The Murmaids

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The Murmaids were a one-hit wonder all-female vocal trio composed of sisters Carol and Terry Fischer; and Sally Gordon from Los Angeles, California who, in January 1964 reached #3 with "Popsicles and Icicles".

Background[edit]

The Fischer sisters were 15 and 17 years old in 1963; Sally Gordon, also 17, was a friend and neighbor. The Fischers' father was Carl Fischer, composer of standards such as Billie Holiday's "You've Changed" and "We'll Be Together Again," sung by Frankie Laine. Carl Fischer was also musical director and arranger for Laine for twelve years. Their mother, Terry Sr., sang with the big bands of the day, ultimately becoming the first girl singer with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Their grandmother and her three sisters played the vaudeville circuit as the Locus Sisters.

Carol and Terry Fischer and Sally Gordon made their first recordings singing on demos produced by Mike Post. A schoolfriend of Terry Fischer's, Post would occasionally have the Fischer sisters and Sally Gordon provide back-up vocals on sessions at Gold Star Studios; it was there Kim Fowley - then in-house record producer at Chattahoochee Records - heard the trio and offered to record them on their own single.

"Popsicles and Icicles"[edit]

Billed as the Murmaids,[1] the Fischer sisters and Sally Gordon recorded five tracks for Fowley: "Popsicles and Icicles" (written by David Gates, the future founder and front man of the band Bread), and four other tracks – "Blue Dress", "Bunny Stomp", "Comedy and Tragedy", and "Huntington Flats" – each of which served as a B-side for one of the pressings of "Popsicles and Icicles". According to lead vocalist Terry Fischer, the Murmaids completed the tracks for an album release "a couple of weeks after we recorded the single." [2] The vocal arrangements for the Murmaids sessions were by Skip Battin.

"Popsicles and Icicles" began receiving airplay in Los Angeles in October 1963, breaking nationally in November to reach its #3 peak in Billboard and Cash Box on their charts dated 11 January 1964.[3] The Record World chart ranked "Popsicles and Icicles" at #1 for the week of 18 January; as Record World's next #1 was "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles, "Popsicles and Icicles" is sometimes cited as the last #1 of the pre-British Invasion rock and roll genre.

In the UK, "Popsicles and Icicles" was released on Stateside Records – with "Comedy and Tragedy" as the B-side. The tune did not chart, however, possibly due to the Brits' unfamiliarity with the term Popsicles, which in Britain are called "ice lollies". However, "Popsicles and Icicles" did afford the Murmaids a hit in Australia – where Popsicles are known as "ice poles" – via a W&G Records release (backed by "Comedy and Tragedy") which reached #12 in February 1964.

Aftermath[edit]

We never got an accounting.... Now, we're meeting people all over the country who say "Oh my God! I love that song." We're just amazed at how many people knew that song. We had no idea.
– Terry Fischer [2]

Terry Fischer would recall that from the time the Murmaids met Kim Fowley "within...three months we had recorded the single, recorded an album and...had risen to #3...the downside is it lasted about 6 months and then it was finished." [2] "When ["Popsicles and Icicles"] was a hit, we had calls from every major record company and mother said "No, [Chattahoochee Records owner Ruth Conti] took a chance on us and we're gonna stick with her."[2] (The Murmaids' mothers acted as the group's managers; Carl Fischer was deceased.) "I guess we did about two television shows [4] and a local concert here [in LA]. And that's all we did. At that time, we got a statement from the record company charging us an exorbitant amount of money against royalties[5]...Everyone else got paid. Kim Fowley got paid. The musicians got paid. We were paid nothing.[1]

There was an album. Terry: "A couple of weeks after we recorded the single, we went in and recorded an album which we never heard until about five years ago. We never heard it at that time and that was over forty years ago."[2] In fact Chattahoochee released two further singles off The Murmaids album: "Heartbreak Ahead" and "Wild and Wonderful" and subsequently used the Murmaids name for at least two singles which did not feature any of the three "Popsicles and Icicles" singers. The vocalists on these latterday Murmaids singles have been identified as Cathy Brasher - a solo act on the Chattahoochee roster - and Yvonne Young.[6][7] Kim Fowley has said the Murmaids joined with Jackie DeShannon to form the Chattahoochee act the Lady-Bugs, whose cover of "How Do You Do It?", the Gerry and the Pacemakers'63 UK #1, lost out to the US re-release of the original in the summer of 1964.[8] However, Terry Fischer does not mention any involvement of any of the original Murmaids in that recording.

In 1968 Liberty Records used the Murmaids name for the release of a single version of the Traffic song "Paper Sun". That was the last Murmaids single release.

Later history of Carol and Terry Fischer and Sally Gordon[edit]

After "Popsicles and Icicles" completed its chart run, Terry Fischer and Sally Gordon went off to college - Gordon going to Oregon - while Carol Fischer continued with high school.

In 1969 Terry Fischer recorded as a member of The Carnival whose self-titled album on Liberty was produced by Bones Howe; the Carnival also featured Janis Hansen and Jose Suares both former members of Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66. Subsequently Terry Fischer had a prolific career as a background vocalist with television appearances on Kraft Music Hall, The Merv Griffin Show, the Jerry Lewis Telethon and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and live work with Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, Don Rickles, Sonny and Cher and Tina Turner. Terry Fischer's career highlight came in 1977: while working as a percussionist and vocalist supporting Fabian in Lake Tahoe she was spotted by sax player Sam Butera and invited to sing with Sam Butera and the Witnesses on their gig opening Frank Sinatra's Ol' Blue Eyes is Back Tour.[9]

Carol Fischer married John Morell, a prolific session guitarist. The couple have two sons Justin and Christopher, both musicians.

In 1995, Collectables Records issued a Golden Classics remastered CD of "Popsicles and Icicles" featuring the original trio.

In 1998, the Fischer sisters reformed the Murmaids with a third singer, Cynthia Perry (replaced by Petra Rowell, replaced herself by Suzi Robertson), debuting the new act at a 'Legends of Rock 'n Roll' show in Los Angeles in October of that year. They subsequently released a CD called The Murmaids Splash Back.

The Fischers have recently discovered 42 unpublished songs by their father, and are currently at work recording them for an album tentatively titled, Songs Our Father Wrote.

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • 1963 "Popsicles and Icicles" (backed with one of four different tracks: "Bunny Stomp", "Huntington Flats", "Comedy and Tragedy", "Blue Dress"; all Chattahoochee 628)
  • 1964 "Heartbreak Ahead" / "He's Good To Me" - Chattahoochee 636
  • 1964 "Wild And Wonderful" / "Bull Talk" - Chattahoochee 641
  • 1965 "Stuffed Animals" / "Little White Lies" - Chattahoochee 668 (also released as The Half-Sisters)
  • 1966 "Go Away" / "Little Boys" - Chattahoochee 711
  • 1968 "Paper Sun" / "Song Through Perception" - Liberty 56078

Albums[edit]

  • 1980 LP The Murmaids Resurface - Chattahoochee CHLP 628
  • 1995 CD Popsicles and Icicles - Collectables
  • 2002 CD Murmaids Splash Back! - The Orchard

Compilation tracks[edit]

  • "Popsicles, Icicles" on CD 1964 Classic Rock: The Beat Goes On - Time-Life

References[edit]

External links[edit]