Fifty Years Later, Archie’s (Still) Here!

Archie ad TV Guide 9-14-68

On September 14, 1968, The Archie Show made its Saturday-morning debut on CBS-TV—and life as we know it instantly changed for the better.

This may sound like an exaggeration, but look at the facts: Without The Archie Show, there would be no Archies musical group. And without The Archies, there would be no “Sugar, Sugar.” Not to even mention the other ten singles recorded by the “fictional” group, several of which made the charts in the United States and other countries; and the six albums (five studio, one greatest-hits compilation) released during the same time period. From 1968 through 1971, when the group disbanded, The Archies enjoyed moderate-to-spectacular success on the music charts, with “Sugar, Sugar” going all the way to #1 in the US, the UK, and Canada and the followup single, “Jingle Jangle,” not only reaching the Top Ten in the States but earning the group their second #1 designation in Canada (Montreal native Andy Kim co-wrote both songs) as well as their second gold record. Not bad for a group that neither granted interviews nor made personal appearances.

But all of this was still in the future when The Archie Show had its premiere that Saturday morning fifty years ago, and the principals involved—music supervisor Don Kirshner, producer Jeff Barry, and lead singer Ron Dante on the music side, and Filmation producers Norm Prescott and Lou Scheimer and director Hal Sutherland on the animation side—probably had no way of knowing what lay ahead for either the show or the group. In fact, by the time “Sugar, Sugar” began ascending the charts, The Archie Show had changed formats and become the Archie Comedy Hour. But the original Archie Show was half this length, thirty minutes consisting of two separate storylines with a new dance and song of the week sandwiched in between. It was also the first Saturday-morning cartoon to utilize a laugh track. Voice actors for the series included Dallas McKennon, Jane Webb, John Erwin, and Howard Morris. Toni Wine provided the female vocals for The Archies (most notably on “Sugar, Sugar”) until moving on to other projects in 1970; Donna Marie subsequently got the gig and features prominently on The Archies’ fifth single, “Who’s Your Baby.”

What began as The Archie Show was on the air (in multiple formats and with several different titles) until 1978. Yet the popular animated series now celebrating its golden anniversary was actually not the first medium outside of the comics to present the Archie gang. The radio program Archie Andrews, with Bob Hastings portraying the titular redhead for most of its run, could be heard on the airwaves from 1943 to 1953. In 1964, a pilot for an eponymous live-action television show was filmed but never ordered to series. It was the advent of the animated cartoon and the music group 50 years ago that, directly or indirectly, led to an evolution that would ultimately result in one of the most popular television shows on the air today—the critically acclaimed Riverdale, starring KJ Apa as Archie, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge, and Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones/series narrator. Although there is no “Archies” group per se, there have been several musical performances by the characters including a cheerleading scene which pays homage to the hit that started it all, “Sugar, Sugar.”

It is certainly commendable that the characters first created in 1941 by John L. Goldwater and Bob Montana have not only endured for so many years but have managed to remain relevant in an era of computers, the Internet, cable television, DVR’s, digital music, and smartphones. Yet let us not forget that, to a large extent, the catalyst was a half-hour animated children’s program that debuted in an era of transistor radios, vinyl records, rotary phones, and TV by appointment. The 50th anniversary of the premiere of The Archie Show is definitely a milestone worth celebrating.

 

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Happy Together Tour 2018

Happy Together 2018

For many folks who love the great music of the 1960s, the Happy Together Tour has been a welcomed and gleefully anticipated annual concert event since 2010. Originally begun in 1984, the 2018 Happy Together Tour launches on June 7 in Jacksonville, Florida; and, as always, will feature The Turtles as headliners, along with other hitmakers from the ’60s-early ’70s era. This year, however, there’s a Turtle twist: Instead of Flo and Eddie, concertgoers will be treated to Flo and Ronnie! As The Turtles announced in January, Howard Kaylan (“Eddie”) is sitting out the tour this year due to a medical issue, and Ron Dante, best known as lead singer for The Archies, will be filling his spot on stage alongside Mark Volman.

“It’s a great honor to be asked by Mark and Howard to fill in this summer,” Ron shares. “I’m really looking forward to this tour especially as I get to sing all those classic Turtles songs. Can’t wait for the opening song to begin playing … I’ll be singing the Turtles songs true to the original records.”

