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The group in 1966. From left: Rick Andridge, Daryl Hooper, Sky Saxon, and Jan Savage
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Genres||Psychedelic rock, garage rock, proto-punk, acid rock|
|Years active||1965–1969, 1969–1972 (as Sky Saxon and the Seeds)|
|Labels||GNP Crescendo, MGM Records, Bam Caruso|
|Past members||Sky Saxon
Pioneers of mid-sixties garage rock and acid rock, the Seeds are widely recognized for coining the phrase, "Flower Power", and developed a sound and aesthetic later acknowledged as paving the way for seventies punk rock. Before the band's formation, lead singer Sky Saxon had a professional musical career that predated The Beatles, when he recorded a string of 45s under the name Richie Marsh. Born in Salt Lake City, he'd relocated to Los Angeles and was making records in the early 1960s. The Seeds were formed in 1965 with Saxon joining as a response to an advertisement. The band secured regular gigs at the LA club Bido Lito's and quickly gained a local reputation for high energy live performances. Keyboardist Daryl Hooper was a major factor in the Seeds' sound; the band was one of the first to utilize keyboard bass. Guitarists Jan Savage and Jeremy Levine along with drummer Rick Andridge completed the original quintet, but Levine left shortly after the first recording sessions for personal reasons. Although Sky Saxon was usually credited as bass player, he did not play bass on any of the Seeds' recordings. This was handled by session musicians, usually one Harvey Sharpe. On stage, keyboardist Daryl Hooper would perform the bass parts via a separate bass keyboard, in the same manner as Ray Manzarek later did with The Doors.
The Seeds' first single "Can't Seem to Make You Mine" was a regional hit in Southern California in 1965. The song was also played regularly on AM rock stations in northern California (and probably elsewhere), where it was well received by listeners, and eventually went on to become, and is considered today, a 60s cult classic song. The band had a national Top 40 hit, "Pushin' Too Hard", in 1966 and performed the song on national television. Three subsequent singles, "Mr. Farmer" (also 1966), a re-release of "Can't Seem To Make You Mine" (1967), and "A Thousand Shadows" (1967) achieved more modest success, although all were most popular in southern California. Musically uncomplicated with a flair for simple melodic hooks and dominated by Saxon's unorthodox vocal delivery, their first two albums, The Seeds and A Web of Sound, are today considered classics of '60s garage music.
A major turning point for the Seeds came in 1967. The band's self-produced third album Future presented a grander psychedelic artistic statement and thrust the group forward as torchbearers during perhaps the most creative and experimental time in American pop culture and music history. The more expansive musical style with accompanying orchestration - presented with a gatefold sleeve featuring ornate flower-themed artwork by painter Sassin - was a departure from the rawer tone of the band's previous hits, but nevertheless received acclaim from fans and critics as a notable work of flower power psychedelia. It remains a genre curiosity piece today and is regarded as a pioneering effort in full-blown psychedelic rock. Iggy Pop, Smashing Pumpkins, The Bangles and members of the Beach Boys have all sourced the band, mentioning this album and previous ones as genre classics. The release of Future in mid-1967 generally marked the commercial peak of the Seeds’ career, coinciding with a major national hit, raucous concerts, numerous live TV performances, as well as prominent guest appearances on the NBC sitcom The Mothers-in-Law and in the hippie/counterculture-themed cult film Psych-Out. The Seeds also recorded another album devoted specifically to the blues (with liner notes by Muddy Waters). A Full Spoon of Seedy Blues, bearing the artist moniker Sky Saxon Blues Band, was released in November 1967.
In May 1968 the band released their final LP for GNP Crescendo Records, Raw & Alive: The Seeds in Concert at Merlin's Music Box, which musically revisited their more aggressive garage rock roots. However, the album and it's accompanying single "Satisfy You" both failed to chart nationally. By mid-1968, with the group's commercial popularity flagging, personnel began to change. The band was renamed "Sky Saxon and the Seeds" in 1969, by which point Bob Norsoph (guitar) and Don Boomer (drums) had replaced Savage and Andridge respectively. Saxon continued to use the name "The Seeds", utilizing various backup musicians, at least through 1972. The last major-label records of new material by The Seeds —two non-charting singles on MGM records — were released in 1970.
