Folk-rock outfit the New Hobbits was the studio project of Queens, NY-born singer/songwriter Jimmy Curtiss, who first surfaced in 1959 as a member of the doo wop combo the Enjays. He issued his solo debut, "Without You," on United Artists in 1961. The label attempted to position him as a teen idol in the mold of Bobby Vee or Paul Anka, although in stark contrast to his peers he wrote all of his own material, generating original and distinctive efforts like 1962's "Five Smooth Stones" (a pop retelling of the David and Goliath story) that not surprisingly failed to make a commercial impact. Stripped of his record contract, Curtiss sold songs to Bobby Darin and Ellie Greenwich, and even worked for a time in advertising. He returned to music full-time in 1965, assembling a doo wop backing group dubbed the Regents and signing to Laurie Records to issue "Not for You." "The Girl from the Land of 1,000 Dances" followed later that same year, but then Curtiss again disappeared from sight. He returned in 1967 with the bubblegum cult classic "Psychedelic Situation," a major hit in Germany that attracted little attention at home.
Curtiss then signed to Decca, collaborating with producers Jerry Vance and Terry Phillips on a studio group called the Hobbits. Despite borrowing their name from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels and titling their 1967 debut Down to Middle Earth, the Hobbits turned out relatively straightforward sunshine pop, and the album is much sought after by soft psych aficionados. Only Curtiss remained from the original lineup by the time of the 1968 follow-up, Men and Doors: The Hobbits Communicate. Like its predecessor, the record didn't sell, and Decca terminated the contract. Curtiss then formed his own label, Perception; credited to the New Hobbits, 1969's Back from Middle Earth was essentially a solo effort. Later that year, Curtiss issued an official solo LP, Life, before returning to advertising, later creating a television campaign for Bumble Bee brand tuna fish. According to the liner notes in the second volume of the Soft Sounds for Gentle People series, he eventually ended up in San Francisco, going solely by the initials J.C. -- his current activities and whereabouts are unknown. ~ Jason Ankeny