Saturday, 29 October 2016
Green Tambourine/Rice Is Nice/Jelly Jumble (Of Orange Marmalade)/Shoesine Boy
The band was formed in 1966 by student musicians from Oxford, Ohio, who had played the college bars with their previous groups that included The Wombats (Nave), Ivan and the Sabres (Browne) and Tony and the Bandits (Bartlett, Albaugh and Dudek). The band played a mixture of blues, hard rock and folk rock, with a few covers from Byrds and The Who. They gigged regularly in an Oxford bar called The Boar's Head, and Cincinnati underground rock venues, The Mug Club and later The Ludlow Garage, and released a single on the Carol Records label, "Quiet Please". The original band existed as a quartet, and then gained notoriety by reaching the finals in the Ohio Battle of the Bands at the Cleveland Public Auditorium in 1967, losing out to the James Gang.
The band then recruited Miami University student Browne as frontman, and also engaged Ohio music-industry impresario Mark Barger, who steered the Lemon Pipers to Buddah Records, then run by Neil Bogart. The Lemon Pipers, relying in part on advice from Barger, agreed to enter into a recording contract and music publishing deal with Buddah. The group began playing larger auditorium and concert hall venues around the US, including an appearance at Bill Graham's Fillmore West in San Francisco on the same bill with Traffic, Moby Grape and Spirit on March 21, 1968. Buddah's plans for the group focused on bubblegum pop rather than rock, and the Lemon Pipers joined a stable already containing Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Paul Leka was assigned to be their record producer.
The success of "Green Tambourine" caused the label to put pressure on the group to stay in the bubblegum genre, and in March 1968 the band released another Leka/Pinz song, "Rice Is Nice", which peaked at No. 46 on the US Billboard charts, No.42 on the US Cashbox charts and No. 41 in the UK in May. The band had little enthusiasm for either song, however, dubbing them "funny-money music" and recording them only because they knew they would be dropped by Buddah if they refused. "Ordinary Point of View", written by Eric Ehrmann and featuring a Bartlett country solo, was recorded, but rejected by Buddah. Disenchanted with Buddah and the music industry, Ehrmann stopped writing songs and went on to become one of the early contributors to Rolling Stone magazine. As is common with the music associated with the 1960s, a few copyright and royalties issues connected with the previous owner of Buddah Records inherited by current owners of the Kama Sutra music publishing catalog and Lemon Pipers songs remain unresolved.
The Lemon Pipers evolution from 1960s rock music into a gold-record bubblegum band created what Nave has described as "the duality of the Lemon Pipers": "We were a stand-up rock 'n' roll band, and then all of a sudden, we're in a studio, being told how to play and what to play."
The band recorded a second album for Buddah, Jungle Marmalade, which again showed both sides of the band – another Leka/Pinz bubblegum song, "Jelly Jungle", (released as a single and peaking at No. 51 on Billboard and No. 30 on Cashbox in the US), a version of the Carole King/Gerry Goffin penned song "I Was Not Born to Follow," and an 11 minute, 43 second epic, "Dead End Street"/"Half Light".
The band left the Buddah label in 1969 and later dissolved. Bartlett, Walmsley and Nave formed Starstruck, whose recording of a Lead Belly song, "Black Betty" was reworked by Super K Productions producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, and released in 1977 under the name of Ram Jam, featuring Bartlett. Browne moved to California to continue playing music, Walmsley played bass around Oxford. Bartlett became despondent and reclusive following the death of his wife Dee Dee. Nave became a jazz disc jockey and played organ occasionally with The Blues Merchants in southwestern Ohio venues.
Drummer Bill Albaugh died on January 20, 1999, at the age of 53.