In addition to The Turtles, this year’s lineup is as follows:

Chuck Negron formerly of Three Dog Night
Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
The Association
Mark Lindsay, former Lead Singer of Paul Revere & The Raiders
The Cowsills

This year’s Happy Together Tour encompasses some four dozen dates. Below is a list of the first stops on the tour:

June 7 – Jacksonville, FL, Florida Theatre
June 8 – Biloxi, MI, IP Casino Resort & Spa
June 9 – Montgomery, AL, Montgomery Performing Arts Center
June 10 – Clearwater, FL, Ruth Eckerd Hall
June 13 – Greensburg, PA, Palace Theatre
June 14 – Tarrytown, NY, Tarrytown Music Hall
June 15 – New Brunswick, NJ, State Theatre
June 16 – Lynn, MA, Lynn Auditorium
June 17 – Northampton, MA, Calvin Theatre
June 19 – Englewood, NJ, Bergen Performing Arts Center

The complete itinerary is included in the article below (or you can check out the artists’ websites).

The Turtles’ Howard Kaylan sitting out 2018 Happy Together Tour; trek’s full lineup and itinerary revealed

Also see:

Mark Volman excited about upcoming ‘Happy Together’ tour with The Turtles, but without Flo & Eddie

 

Andy Kim To Be Inducted Into Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame

It's Decided

Andy Kim Announces 11th Annual Christmas Show, Is 2016 Inductee to Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame

The past couple of weeks have been busy but very exciting ones for Andy Kim. The Montreal-born singer has just wrapped up a tour of western Canada and is about to start gearing up for his next scheduled appearance, the 11th annual Andy Kim Christmas Show (December 9 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto). On Thursday, October 29, Kim found time to sit down with Jeremy Dodge on CTV Morning Live in Saskatoon to discuss his storied career in music. In addition, Canadian Music Week has announced Andy Kim as 2016 inductee to the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame—a honor truly deserved.


Edit: 22 Nov 2015

Lineup for the 11th annual Andy Kim Christmas Show (9 Dec 2015) has been announced. Artists include:

  • Tom Cochrane
    Barenaked Ladies
    Cowboy Junkies’ Michael and Margo Timmins
    The Trews
    Ron Sexsmith
    Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning
    Honeymoon Suite
    Kardinal Offishall
    Finger Eleven
    Tom Wilson
    Tomi Swick

In addition, the event is going to be live streamed on the Internet. All proceeds from the show will be donated to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation Gifts of Light.


Edit: 28 Nov 2015

The Andy Kim Christmas Show will also take place in Montreal at the Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre on 12 December 2015. Lineup will include Ron Sexsmith, Kevin Drew, Sam Roberts Band, Brendan Canning, and Amy Millan among others. Click on one of the links above for ticket info.


Kim got his start as a teenager in the famed Brill Building in New York City, meeting songwriter-producer Jeff Barry and recording a number of singles and albums for Barry’s own Steed Records label, including “How’d We Ever Get This Way,” “Shoot ‘Em Up, Baby” (which Kim recently re-recorded for his newest studio album, It’s Decided) and “So Good Together,” as well as remakes of the Ronettes hits “Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You,” both Barry with Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector and the latter of which earned Kim his first gold record in 1969. That same year, the Andy Kim/Jeff Barry-composed “Sugar, Sugar” was released by The Archies and went on to reach #1 on the charts and become RIAA Record of the Year; it too went gold as did the band’s followup single, “Jingle Jangle,” also penned by the Barry/Kim team. In 1974, with Jeff Barry having dissolved Steed Records, Kim recorded the self-penned “Rock Me Gently” and released it on his own label, Ice Records. The success of the single in Canada led Capitol Records to sign him to a recording contract and release the record here in the States where it soared to the top of the charts and added another gold record to Kim’s collection.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Kim recorded under the name Baron Longfellow (a moniker bestowed upon him by his manager at the time, the late Gordon Mills) before reverting back to Andy Kim in the new millennium. In 2010, Kim’s first studio album in 20 years, Happen Again, was released; earlier this year, 2015, Kim released It’s Decided, produced by Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and released on Drew’s Arts & Crafts label. A short documentary of the same name was filmed in Manhattan during Kim and Drew’s sojourn to the city last March to perform one of the album’s cuts, “Sister OK,” on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Click to read the announcement from Canadian Music Week

Read more about the 2016 Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame induction.

Andy Kim – It’s Decided (Short Documentary):

“Rock Me Gently” (live) – Andy Kim, 1974

“Sugar, Sugar” (live) – Baron Longfellow (aka Andy Kim), 1983

“Shoot ‘Em Up Baby” – Andy Kim (2015 version)

It’s Decided: Andy Kim Releases New Album

Andy Kim

Montreal native Andy Kim, who shot to fame in the late 1960s-early 70s with tunes such as “Baby, I Love You” (singer), “Sugar, Sugar” (composer), and “Rock Me Gently” (both), has just finalized work on his newest album. Written and produced with Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew, It’s Decided is scheduled to hit the streets in February 2015.

