"Do You Believe in Magic?’: The sounds of the ’60s reappear with the
KEYSTONE – It wasn’t easy to record a hit in the mid-1960s if you didn’t have a British accent or a deal at Motown Records – it took the American-born Lovin’ Spoonful an entire six months to reach the charts.
Six months seems quick, but to the Lovin’ Spoonful, it seemed like almost an eternity. Steve Boone and Joe Butler – two rockers from Long Island, N.Y. – teamed with two folk singers from Greenwich Village (John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky, who left the band within three years) to form the Lovin’ Spoonful in 1965.
Three months later, they had an album, but no major record label would sign them because they weren’t British. Within six months, they signed with a smaller label that took advantage of every loophole to make money.
Despite the shady dealings, the songs stood on their own, and the Spoonful had seven top-10 hits in a four-year period.
Combining folk with rock ‘n’ roll (and a touch of country), the Spoonful wrote such classics as “Do You Believe in Magic,” “Daydream,” “Nashville Cats” and arguably the greatest summer song ever, “Summer in the City.” They also wrote and performed two soundtrack albums: “What’s Up, Tigerlily?” for Woody Allen and “You’re a Big Boy Now” for Francis Ford Coppola.
After touring nearly nonstop (300 days a year for about four years), the band members went their separate ways.
Boone bought a 56-foot sailboat and spent three years writing songs and cruising the Caribbean. Then he bought a recording studio in Baltimore and produced albums by Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer and Ricky Scaggs.
Butler landed Broadway leads in “Hair,” “Mahogany” and “Soon” and appeared in six feature films, including “One Trick Pony” with Paul Simon.
Jerry Yester, who replaced Yanovsky in 1967, became a record producer, working on albums for Tom Waits, the Turtles and the Association.
In the mid-80s, the members sued their record company because it hadn’t paid them royalties since 1968. They refused to tour because they didn’t want to create more revenue for the record company. In 1991, the company finally settled. The members reunited, rehearsed for two months and have been touring ever since.
Though Boone admits every band has its dirty laundry, he said the Spoonful was a “soft-core band.” But he also admits the outfit’s music has improved because this time around, the musicians are sober on stage.
“At the time, it seemed like a great idea to be stoned on stage, but when you’re doing a show, it’s not a good idea,” Boone said. “I’m not saying we’re a bunch of Boy Scouts, but we play a lot more consistently then we ever did.”
Plus, technology allows them to reproduce sounds on stage they could only produce in the studio in the ’60s.
The Spoonful tours about 150 days a year, featuring three 1960s members – Boone, Butler and Yester – and two new members – Mike Arturi and Phil Smith.
“What appeals about the Spoonful is we have a lot of familiar tunes, and people don’t necessarily know it’s us,” Boone said. “They come to hear two or three songs, and they walk away knowing eight or nine.”
Tickets for Saturday’s show at the Park Lane Pavilion in River Run are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show and may be purchased by calling (970) 486-4386.
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– When: 7 p.m. Saturday
– Where: Park Lane Pavilion, River Run
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