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Group Members: Ron Dante (Of The Archies)
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Most '60s bubblegum groups were faceless studio concoctions, made up of hired professionals and given nominal group identities after the fact. The Archies made no pretense of being a real band in the first place -- their music, including the smash hit "Sugar, Sugar," was "performed" by the animated TV cartoon characters spun off from Archie comics. In reality, of course, they were a studio concoction made up of hired professionals (most notably lead singer Ron Dante), but in this case, they weren't technically faceless.
The Archies were created by promoter Don Kirshner, who was coming off of a major success as the creator of the Monkees. In late 1967, Kirshner was hired as music supervisor for CBS' new Saturday morning cartoon The Archie Show, which was to feature a new original song every week. He immediately brought on producer Jeff Barry, who with Ellie Greenwich had formed one of the pre-eminent songwriting teams of the girl-group era (Greenwich also sang on several Archies records). Kirshner's original choice for lead singer was Kenny Karen, but Barry brought in Ron Dante, an experienced session singer who'd fronted the Detergents' novelty parody "Leader of the Laundromat"; Dante had met Barry at a Neil Diamond session, and had previously cut promos for Kirshner. Dante won the job, and Barry hired Jeannie Thomas as the group's female vocalist. When the TV show debuted, it was a hit, and the first Archies single, "Bang Shang-a-Lang," nearly made the Top 20 in late 1968.
Shortly thereafter, Barry hired songwriter/backing vocalist Andy Kim, and replaced Thomas with Toni Wine. Barry and Kim co-wrote "Sugar, Sugar," which became a breakout smash in 1969; it topped the charts for four weeks, sold over three million copies in the U.S. alone, and wound up as Billboard's number one song of the year. Meanwhile, the TV show was expanded to a full hour, and Dante enjoyed a simultaneous Top Ten hit during "Sugar, Sugar"'s run, thanks to his lead vocal on the Cufflinks' "Tracy." The follow-up, "Jingle Jangle," reached the Top Ten, but from there the Archies' chart success tailed off quickly. Their last Top 40 hit came in the spring of 1970 with "Who's Your Baby?"; the same year, Donna Marie replaced Toni Wine. However, by the end of 1970, Barry left the Archies to pursue other projects, and stories detailing the group's breakup named their primary personnel for the first time. Their final Barry-produced single was released in early 1971, although "A Summer Prayer for Peace" became a hit in South Africa later that summer. Ron Dante embarked on a short-lived solo career before moving into record production, and found substantial success as Barry Manilow's producer throughout the '70s; he also returned to singing on commercial jingles. Andy Kim went on to score a substantial solo hit in 1974 with "Rock Me Gently."
Wikipedia:For the self-titled syndicated version of the 1968-1978 animated television franchise of which The Archies were a part, see The Archie Show. For the Indian company, see Archies Ltd.
The Archies are a fictional garage band founded by Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, and Jughead Jones, a group of adolescent characters of the Archie universe, in the context of the animated TV series, The Archie Show. The group is also known for their real world success, through a virtual band.
The fictional band's music was recorded by session musicians featuring Ron Dante on vocals and released as a series of singles and albums. Their most successful song, "Sugar, Sugar", became one of the biggest hits of the bubblegum pop genre that flourished from 1968 to 1972.Cooper, Kim; Smay, David, eds. (2001). Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth: The Dark History of Prepubescent Pop, From the Banana Splits to Britney Spears. Feral House. ISBN 0-922915-69-5. Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
The Archies play a variety of contemporary popular music, consistent with the era in which the comic is drawn. They seem to have a preference for rock and roll, however.
Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge later also joined the group. Every member sings vocals, with Jughead handling the bass voice on a few tracks. Though their singing voices were soft and appropriate for pop vocals, their speaking voices are much different. The roles the teens played in the fictional band were:Archie: lead vocals / lead guitarReggie: bass guitar / backing vocalsJughead: drumsBetty: tambourineVeronica: organHot Dog: mascot / conductor
The Archies are sometimes jokingly compared to The Doors, as they also had no bass player. However, there is some controversy as to whether Reggie played bass or not. In most drawings, his guitar looks identical to Archie's, making him the band's second (or co-lead) guitarist. However, a number of drawings (including the one above) clearly show Reggie's instrument to have four tuning keys, the most common bass design. Six-string bass guitars do exist, however, and the Archies' recordings regularly featured a bass player. In more than one comic strip, Reggie is described as playing bass (however, this is not necessarily canon, as storylines and hobbies/activities in the Archie world change from story to story). Finally, in the liner notes for 2008's The Archies Christmas Album, Reggie is listed as the bass guitarist.
