Spanky and Our Gang

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Spanky and Our Gang
Spanky and Our Gang (1968)
Spanky and Our Gang (1968)
Background information
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
GenresSunshine pop[1]
Years active1966–1969, 1975
LabelsMercury Records, Epic Records, Spectra Records
Past members

Spanky and Our Gang was an American 1960s sunshine pop band led by Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane. The band derives its name from Hal Roach's Our Gang comedies of the 1930s (known to modern audiences as The Little Rascals), because of the similarity of McFarlane's surname with that of George McFarland (Spanky). The group was known for its vocal harmonies and had major hits in the US and Canada in 1967–1968 with "Sunday Will Never Be the Same," "Lazy Day," "Sunday Mornin'," and "Like to Get to Know You."

History and work[edit]

Spanky McFarlane (2015)

The group's first album was released by Mercury Records on August 1, 1967, with three popular songs that were released as singles. These were "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" (their biggest hit, which reached No. 9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in the summer of 1967), followed by "Making Every Minute Count" (reached No. 31/No. 23 in Canada) and "Lazy Day" (reached No. 14).[2] Both "Sunday Will Never Be The Same" and "Lazy Day" sold over one million copies.[3] "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" was written by Terry Cashman and Gene Pistilli.[2] In an interview of Cashman on the Songfacts website, he revealed that the song was written as a ballad; however, the group "changed it, and they added the vocal, 'Ba-da-da-da-da,' which was a great hook."[4]

Their second album, Like to Get to Know You, was released in April 1968. Two singles were released: "Sunday Mornin'" in the winter, which reached No. 30 on February 10–17, 1968, and "Like to Get to Know You" in the spring, which reached No. 17 on June 8, 1968. The latter single's B-side, "Three Ways From Tomorrow", also received considerable airplay. The album included their rendition of "Stardust", and a version of folksinger Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'", subsequently a hit single for Harry Nilsson and the theme song for the movie Midnight Cowboy.

"Give a Damn" was released as a single in late summer 1968. Although not receiving airplay in several markets because of the curse word – and because it was a comment on racial equality that became the theme song for the New York Urban Coalition – the song became a regional hit and reached No. 43. The song reached #26 in the Canadian RPM magazine charts.

The band also performed the song on a November 1968 episode of ABC's The Hollywood Palace, as well as on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that resulted in CBS' Standards and Practices division receiving numerous complaints about the song's title being used during "family viewing hours".[5] One such complaint reportedly came from President Richard Nixon.[5][6] "Give a Damn" would become John Lindsay's campaign song during his successful run for mayor of New York.[7]

Malcolm Hale (1968)

On October 31, 1968, the group's lead guitarist Malcolm Hale was found dead in his Chicago home, and the coroner attributed the death to bronchial pneumonia.[8][9] A 2007 book stated that Hale "died on a Sunday at age twenty-seven from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a bad heating system".[5][10] Hale's death was a devastating blow to the group; the multi-instrumentalist did much of the arranging and largely kept the band together.[11] Hale's death, along with the group's satisfaction over what they had achieved already, led to the decision to disband early in 1969.[9] Mercury released a third album, Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhyme or Reason, in January 1969. It contained two popular songs, the previous summer's hit "Give a Damn" and "Yesterday's Rain" (#48 Canada). On August 11, 1971, Lefty Baker died of cirrhosis of the liver, about a year after he left the band. He was 32. The group briefly reformed in 1975 and recorded an album (Change) for the Epic label.[9]

Spanky McFarlane sings to Curley Tait, manager of Spanky and Our Gang, on his 84th birthday

After the band dissolved, McFarlane had some success as a solo artist. In 1975, she briefly appeared in the film Moonrunners as a rough-and-tumble bartender. She toured with The New Mamas and the Papas, singing the parts which had been performed by Cass Elliot. She portrayed "Bloody Mary" in April 2011 on stage in Ferndale Repertory Theatre's production of South Pacific.[12]

Later releases[edit]

Because of the band's continued popularity, Mercury released album collections of their greatest hits: 1969's Spanky's Greatest Hit(s), 1989's budget Give a Damn and 2005's The Best of Spanky & Our Gang: 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection. In addition, Rhino issued the 1986 The Best Of Spanky and Our Gang and Hip-O Select issued a limited-edition anthology of Spanky and Our Gang's Complete Mercury Recordings that includes never-before-released recordings and extensive liner notes.[13]


