Archive for Don Kirshner

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: The Archies

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2011 by 30daysout

Digging around in my sister’s bedroom, specifically her record collection, I found some of her singles and one of her very first albums. They’re all by the Archies, which was a fictional rock group from the comic books. Well, it started with the Archie comics – the music is actually an offshoot of the animated “The Archie Show.”

Archie was actually created in the 1940s as a typical American teenager. Red-headed and freckled, Archie Andrews was inspired by the Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney. Archie was originally a pretty hep cat, with two swingin’ gal pals (Betty and Veronica) and a best friend (Jughead). The four lived in Riverdale and did typical teenager things throughout the 1940s and the 1950s.

Jump to 1968, and there’s a hit cartoon TV show featuring the Beatles and their music (dating back to ’65) and a live action TV series, The Monkees, also with cool pop music. Don Kirschner, who produced the music for the Monkees, was asked to create another pop group, this time to serve as the voices for the animated TV series based on the Archie universe. Archie and his pals were hipped up to 1960s standards and the plot of the animated “Archie Show” involved the four friends forming a rock group.

The TV show only lasted one season, from 1968-69, but it spawned a number of hit singles including the No. 1 smash “Sugar Sugar.” Most of the tunes were sung by Ron Dante and played by top L.A. studio pros including guitarist Hugh McCracken (played with Paul Simon, Paul McCartney and more) and drummer Gary Chester (Aretha Franklin, Isley Brothers). The songs initially came from Brill Building giant Jeff Barry (who co-wrote “Sugar Sugar” with Andy Kim) but later many of the tunes were written or co-written by Neil Goldberg.

Even though the original TV show was long gone into rerun land, the Archies were still a hit-making pop group as the 1970s dawned and there was another TV show, “Archie’s Funhouse.” Sunshine is the Archies’ hippy dippy album with the trademark hooky pop music that was a guilty pleasure then as it is now. This was the Archies’ fourth album and it supposedly marked a more “mature” approach for the virtual group. Some of the tunes from this album were featured on the TV show.

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