The Strawberry Alarm Clock Nov 29, 2009 11:15:43 GMT -5
Post by ekforum on Nov 29, 2009 11:15:43 GMT -5
The Strawberry Alarm Clock was my psychedelic band from California and reached the top of the charts with "Incense and Peppermints" at the height of the flower power era in 1967. We were originally called Thee Sixpence but decided to change our name to something more...contemporary(?). When I got home from the band meeting resulting in the name change, my mother simply said "You've GOT to be kidding." The band consisted of me on lead guitar (and a lot of bass on the 2nd, 3rd & 4th albums), Lee Freeman (rhythm guitar), George Bunnell (bass), Mark Weitz (organ), and Randy Seol (drums).
The story behind the song, "Incense and Peppermints," is a fascinating one...as well as a hard lesson learned! Mark Weitz wrote the bulk of the music and I wrote the bridge. We didn't have lyrics.
Our manager took our music track to a producer in Hollywood. In a month we received our lyrics in the form of sheet music and a demo tape. Neither Mark's name or my name appeared on the credits. Our manager's explanation? "This is what you have to do to break into the music business." What? Give away something you wrote??
No one in the band could sing the tune so the vocal was done by a friend of ours, Greg Munford, who also had a local band. Despite the record going to #1 in November, 1967, Munford never joined the band.
The Strawberry Alarm Clock appeared on some of the top television shows at the time (including The Jonathan Winters Show, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) and a couple of movies ("Psych-Out" and, later, "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls"). We recorded a follow-up tune called "Tomorrow" which charted as high as #14. The record company didn't like our next album so they brought in some outside writers for our third album. By this time, internal conflicts caused the departure of Bunnell & Seol. We tried, through various incarnations, to revive the music but just couldn't come up with another "Incense...".
Funny how things work out. While the "Clock" was sitting at home and out of work, we received word that our former manager had put together a bogus "Clock" and had booked a 3-month tour of the South. We were able to stop the bogus band in its tracks and then decided WE should do the tour ourselves. And THAT's how I met Ronnie Van Zant and the rest of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Skynyrd was our opening act for most of the tour. We became good friends and went through some interesting experiences together. One day Skynyrd was rehearsing at a club in downtown Jacksonville. Ronnie called me and said "Come on down...we want you to hear a tune we wrote." The tune was called "Need All My Friends" and I was blown away. I wanted to play guitar behind that guy! It took a couple of years but finally, in late '72, Ronnie called me with an invite into the band....on bass.
The memory of the "Clock" would be brought to the forefront again in 1997 when "Incense And Peppermints" was featured in the first Austin Powers movie.