After the dissolution of the Seeds, Sky Saxon joined the Yahowha religious group, inspired by their leader Father Yod. Although a member of the Source Family for several years, Saxon did not participate in any of the albums released by Yahowha 13 in the mid 1970s. He does appear on the "Golden Sunrise" album by Fire Water Air, which was a Yahowha 13 offshoot, and later recorded the "Yod Ship Suite" album in memory of the deceased Father Yod. In the 1970s, Saxon also released the solo LPs "Lovers Cosmic Voyage" (credited to Sunlight) and "Live At The Orpheum" credited to Sunlight Rainbow. In the 1980s, Saxon collaborated with several bands—including Redd Kross and The Chesterfield Kings—before reforming the original Seeds in 1989 to headline "The Summer of Love Tour", along with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Arthur Lee and Love, The Music Machine, and The Strawberry Alarm Clock.
The Seeds remained dormant again until 2003, when Saxon reformed them with original guitarist Jan Savage and newcomers Rik Collins on bass, Mark Bellgraph on guitar, and Dave Klein on keyboards. This new version of the Seeds went through several incarnations, with Savage departing midway through their 2003 European tour due to his health. Saxon remained the only original member of the Seeds, which continued to tour Europe and the United States. Saxon died on June 25, 2009 of heart and renal failure. The Seeds' original drummer Rick Andridge died in 2011.
Legacy and influence
The Seeds have been among the most frequently cited pre-punk influences by American punk musicians since the 1970s. Cover versions of various Seeds songs have been recorded by The Dwarves, Alex Chilton, Johnny Thunders, The Ramones, Yo La Tengo, Garbage, Murder City Devils, Spirits in the Sky, Paul Parker, Pere Ubu, The Makers, The Embarrassment, The Bangles, The Rubinoos, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and other artists. Some lyrics in Frank Zappa's album Joe's Garage satirically refer to "Pushin' Too Hard": "You're plooking too hard, Plooking too hard on ME".
A feature-length documentary film about the Seeds has been prepared by GNP Crescendo Records President Neil Norman, the son of the label's founder Gene Norman. Filming began in 2007, and draws on first-hand knowledge of the band, interviews and concert footage. The film titled Pushin' Too Hard - directed by Norman, produced by Alec Palao, and narrated by Pamela Des Barres - premiered August 16, 2014 at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. The film continues to appear sporadically in various cities for cinematic screenings. A DVD release is expected to follow, though no official release date has been announced.
- The Seeds 1966
- A Web of Sound 1966
- Future 1967
- A Full Spoon of Seedy Blues (as the Sky Saxon Blues Band) 1967
- Raw & Alive: The Seeds in Concert at Merlin's Music Box 1968
- Fallin' Off the Edge 1977
- Bad Part of Town 1982
- Evil Hoodoo 1988
- Travel with Your Mind 1993
- Red Planet 2004
- Back to the Garden 2008
- The Seeds (reissued in mono with unreleased tracks) 2013
- Web of Sound (double CD mono/stereo reissued with unreleased tracks) 2014
- Future (double CD mono/stereo reissued with unreleased tracks) 2014
- Raw & Alive (double CD two concerts, the original without screaming and with crowd, and another earlier studio concert) 2014
|Year||Song||Peak chart positions|
|U.S. Billboard||U.S. Cashbox||CAN|
|1965||"Can't Seem to Make You Mine"
b/w "I'll Tell Myself"
|"Pushin' Too Hard"
b/w "Out of the Question"
|1966||"Pushin' Too Hard" (re-release)
b/w "Try to Understand"
b/w "Up in Her Room"
|"Can't Seem to Make You Mine" (re-release)
b/w "Daisy Mae"
|"A Thousand Shadows"
b/w "March of the Flower Children"
|"The Wind Blows Your Hair"
b/w "Six Dreams"
b/w "900 Million People Daily Making Love"
|1969||"Fallin' Off the Edge of My Mind"
b/w "Wild Blood"
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
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- Official website of Sky Saxon and The Seeds - Tribute album details here
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- "The Lama Workshop", psychedelic music site with detailed history of Sky Saxon's recordings
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