Harpers Bizarre

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Harpers Bizarre
Harpers Bizarre in 1967
Harpers Bizarre in 1967
Background information
OriginSanta Cruz, California, United States
GenresSunshine pop, baroque pop
Years active1967–1970; 1976
LabelsWarner Bros., Forest Bay, Sundazed
Past membersTed Templeman
Dick Scoppettone
Tom Sowell
Eddie James
Dick Yount
John Petersen

Harpers Bizarre was an American sunshine pop band of the 1960s, best known for their Broadway/sunshine pop sound and their cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)."

Career[edit]

Harpers Bizarre was formed out of the Tikis, a band from Santa Cruz, California, which had some local successes with Beatlesque songs in the mid 1960s.[1] The Tikis had been signed to Tom Donahue's Autumn Records from 1965 to 1966 and had released two singles on that label.[2][3] In 1967, record producer Lenny Waronker got hold of the Simon & Garfunkel song "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," determined to make it into a hit single. The Tikis recorded it using an arrangement created by Leon Russell, featuring extended harmonies reminiscent of the work of Brian Wilson or even the Swingle Singers. The song was released under a new band name, "Harpers Bizarre" (a play on the magazine Harper's Bazaar), so as not to alienate the Tikis' fanbase.[1] The Harpers Bizarre version of the song reached No. 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1967,[4][5] far exceeding any success that the Tikis thus far had. The track reached No. 34 on the UK Singles Chart.[6]

The success of the single prompted Harpers Bizarre to record their debut album. At this point, the band consisted of Ted Templeman (born October 24, 1942; vocals, drums, guitar); Dick Scoppettone (born July 5, 1945; vocals, guitar, bass); Eddie James (guitar); Dick Yount (bass, vocals) and John Petersen (January 8, 1945 – November 11, 2007; drums, percussion, vocals). Petersen had previously already enjoyed a brief spell of success as member of the Beau Brummels;[1] James left after the release of the group's second album and was replaced by Tom Sowell. Under the guidance of producer Lenny Waronker (and Templeman, who emerged as the leader of the group), Harpers Bizarre developed a unique sound which experimented with heavy vocal layering. Most of Harpers Bizarre's recordings are cheerful and airy, both in subject matter and musical accompaniment, often with string and woodwind arrangements. Their music is most closely associated with the sunshine pop and baroque pop genres.

In addition to covering several old standards (including Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" and Glenn Miller's "Chattanooga Choo Choo"), Harpers Bizarre also recorded the work of several contemporary songwriters, Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks and Harry Nilsson, who also appear on their recordings in the guise of session musicians and/or arrangers. Neither Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, nor Harry Nilsson were ever members of the Tikis or Harpers Bizarre.[7] One of their recordings was the mildly controversial Randy Newman number "The Biggest Night of Her Life", about a schoolgirl who is "too excited to sleep" because she has promised to lose her virginity on her sixteenth birthday to a boy, whom her parents like "because his hair is always neat".

After the band's initial chart ascendancy with "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)", none of Harpers Bizarre's subsequent singles achieved the same level of success. "Chattanooga Choo Choo" did reach No. 1 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart, despite a drug reference ("do another number down in Carolina"). The band broke up shortly after their last album was released in 1969. Templeman has stated that they broke up over whether to continue with their producer: "Well, the lowdown was that the rest of the band didn't want Lenny to produce us anymore, but I did. So, it was me against them. (Laughs) And that was it."[8]

On October 31, 1969, while returning to San Francisco after playing a concert in Pasadena, California, the group's TWA flight was hijacked. All the passengers were safely released in Denver, Colorado.[9] However, the plane and its crew continued on to Rome, Italy where the hijacker was apprehended.[10] This incident covered 6,900 miles, the longest distance ever covered in an airplane hijacking incident.[11] Scoppettone later described the hijack as "the best publicity we ever had, by a mile".[12]

Also in 1969, they were guests on NBC' The Spring Thing, a musical television special hosted by Bobbie Gentry and Noel Harrison. Other guests included were Goldie Hawn, Meredith MacRae, Irwin C. Watson, Rod McKuen, and Shirley Bassey.[13]

In 1967, they contributed the title song for the short-lived ABC-TV series Malibu U, starring Ricky Nelson.

Their music can also be heard in the 1968 film I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, and their rendition of "Anything Goes" is heard over the opening scenes, as well as the trailer of the 1970 film The Boys in the Band.