While just a teenager, Kim joined forces with legendary Brill Building songwriter and producer Jeff Barry. Signed to Barry’s label, Steed Records, Kim was a steady presence on the charts for several years, beginning in 1968 with his first Steed single, “How’d We Ever Get This Way.” More hits followed—remakes of The Ronettes’ “Baby, I Love You” (which earned Kim his first gold record) and “Be My Baby,” and originals such as “So Good Together,” “Rainbow Ride,” and “Shoot ‘Em Up, Baby.” The latter has been re-recorded for Kim’s newest album, with a fantastic new arrangement; you can listen to this glorious new version by accessing the player below.

During his years with Barry, Kim collaborated with his producer and mentor on several tunes to be recorded not just by Kim but by other artists as well. One of these, “Sugar, Sugar,” by The Archies (studio singers Ron Dante and Toni Wine), sailed to the top of the charts, earning a gold record and becoming the RIAA Record of the Year for 1969. The band’s follow-up single, “Jingle Jangle,” also composed by the Barry/Kim team, didn’t do too badly either, hitting the Top Ten and garnering a second gold disc for the group. In 1974, Kim earned a second gold disc as a recording artist with the self-penned classic “Rock Me Gently.” After the success of this single and an eponymous LP released on Capitol Records, Kim laid low for a few years before re-emerging in 1980 under the name Baron Longfellow; “Amour,” his first single under his new moniker, enjoyed chart success in his native Canada.

Having returned to using the name Andy Kim in the 1990s, the singer teamed up with Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson for the single “I Forgot to Mention” in 2004. Kim’s first album in 20 years, Happen Again, was released in 2010. Now, in conjunction with Kevin Drew and Arts & Crafts Productions, Kim is presenting his newest collection of contemporary music—which, if the track samples are any indication (and they are), promises to appeal to old and new fans alike. The beauty of Kim’s voice remains unchanged; time has not altered its clarity, strength, or captivating nuances. It’s Decided is available on Amazon.com as an MP3 album (release date 24 February 2015); preorder now and enjoy an immediate download of “Shoot ‘Em Up, Baby.”

See also: Andy Kim artist page on Oldies Connection

Edit (26 January 2015): “Longest Time” by Andy Kim, from the forthcoming album It’s Decided

“Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies: Still sweet after 45 years

Sugar, Sugar - The Archies

It was forty-five years ago today—September 20, 1969—when The Archies‘ “Sugar, Sugar” reached #1 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100. This was a remarkable feat for a group that had never toured or made personal appearances, mainly because the band was, well, animated. Yet this animated band managed to not only hit the top spot on the charts but to remain there for a solid four weeks, with “Sugar, Sugar” ultimately becoming the #1 song of the year and garnering a gold record from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

“Sugar, Sugar” was actually The Archies’ third single, preceded by “Bang Shang a-Lang” and “Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y.-D.O.O.).” Like the latter tune, “Sugar” was composed by producer Jeff Barry and Andy Kim; and, as with all of The Archies’ recordings*, the lead vocals were provided by session singer Ron Dante (who, incidentally, went on to have an enormously successful career as a producer himself, working with Barry Manilow and Cher among others). Ron was kind enough to provide some details of the session, which he modestly referred to as “just another Archies session at RCA Studio C in New York.”

Ron Dante:

Jeff Barry and Andy Kim were working on the Sugar, Sugar track when I arrived to do vocals. Jeff was working with the band to get just the right feel for the song. Andy [played] guitar for the band to show them just the right tempo and pocket. Jeff worked especially long on the bass part with Chuck Rainey and it turned out to be perfect. … My good friend Ron Frangipane played the keyboards.

Of course, with studio time being a precious commodity—running just a minute over could result in being charged for another session—decisions needed to be quick, and allowances had to be made for slight mishaps. Ron continues:

Andy broke his guitar pick and had to use a matchbook instead. That’s the sound of the guitar that everyone loved.

Now that the backing track was laid down, it was time for Ron to begin work on the vocals:

I remember working a little longer than usual on the lead vocal. I had in my mind Donovan’s sound and it worked. I doubled tracked my voice and did a solo one with a harmony in the middle verses.

Singer-songwriter Toni Wine (who currently tours with Tony Orlando as a member of his band) provided female vocals for The Archies for the first two years of the group’s existence. On “Sugar, Sugar,” it’s Toni who sings the line “I’m gonna make your life so sweet.” Her voice was a perfect complement to Ron’s:

Toni Wine and I then did background voices. She had this wonderful street type of sound that blended with my voice so the backgrounds really took off. Jeff did a quick mix as he sat at the board and as usual it sound[ed] like a hit.

Which, of course, it was. “Sugar, Sugar” went on to be covered by many other artists, including Wilson Pickett, Tina Turner, Bob Marley, Jonathan King (under the name Sakkarin), Gladys Knight & The Pips, Micky Dolenz** (in 2012)—and even the song’s co-composer, Canadian singer Andy Kim, who recorded it in the early 1980s under the name Baron Longfellow. The original track by The Archies has not been absent from the airwaves since its 1969 release; it’s an enduring classic that has been featured in several TV shows and films, including The Simpsons, Cake Boss, From the Earth to the Moon, Now and Then, and Bee Movie. It has also been used in commercials and even greeting cards.

