The Poppy Family

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The Poppy Family
OriginVancouver, British Columbia, Canada
GenresPsychedelic pop
Years active1968–1972; 2017
Past membersSusan Jacks
Terry Jacks
Craig McCaw
Satwant Singh

The Poppy Family was a Canadian psychedelic pop group based in Vancouver. They had a number of international hit records in the late 1960s and early 1970s.[1]


Seventeen-year-old Susan Pesklevits met Terry Jacks in the mid-1960s when he appeared as a guest on the national teen TV show Music Hop where she was a regular performer. She later called Jacks to accompany her on rhythm guitar for one of her live appearances. Eventually, although she continued to do solo shows on television, with the addition of Craig McCaw on lead guitar, Susan decided that all her live performances would be as part of her newly formed trio. The name Poppy Family was chosen when Susan, Terry and Craig were searching for a new name and, in a dictionary, came across those two words, defined as "varied species of flowering plant, etc.", and felt it applied to them. Susan and Terry were married in 1967 and Susan Pesklevits became Susan Jacks. Craig McCaw later introduced Satwant Singh on tabla drums from India and the Poppy Family's unique sound was complete.

With Susan Jacks on lead vocals, harmony vocals and percussion, Terry Jacks on rhythm guitar and occasional vocals, Craig McCaw on guitar/sitar and Satwant Singh on tablas/drums and other percussion, the group recorded their first album, from which came their international hit "Which Way You Goin' Billy?" (No. 1 in Canada, No. 1 in Cashbox and No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100). The album also produced "That's Where I Went Wrong" (No. 9 in Canada, No. 29 in the US). Both songs were Top 10 Adult Contemporary chart hits as well.

Their second and last album Poppy Seeds was recorded with studio musicians after Satwant and Craig both quit the band following their engagement at Expo '70 in Japan. Although the Poppy Family name continued to be used, Terry's participation as a musician and singer was limited. Poppy Seeds contained their hits "Where Evil Grows" (No. 6 in Canada,[2] No. 45 US), "Good Friends?" (No. 10 in Canada, "Bubbling Under" No. 105, and Adult Contemporary chart, US), "Tryin'" (No. 12 Country chart in Canada), "I Was Wondering" (No. 3 AC in Canada, US Top No. 100), "No Good to Cry" (No. 8 in Canada, US Top No. 100), and "I'll See You There" (No. 1 AC chart in Canada). "Where Evil Grows"[3] and "Good Friends?" both also hit the US AC chart. The Poppy Family's first two Canadian releases were "Beyond the Clouds" (1968), "What Can The Matter Be?" (1969).

At their career peak, Susan and Terry appeared on Bobby Darin's successful 1970 television variety special, The Darin Invasion, which was filmed in Canada. They also appeared on other variety shows including Rollin' on the River with Kenny Rogers and The George Kirby Special. During television appearances, Terry lip-synced the harmonies while Susan sang her own harmony vocals. When doing a song like "Which Way You Goin' Billy?" Terry's lip syncing would give them a real "group like" presence. Susan enjoyed performing live, but Terry did not want to tour and their career ultimately suffered.

The "Which Way You Goin' Billy?" single earned the group two 1970 Gold Leaf (Juno) Awards as well as two Moffatt Awards in 1970. The Juno Award is Canada's equivalent of the Grammy Award. The single version of "Which Way You Goin' Billy" went on to sell a total of more than 3½ million worldwide, and was awarded a million-selling Gold disc from the RIAA.[4]

The Poppy Family name was dropped in 1972 and, although Terry had been releasing singles under his own name since 1970, together they recorded their solo albums, Susan's I Thought of You Again and Terry's Seasons in the Sun. Susan left the marriage in early 1973 before the albums were released.[5]

"Where Evil Grows" is used in Season 2 Episode 4 of Killing Eve.

"Where Evil Grows" is also used in the 2020 film Sonic the Hedgehog for a scene where the movie's villain, Dr. Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey, dances to the song.[6]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart
1969 Which Way You Goin' Billy?[7] 22 76 London
1971 Poppy Seeds 16

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Label
1996 A Good Thing Lost W.A.R.


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
AUS[10] NZ
1968 "Beyond the Clouds" 75 Which Way You Goin' Billy?
1969 "What Can the Matter Be" 53
"Which Way You Goin' Billy?" 1 5 2 6 95 7
1970 "That's Where I Went Wrong" 9 8 29 7 61 20
"Shadows on My Wall" 7
1971 "I Was Wondering" 27 3 100 Poppy Seeds
"Where Evil Grows" 6 2 45 16
"No Good to Cry" 8 8 80
1972 "I'll See You There" 1
"Good Friends" 10 1 105 34
"Tryin'" 12
1973 "You Don't Know What Love Is" 116

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Bennett (September 30, 1972). "Western Canada:Activity abounds on all fronts". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 48–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  2. ^ Ritchie York (July 17, 1971). "From the Music Capitals of the World". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 47–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  3. ^ Deadhead, Daisy (January 3, 2010). "Dead Air Church : Where Evil Grows". Dead Air. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  4. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 265. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  5. ^ "Poppy Family". Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  6. ^ Moran, Sarah (February 15, 2020). "Every Song On The Sonic The Hedgehog Movie Soundtrack". ScreenRant. Retrieved March 8, 2023.
  7. ^ "The 50 albums that shaped Vancouver". Georgia Straight, May 3, 2017. by John Lucas, Adrian Mack, Steve Newton, Mike Usinger, Alexander Varty.
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 707. ISBN 978-0-89820-188-8.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 190.
  10. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 236. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  11. ^ "Flavour of New Zealand – search listener".

External links[edit]