The Tikis were a surf/British beat-style quartet from Santa Cruz, CA, who released a pair of above-average singles for Autumn Records in 1965. And had it not been for a chance decision by the band to change their name on an experimental recording in early 1967, they'd likely be better known today.
Rhythm guitarist Dick Scoppettone had played folk music with his high school friend Dick Yount as members of a group called the Couriers until early 1964, when the British Invasion hit America. Finding themselves under the spell of the Beatles, et. al, they joined up with drummer Ted Templeman and Ed James on lead guitar to form the Tikis in the spring of 1964. The group's sound was a mix of Merseybeat and more homegrown music, Beatles songs interspersed with surf, and car songs by the Beach Boys and others. They became popular in the Santa Cruz area and, seeing the success of their neighbors the Beau Brummels on Autumn Records, began pestering the label with demos. In May of 1965, the company got interested and signed the group. They debuted with a Beatles-like single called "If I've Been Dreaming," and followed it up with "Bye Bye Bye," neither of which charted. There were four more songs left behind in the Autumn vaults by the group before the label was sold to Warner Bros. in early 1966.
The Tikis were never able to get a record on the charts, or play heavily outside of their own city, but they lucked out when Warner Bros. purchased Autumn and their recording contract. This started a series of events that led to the end of the group under that name, however. Warner Bros. was a relatively new label with a minimal roster of the rock & roll acts, and was eager to exploit the groups that it inherited from Autumn. The group was placed in the hands of Lenny Waronker, a young staff producer, who discovered a new Simon & Garfunkel song entitled "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," which he decided to record with the Tikis.
This recording, more elaborate than anything the group had ever attempted (and involving 18 musicians backing Templeman's and Scoppettone's singing), was such a departure -- and a source of concern, that it would cost them their established audience in Santa Cruz -- that the group insisted on using another name for the single's artist credit. As a result, it was released credited to Harpers Bizarre. The record rose to number 13, and suddenly the Tikis -- whose four-man lineup had expanded to five with the addition of former Beau Brummels drummer John Peterson, which allowed Templeman to move over to the guitar -- were history. ~ Bruce Eder