Ted Templeman would go on to produce recordings for several established artists, including Van Morrison, Bette Midler, and Carly Simon, and help launch the careers of a number of new artists, like The Doobie Brothers, Nicolette Larson, Montrose, and Van Halen.

In 1976, a partial reunion of the group occurred (without Templeman) to record an album, As Time Goes By, which is often overlooked in Harpers Bizarre discographies.[citation needed]

Drummer John Petersen, husband of Templeman's sister Roberta, died suddenly on November 11, 2007 of a heart attack.[14] Dick Yount died in March 2019.[7]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

The Big Beat Records compilation albums Dance with Me: The Autumn Teen Sound (1994) and Someone to Love: The Birth of the San Francisco Sound (1996) contain the Tikis' two 45s and several previously unreleased recordings.

Singles[edit]

Year Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positions Album
US US
AC
UK
1965 "If I've Been Dreaming"
b/w "Pay Attention to Me"
Non-album tracks
1966 "Lost My Love Today"
b/w "Bye Bye Bye"
Above two singles shown as by The Tikis
1967 "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)"
b/w "Lost My Love Today" (Non-album track)
13 4 34 Feelin' Groovy
"Come to the Sunshine"
b/w "The Debutante's Ball"
37
"Anything Goes"
b/w "Malibu U." (Non-album track)
43 6 33 Anything Goes
"Chattanooga Choo Choo"
b/w "Hey, You in the Crowd"
45 1
1968 "Cotton Candy Sandman"
b/w "Virginia City" (from Anything Goes)
Harpers Bizarre 4
"Both Sides Now"
b/w "Small Talk"
123 38 Non-album tracks
"Battle of New Orleans"
b/w "Green Apple Tree"
95 21 The Secret Life of Harpers Bizarre
"I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!"
b/w "Look to the Rainbow" (from The Secret Life of Harpers Bizarre)
Harpers Bizarre 4
1969 "Knock on Wood"
b/w "Witchi Tai To"
1970 "Poly High"
b/w "Soft Soundin' Music" (from Harpers Bizarre 4)
Non-album track
"Anything Goes"
b/w "Virginia City"
Anything Goes
"If We Ever Needed the Lord Before"
b/w "Mad" (from The Secret Life of Harpers Bizarre)
Non-album tracks
1972 "Poly High"
b/w "Knock on Wood" (from Harpers Bizarre 4)
1976 "Down at Papa Joe's"
b/w "As Time Goes By"
As Time Goes By
"You Gotta Make Your Own Sunshine"
b/w "Young Love"
Non-album tracks
"Say Goodbye to 18 Yellow Roses"
b/w "It's All Over Now"
1973 "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" (UK chart reentry)
b/w "Anything Goes" and "Chattanooga Choo Choo" (both from Anything Goes)
52 Feelin' Groovy

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Sculatti, Gene (1997). Feelin' Groovy: The Best of Harpers Bizarre. (1997 CD liner notes).
  2. ^ Ruhlmann, William. Biography of Harpers Bizarre at AllMusic. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  3. ^ Eder, Bruce. Biography of The Tikis at AllMusic. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  4. ^ Billboard Singles for Harpers Bizarre at AllMusic. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  5. ^ "Harpers Bizarre". Billboard. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  6. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 244. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. ^ a b Dick Scoppettone
  8. ^ Greenwald, M. "The Ted Templeman interview". Harpers Bizarre Lyrics Page. Die Augenweide. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
  9. ^ "Capture Gunman in Chapel After Hijacking Plane on Longest Flight in History". The Gettysburg Times. November 1, 1969. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  10. ^ "An Ex-Skyjacker Who Survived An Earthquake Himself Rushes Aid to Italy's Homeless". Time Inc. December 15, 1980. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  11. ^ Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network
  12. ^ Hughes, Roland (October 26, 2019). "The longest and most spectacular plane hijack". BBC News. Retrieved December 25, 2019.
  13. ^ Terrace, Vincent (June 6, 2013). Television Specials: 5,336 Entertainment Programs, 1936-2012, 2d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9781476612409.
  14. ^ "John Petersen Obituary - San Francisco, CA". Legacy.com.

Further reading[edit]

Templeman, Ted; Renoff, Greg (2020). Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer's Life In Music. Toronto: ECW Press. pp. 65–101. ISBN 9781770414839. OCLC 1121143123.