The Peanut Butter Conspiracy
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|The Peanut Butter Conspiracy|
The Group in 1966. . From left-Sandi Robison, John Merrill, Jim Voigt, Lance Fent and Al Brackett.
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Associated acts||The Ashes, Spencer Dryden, Clear Light|
|Past members||John Merrill
Barbara "Sandi" Robison
Lance Baker Fent
Michael Ney (Stevens)
They formed in Los Angeles in August 1966 from the folk-rock group "The Ashes", who included John Merrill (guitar/ vocals), Barbara "Sandi" Robison (vocals), Alan Brackett (bass/ vocals), Spencer Dryden (drums), and Jim Cherniss (guitar/ vocals). The group had earlier been known as The Young Swingers, who released two obscure singles. The Ashes released a first single in Feb. '66 on the Vault label, "Is There Anything I Can Do?" written by Jackie DeShannon. Dryden left The Ashes (May '66) to replace Skip Spence in Jefferson Airplane, Robison left (June '66) to give birth, and the group temporarily disbanded. Alan Brackett hooked up with a new guitarist, Lance Baker Fent, and a new drummer, Jim Voigt, naming the new trio "The Crossing Guards". Merrill and Robison rejoined, and the five-piece band became The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.
The group signed with Columbia Records in late 1966, releasing a single "It's A Happening Thing", produced by Gary Usher, which reached No. 93 on the national pop chart. The band's first album, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy Is Spreading, followed, also produced by Usher who brought in studio musicians including Glen Campbell and James Burton to bolster the group's sound. Their second single produced by Samuel Tarney "She's My Girl" failed to chart. Their late 1967 single "Turn On a Friend (to the Good Life)" failed to chart. However, they toured nationally, added a new guitarist, Bill Wolff, and recorded a second album for Columbia, The Great Conspiracy, generally regarded as their best. The group recorded songs for movies including: Angels from Hell, Run Angel Run, Jud, Cherry Harry and Raquel, Hell Ride, 2000 Years Later, and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
In 1968 they moved to the Warner Bros. Records subsidiary label Challenge, with a revamped line-up featuring ex-Clear Light organist Ralph Schuckett and drummer Michael Ney (Stevens), recording their final album For Children of All Ages. The record was written and conceived by Brackett. Meanwhile, Merrill had reformed a version of Ashes, whose only LP was eventually released in 1970 on the Vault label.
The Peanut Butter Conspiracy undertook a final tour and split up about 1970. Merrill and Brackett continued writing and producing for other artists. Alan Brackett worked as a music publisher and produced Randy Meisner's first solo LP after leaving the Eagles. He also produced, wrote and performed songs for scores of movies and television shows including Witness, Happy Days, and Top Gun. Robison also toured in the 1970s, but died in 1988.
Guitarist Lance Baker Fent continues to create rock-and-roll through his GreenManMedia label. The three surviving members of The Peanut Butter Conspiracy performed Alan Brackett's song, "Eventually" at Amoeba Records on September 22, 2009. The song was originally recorded in 1966 and is part of the Rhino box set, Los Angeles Nuggets — Where the Action Is. A new female singer, Karen Mitchell and drummer Jim Laspesa joined original members Alan Brackett, John Merrill and Lance Fent in the re-formation of The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.
In 2005, Spreading From The Ashes was released on Ace Records in England. It covered the years that Merrill, Robison, and Brackett were together prior and during the time they were in the Peanut Butter Conspiracy, including songs by the Young Swingers and The Ashes and many songs previously unreleased by the PBC. In 2014 a further CD was issued, Barbara, compiled by Brackett and featuring tracks recorded by Robison both with the band and elsewhere.
According to Alan Brackett: "I got together upon John's recommendation with Lance Fent and Jim Voigt and, with the help of Owsley, we learned 50 or so songs in one day and went out that night and got our choice of about three gigs in Hollywood. We played at the Sea Witch on Sunset Blvd. as the Crossing Guards. We were a power trio, and then John and Barbara joined back up with us and we changed our name to the PBC. The PBC was a name that Jim Voigt came up with-- actually it was the Peanut Butter Controversy originally, but we changed it to Conspiracy right away."
- The Peanut Butter Conspiracy Is Spreading (Columbia Records, 1967)
- The Great Conspiracy (Columbia, 1968)
- For Children of All Ages (Challenge Records, 1969)
- Spreading From The Ashes (Ace Records, 2005)
- Barbara (2014)