Name Birth Date Birth Place Death Date Death Place Role in Band
Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane June 19, 1942 Peoria, Illinois vocals
Nigel Pickering June 15, 1929 Pontiac, Missouri May 5, 2011 St. Augustine, Florida rhythm guitar, vocals
Paul "Oz" Bach June 24, 1939 Paw Paw, West Virginia September 21, 1998 Asheville, North Carolina bass guitar, vocals (1966–67)
Malcolm Hale May 17, 1941 Butte, Montana October 30, 1968 Chicago, Illinois lead guitar, trombone, vocals
John "The Chief" Seiter August 17, 1944 St. Louis, Missouri drums, vocals (1967–69)
Geoffrey Myers bass, vocals (1967)
Kenny Hodges August 3, 1936 Jacksonville, Florida January 29, 2013 Papillion, Nebraska bass, vocals (1967–69)
Lefty Baker (real name Eustace Britchforth Baker) January 7, 1939 Roanoke, Virginia August 11, 1971 California lead guitar, banjo, vocals (1967–69)
Jim "Moon" Scherz April 26, 1946 Levittown, New York drums (1975) and road manager



  • Spanky and Our Gang (Mercury, 1967 – #77)
  • Like to Get to Know You (Mercury, 1968 – #56)
  • Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhyme or Reason (Mercury, 1969 – #101)
  • Spanky's Greatest Hit(s) (Mercury, 1969 – #91; Canada - #78[14]) (many songs were given new stereo mixes, and on the first CD reissue, the additional overdubs were removed)
  • Spanky & Our Gang Live (Mercury, 1970, recorded in 1967)
  • Change (Epic, 1975)
  • The Best of Spanky & Our Gang (Rhino, 1986)
  • The Best of Spanky & Our Gang: 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection (Mercury, 2005)
  • The Complete Mercury Recordings (Hip-O Select, 2006) (4 discs, limited edition of 5000 (un-numbered))
  • Greatest Hits (Mercury, 2007)
  • Back Home Americana (Spectra, 2010)
  • The Singles and More (Crash, 2013)
  • The Complete Mercury Singles (Real Gone Music, 2014) – 4th disc from the Hip-O 4-CD set


Year Songs (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart Chart Album
US[15] Canada
1966 "And Your Bird Can Sing"
b/w "Sealed with a Kiss"
Non-album tracks
1967 "Sunday Will Never Be the Same"
b/w "Distance"
9 7 Spanky and Our Gang
"Making Every Minute Count"
b/w "If You Could Only Be Me"
31 23
"Lazy Day"
b/w "(It Ain't Necessarily) Byrd Avenue"
14 1
1968 "Sunday Mornin'"
b/w "Echoes"
30 23 Like to Get to Know You
"Like to Get to Know You"
b/w "Three Ways from Tomorrow"
17 5
"Give a Damn"
b/w "The Swingin' Gate"
43 26 Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhyme or Reason
"Yesterday's Rain"
b/w "Without Rhyme or Reason"
94 48
1969 "Anything You Choose"
b/w "Mecca Flat Blues"
86 79
"And She's Mine"
b/w "Leopard Skin Phones"
97 92
"Everybody's Talkin'"
b/w "It Ain't Necessarily Bird Avenue" (from Spanky and Our Gang)
126 (cashbox) 88 A-side is the same song as "Echoes"
1975 "When I Wanna"
b/w "I Won't Brand You"
1976 "L.A. Freeway"
b/w "Standing Room Only"


  1. ^ Goldenburg, Joel (27 February 2016). "Joel Goldenberg: Sunshine pop offered some respite from '60s strife". The Suburban.
  2. ^ a b Jay Warner (2006). American Singing Groups: A History from 1940 to Today. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 452–. ISBN 978-0-634-09978-6. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 230. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  4. ^ "Sunday Will Never Be The Same". Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  5. ^ a b c Eric Segalstad (April 2009). The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock and Roll. Samadhi Creations, LLC. pp. 89–. ISBN 978-0-615-18964-2. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  6. ^ Smother, Tom, Interview on "Geraldo", 1987
  7. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (20 July 1968). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 6–. ISSN 0006-2510. {{cite book}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  8. ^ "Rock Group's Arranger Dies Of Pneumonia", UPI report in Tampa Tribune, November 2, 1968, p. 21-A
  9. ^ a b c Bogdanov, Vladimir; Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2002). All music guide to rock: the definitive guide to rock, pop, and soul 3rd edition. Backbeat Books. p. 1049. ISBN 0-87930-653-X.
  10. ^ Largo, Michael (2007). The Portable Obituary: How the Famous, Rich, and Powerful Really Died. HarperCollins. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-06-123166-7.
  11. ^ Vladimir Bogdanov; Chris Woodstra; Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2002). All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul. Backbeat Books. pp. 1049–. ISBN 978-0-87930-653-3. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Ferndale Rep Stages South Pacific". Times-Standard Online. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Spanky And Our Gang – The Complete Mercury Recordings". Archived from the original on 3 November 2006. Retrieved 6 July 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  14. ^ "RPM Magazine - January 10, 1970 - Page 12" (PDF).
  15. ^ "Spanky & Our Gang | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2015.

External links[edit]