One distribution mode for the Archies' music was cereal boxes: a cardboard record was embossed directly into the back of a box such that the record could be cut out and played on a turntable (although their music was also available on standard issue LPs and 45s). Though the group no longer appears in animation, they are still frequently used in stories published by Archie Comics.
Other cartoon groups
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, animated series often featured musical groups that were fictional or sometimes based on real life musicians. This dates at least as far back as 1965 with The Beatles, but the Archies helped popularize the concept. Most of these groups played bubblegum pop. Several were also teenage detectives, influenced by Scooby Doo. These groups included The Groovie Goolies, The Hardy Boys, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, The Banana Splits (actually live action with actors in animal costumes and dubbed speaking voices), The Cattanooga Cats, The Chan Clan, and The Neptunes. Animated versions of The Jackson 5ive, the Osmond Brothers, the Partridge Family, and The Brady Bunch also existed. Archie Comics' own creation Josie and the Pussycats was successful both as an animated series and as a comic book (and later a live action motion picture), but The Bingoes and The Madhouse Glads lacked its popularity and never appeared in animation. Two modern examples of the "cartoon rock group" could include the British band, Gorillaz—a musical project created in 1998 by British musician Damon Albarn and British cartoonist Jamie Hewlett, and Dethklok, a fictional death metal band created by Brendon Small.
A set of studio musicians were assembled by Don Kirshner in 1968 to perform various songs. The most famous is "Sugar, Sugar", written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, which went to #1 on the pop chart in 1969, sold over six million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. In Billboard's Hot 100, it was ranked as the number one song of that year, the only time a fictional band has ever claimed Billboard's annual Hot 100 top spot. Other Top 40 songs recorded by The Archies include "Who's Your Baby?" (U.S. #40), "Bang-Shang-A-Lang" (U.S. #22), and "Jingle Jangle" (U.S. #10). "Jingle Jangle" also sold over one million copies, garnering a second gold disc award.
Male vocals for the fictional Archies group were provided by The Cuff Links' lead singer Ron Dante and female duet vocals were provided by Toni Wine. Wine, who was only paid for the recording session and quit the group when the song became a huge hit, was succeeded in 1970 by Donna Marie, who in turn was replaced on the final recordings by Merle Miller. The only Archies song not to feature Ron Dante on lead was 1971's "Love Is Living In You", sung by Richie Adams. The last single, released 1972, was "Strangers in the Morning"; its B-side song was "Plum Crazy".
Jeff Barry, Andy Kim, Ellie Greenwich, Susan Morse, Joey Levine, Maeretha Stewart, Bobby Bloom and Lesley Miller contributed background vocals at various times, with Barry contributing his trademark bass voice (portrayed as being sung by Jughead in the cartoon) on cuts such as "Jingle Jangle", "Rock 'n' Roll Music", "A Summer Prayer For Peace" (which hit number one in South Africa and Scandinavia in 1971), and "You Little Angel, You". Musicians on Archies records included guitarists Hugh McCracken and Kerry Swehla, bassists Chuck Rainey and Joey Macho, keyboard player Ron Frangipane, and drummers Buddy Saltzman and Gary Chester.
The Archies' records were initially released on the Calendar Records label, but the name was shortly thereafter changed to Kirshner Records.
The sound engineer was Fred Weinberg, who was Jeff Barry's and Andy Kim's favorite, and who also recorded Barry's and Kim's other hits "Be My Baby", "Baby I Love You", and "Rock Me Gently". Fred Weinberg is an award-winning composer and producer in his own right. However, the music for The U.S. of Archie TV show which aired in 1974, was produced by Jackie Mills, a Hollywood producer, who also produced Bobby Sherman and the Brady Kids. The vocalist for these shows was Tom McKenzie, who also sang on some Groovie Goolie segments, and was a regular member of the popular singing group, the Doodletown Pipers.
Although the verses of Jingle Jangle seem to be sung by either Betty or Veronica (the only two female members of the fictional group), the song was actually sung by Dante, using a falsetto voice.Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 252–253. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. "Interview With Ron Dante". Allbutforgottenoldies.net. 2004-10-09. Retrieved 2010-03-31.