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The Lovin' Spoonful

Right on the tails of the Beau Brummels and the Byrds, the Lovin' Spoonful were among the first American groups to challenge the domination of the British Invasion bands in the mid-'60s. Between mid-1965 and the end of 1967, the group was astonishingly successful, issuing one classic hit single after another, including "Do You Believe in Magic?," "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice," "Daydream," "Summer in the City," "Rain on the Roof," "Nashville Cats," and "Six O'Clock."

Like most of the folk-rockers, the Lovin' Spoonful were more pop and rock than folk, which didn't detract from their music at all. Much more than the Byrds, and even more than the Mamas & the Papas, the Spoonful exhibited a brand of unabashedly melodic, cheery, and good-time music, though their best single, "Summer in the City," was uncharacteristically riff-driven and hard-driving. More influenced by blues and jug bands than other folk-rock acts, their albums were spotty and their covers at times downright weak. As glorious as their singles were, they lacked the depth and innovation of the Byrds, their chief competitors for the crown of best folk-rock band, and their legacy hasn't been canonized with nearly as much reverence as their West Coast counterparts.

Leader and principal songwriter John Sebastian was a young veteran of the Greenwich Village folk scene when he formed the band in 1965 with Zal Yanovsky, who'd already played primitive folk-rock of a sort with future members of the Mamas & the Papas in the Mugwumps. Sebastian already had some recording experience under his belt, playing harmonica (his father was a virtuoso classical harmonica player) on sessions by folkies like Tom Rush and Fred Neil. The Spoonful were rounded out by Steve Boone on bass and Joe Butler on drums. After some tentative interest from Phil Spector (who considered producing them), they ended up signing with Kama Sutra. Sebastian's autoharp (which would also decorate several subsequent tracks) helped propel "Do You Believe in Magic?" into the Top Ten in late 1965.

The Lovin' Spoonful were torn asunder by a drug bust in 1967. Boone and Yanovsky were arrested in California for marijuana possession, and evidently got out of trouble by turning in their source. This didn't sit well with the burgeoning counterculture, which called for a boycott of Spoonful product, although the effect on their sales may have been overestimated; most of the people who bought Spoonful records were average teenage Americans, not hippies. Yanovsky left the band in mid-1967, to be replaced by Jerry Yester, former producer of the Association.

The band had a few more mild hits, but couldn't survive the loss of John Sebastian, who effectively closed the chapter by leaving in 1968, although the group straggled on briefly under the helm of Butler. Sebastian went on to moderate success as a singer/songwriter in the 1970s. Live at the Hotel Seville, the first new Lovin' Spoonful album in three decades, was released in 1999. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

summer in the city live will be worth more than the ticket
john sebastiom luvin'spoonf u l live may8 Beverly ma.larcome theatre
I LOVE these guys as much now as when I first believed in magic!
She's STILL a mystery to me
I like the Summer in the City music in this single digit weather
Taken for what it was, i.e. pop music, the Lovin' Spoonful created some pretty damn good music. Darlin' Be Home Soon is beautiful. They had top producers and studio musicians.
I could have used some jug band music yesterday, I was sick as a dog, I got a can of Kal-can and some Gravy Train,maybe it's these dog days>>>????
Saw them at the Ohio State Fair, August 1970, I was wild,13, and crazy about John Sebastian
jetstar426
Rememer l..I. I do.
happy, fun - times music
Great music, thank god this song is safe on pandora at least( because of team fortresses 'meet the pyro')
Thank you pandora :)
seminolecrea t i o n s
This sure brings back the memories of the innocent time of my life.
kvons1
John Sebastian did more than write and sing music back in the late 60's---I worked with (the same) John Sebastian at Hood Sailmaker's & Boat Yard in Marblehead, Mass. during the summer of 1968-----too o o o damn long ago!!
Great iconic songs and intelligent lyrics....
eschndr23
My all time favorite song!!!
Such wonderful music, capturing the sixties and wrapping it in color and light and magic, then allowing us to unwrap this gift and enjoy the sixties again and again. She's Still a Mystery to Me is one of those gifts, bringing back to my mind a special love and a special girl, all those decades long past. Thank you, John Sebastian, and thank you Pandora. As long as I can hear the music, I feel that youth in my heart and I'm seventeen again.
O)f all the songs i remember from the sixties, this is my absolute all time favorite. No other song's lyrics better captures the feelings of the mid Sixties.
macs_3rd
THANK YOU PANDORA!!!! Last week I tried and tried to get this song. Look like someone heard me there and found it! Thanks, it's a great song that I loved growing up in Boston. Living among corn and cows here now is different, but at 100 degrees for 3 weeks so far, this song fits!!!
i believe in magic..
beautiful music,ledgen d a r y classics,i saw a special about them on pbs,awesome. . .
success killed 'em
johnnyohania n
I wonder if the lead singer John Sebastian scared any of the chicks back in the day, with his growling in the songs?
Great musical talent, fun and frolicking summer memories.
brings back fond memories of growing up in the 60's
'AMY's Theme' -- one of the best all-time 'listening' songs of the 20th Century.
I enjoyed their concerts In Boston Ma in the late 60's to middle 70's
I also enjoyed the Monkees at the Boston Market Square Arena. Peter Tork is still touring. My step-daughte r went to a concert in Illinois or upstate IN. She has a friend who goes to all his shows. Many in New England. I'm sot sure what his groups name is, something like Blue Suade Sneakers.
great , o k ?
nice comments about such a greay,great band
don1983
Everytime I hear one of their songs, It makes me smile and makes my heart glad.
don1983
Excellent band
herecomes2mo r r o w
Peter tork hung out with these dudes in the early days.
"Summer in the City" brings back memories of hot steamy days in New York City, where the Lovin Spoonful originated. This song really captured the feeling of the city, including the sounds of jackhammers and car horns.

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