That “Sugar, Sugar” enjoyed such enormous success, reaching #1 during the psychedelic era (and a bare month after the festival at Woodstock) is a testament to its awesomeness. Or, putting it another way, good music is good music. The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar” had just the right ingredients: A catchy tune, great hook, solid production, wonderful musicianship by studio veterans (in addition to those mentioned by Ron above, musicians on the session included Gary Chester on drums and Dave Appell on guitar), and fantastic vocals. “Sugar, Sugar” has become part of the planet’s DNA; regardless of age, millions of people are familiar with the song and can even sing along. Billboard has listed the Archies’ recording as #73 on its All-Time Top 100 Songs.

Thanks to the collective efforts of music supervisor Don Kirshner (1934-2011), producer Jeff Barry, Ron Dante, Andy Kim, Toni Wine, and a talented group of A-list session musicians, mankind was blessed with an upbeat tune that will endure for generations. Or, putting it another way, the world is a much sweeter place because of the events on a single day in 1969 at RCA’s Studio C.

Notes:

*Ron Dante sang lead on every Archies recording except the 1971 single “Love is Living In You,” for which lead vocals were provided by songwriter Bob Levine; why this track was released as an Archies record remains a mystery to this day. [This note was edited on 11/8/14 to change the name of the singer; it was originally thought that composer Richie Adams sang lead on “Love is Living In You,” but a comment on a YouTube video by Mr. Levine cleared up the confusion!]

**Although the rumor has persisted for years that “Sugar, Sugar” was offered to The Monkees before The Archies,  its songwriters have both refuted this claim: Jeff Barry stated in an interview that he did not remember this being the case, while Andy Kim has said that the song was written specifically with The Archies in mind.

Videos:

The Archies: Official video for “Sugar, Sugar”

Ron Dante: Video from c. 1971, featuring The Archies’ lead singer performing the song in triplicate

Andy Kim: Performing “Sugar, Sugar” as Baron Longfellow in 1983

The Simpsons: Brief clip of Homer Simpson singing along with The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar”

A little Halloween fun: “Sugar, Sugar” Babies

Discuss: Has Archie Comics Gone Too Far?

Life With Archie #36

The following is from another one of my blogs (Laura Pinto, Writer and Author). This post can be read in its entirety by clicking on the link below the text. I would love to hear your opinion—what do YOU think? By deciding to kill off the (adult) character of Archie Andrews, has Archie Comics gone too far?

~~~~~~

Most people who haven’t been hiding under a rock for the past couple of days have heard the news about Archie Comics’ plan to kill off its namesake and flagship character, Archie Andrews, in a forthcoming issue of Life With Archie: The Married Life. For those not familiar with the series, Life With Archie: The Married Life, which debuted in 2010, is a comic magazine with two discrete story arcs, both of which take place in the future when the former teenagers from Riverdale are in their twenties. In one, Archie is married to Veronica Lodge; in the other, Betty Cooper is the lucky bride. This phenomenon, which is explained away as parallel universes, had its genesis in Archie #600-605, a six-part “fantasy” storyline which began in October of 2009. (This feature was followed by an epilogue in Archie #606 in which Archie is, once again, a high-school student in the present day.) Life With Archie: The Married Life was first published in August of 2010, with a frequency of ten (10) issues per year.

Read more here:

via Laura Pinto, Writer and Author: Has Archie Comics Gone Too Far?.

Don Kirshner took popular music to new heights

Don Kirshner, Ron Dante and Toni Wine, 1963

Goldmine article on recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Don Kirshner.

(Excerpt)
I’ve heard all the arguments related to the inclusion of the late Don Kirshner, who received the Rock Hall’s Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2012. He wasn’t a singer. He wasn’t a musician. He was the guy who supervised the music for “The Monkees” TV show and created The Archies, for crying out loud. To those who object to his inclusion, these achievements are not considered “real” rock and roll. But to many, Don Kirshner was the man with the golden ear. He was the Don Draper of the music world, heading Aldon Music with his partner, Al Nevins, in New York’s famed Brill Building. The Aldon publishing offices employed a stable of talented songwriting teams: Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield; Carole King and Jerry Goffin; Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil; Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller; Burt Bacharach and Hal David; Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman; and Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. At the height of Aldon’s productivity, 18 writers were on the staff, which included the likes of Neil Diamond and Jack Keller. Collectively, this one-of-a-kind talent factory was the soundtrack for much of the late 1950s through the late 1960s.

Continue reading:

Don Kirshner took popular music to new heights | Goldmine Magazine.