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The band in 1968.
|Origin||Greenwich Village, New York City, United States|
|Genres||Folk rock, Psychedelic rock|
|Years active||1965–1972, 1984–1985|
|Labels||Raccoon Records, Mercury Records|
|Associated acts||Corbitt & Daniels, The Noggins, HT Rabin, Pablo Cruise|
|Past members||Jesse Colin Young
The Youngbloods were an American folk rock band consisting of Jesse Colin Young (vocals, bass), Jerry Corbitt (guitar), Lowell Levinger, nicknamed "Banana" (guitar and electric piano), and Joe Bauer (drums). Despite receiving critical acclaim, they never achieved widespread popularity. Their only U.S. Top 40 entry was "Get Together".
Background and formation
Jesse Colin Young (born Perry Miller, November 22, 1941, Queens, New York City) was a moderately successful folk singer with two LPs under his belt – Soul of a City Boy (1964) and Youngblood (1965) – when he met fellow folk singer and former bluegrass musician from Cambridge, Jerry Corbitt (born Tifton, Georgia). When in town, Young would drop in on Corbitt, and the two played together exchanging harmonies.
Beginning in January 1965, the two began performing on the Canadian circuit as a duo, eventually adopting the name "The Youngbloods". Young played bass, and Corbitt played piano, harmonica and lead guitar. Corbitt introduced Young to a bluegrass musician, Lowell Levinger (b. Lowell Levinger III, 1946, Cambridge, Massachusetts). Levinger, known as "Banana", could play the piano, banjo, mandolin, mandola, guitar and bass; he had played in the Proper Bostoners and the Trolls, and played mainly piano and guitar in the Youngbloods. He knew of a fellow tenant who could flesh out the band, Joe Bauer (b. September 26, 1941, Memphis, Tennessee), an aspiring jazz drummer with experience playing in society dance bands.
Small gigs to recording success
Once the line-up was set, Jesse Colin Young and the Youngbloods, as the group was then known, began building a reputation from their club dates. (Early demo sides from 1965 were later issued by Mercury Records on the Two Trips album.) Their first concert had been at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village; months later, they were the house band at the Cafe Au Go Go and had signed a recording contract with RCA Records. Young, however, was not satisfied with RCA. "Nobody at [RCA] was really mean or anything; everybody was just kind of stupid," he explained to Rolling Stone magazine. "They never knew what to make of us, and tried to set us up as a bubblegum act... they never knew what we were, and never knew how to merchandise us."
The arrangement did produce one charting single in "Grizzly Bear" (#52, 1967). Several critically praised albums followed: The Youngbloods (1967, later retitled Get Together); Earth Music (1967); and Elephant Mountain (1969), with its track, "Darkness, Darkness".
In 1967, when "Get Together", a paean to universal brotherhood first appeared, it did not sell very well, reaching only No. 62 on the chart. But two years later – after Dan Ingram had recorded a brotherhood promotion for WABC-AM in which the song was used as a bed for the promotion, and after the National Council of Christians and Jews subsequently used the song as their theme song on television and radio commercials – the track was re-released and cracked the Top 5. This disc sold over one million copies, and received a gold record, awarded by the R.I.A.A. on 7 October 1969.
Johnny Carson once reportedly refused to allow the band to perform on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, saying they were overly demanding during the pre-show soundcheck. In a 2009 interview, Young stated that the band refused to perform because the show reneged on a promise that they would be allowed to play a song from their new album Elephant Mountain, instead demanding that they only play "Get Together".
With Corbitt's departure from the band (for a solo career) in 1969, before the band recorded the Elephant Mountain album, Levinger assumed lead guitar duties and played extensively on Wurlitzer electric piano. The band became adept at lengthy improvisations in their live performances (as captured on the albums Rock Festival and Ride the Wind released after the band moved over to their own Warner Brothers distributed Raccoon label).
In 1971 the group added bassist Michael Kane to their line-up and put out two more albums Good & Dusty (1971), which featured an answer to Merle Haggard's Okie from Muskogee, "Hippie from Olema", and High on a Ridgetop (1972) before disbanding. Young, Levinger and Bauer all went on to solo careers, of which only Young had any notable success. Levinger, Bauer and Kane were part of another group, Noggins, in 1972 that only lasted for one album, Crab Tunes. Bauer died of a brain tumor in September 1982, at the age of 40.
In 1971 Jerry Corbitt and former Youngbloods producer Charlie Daniels formed a band called Corbitt & Daniels and toured.
In 1976 HT Rabin, drummer from Alias, joined the Youngbloods for a brief tour.
Banana supplied guitar, banjo, synthesizer, and back-up vocals to Mimi Fariña's 1985 solo album, Solo, and also toured with her on and off from 1973 until the 1990s. During the 1980s and 1990s, he played with the jam rock band Zero on keyboards, vocals and rhythm guitar.
In late 1984, The Youngbloods briefly reunited for a club tour. The 1984 line-up contained Young, Corbitt and Levinger, plus new members David Perper (drums, ex-Pablo Cruise) and Scott Lawrence (keyboards, woodwinds). Once the tour was completed, the group disbanded once again by mid-1985.
Following the September 11, 2001 New York World Trade Center incident, the media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications included The Youngbloods' recording of "Get Together" on a list of "lyrically questionable" songs that was sent to its 1,200 radio stations in the United States.
Jerry Corbitt died on March 9, 2014.
- Jesse Colin Young – bass, guitar, vocals (1965–1972, 1984–1985)
- Jerry Corbitt – guitar, harmonica, vocals (1965–1969, 1984–1985)
- Lowell Levinger – lead guitar, piano, finger cymbals, pedal steel guitar, vocals (1965–1972, 1984–1985)
- Joe Bauer – drums (1965–1972)
- Michael Kane – bass (1971–1972)
- David Perper – drums (1984–1985)
- Scott Lawrence – keyboards, windwoods (1984–1985)
|Year||Album||US Top 200|
|The Best of the Youngbloods (Compilation)||144|
|1971||Ride the Wind (Live)||157|
|Good and Dusty||160|
|1972||High on a Ridgetop||185|
|Year||Name||US Hot 100|
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 270. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- "January to June 2014". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
- Sullivan, Steve (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Vol. 2. Scarecrow Press. p. 410. ISBN 0810882965. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
- "Billboard Singles". All Music. All Music. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
- "Jesse Colin Young--Walking Off Johnny Carson". Living Legends Music. 2009-02-05. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
- Doc Rock. "The 1980s". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
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