2004