The Electric Prunes are an American rock band who first achieved international attention as an experimental psychedelic group in the late 1960s. The band performed its 1966 hit song "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" on American Bandstand. The band is also recognized for the song "Kyrie Eleison," which was featured on the soundtrack of Easy Rider. After a period in which they had little control over their music, they disbanded for 30 years. In 1999 the band reformed. By 2001 the members had resumed recording and touring and remained active until 2011.
- 2 Band members
- 3 Discography
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The group started in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, though during the group's long disbandment, rumors circulated that they were from Seattle. Their first hit was discovered by Seattle disk jockey Pat O'Day at KJR (AM) and was very popular in that city before it broke into the national charts. The founding members, Ken Williams (guitar), James Lowe (lead vocal, autoharp), Michael Weakley and eventually Joe Dooley (drums) and Mark Tulin (bass) called themselves The Sanctions, and later, Jim and the Lords. Soon, Dick Hargrave joined on organ, but left shortly afterwards to pursue graphic arts. Their lineup changed many times, including one lineup with Kenny Loggins.
Lowe, Tulin, Williams and Weakley were introduced to David Hassinger, then resident engineer at RCA studios, who arranged for them to record some demos atLeon Russell's home recording facility (which he called Sky Hill Studios). Hassinger also suggested they needed a new name. In response, the band produced a long list of suggestions, with 'The Electric Prunes' last as a joke.
A single "Ain't It Hard/Little Olive" was released from these sessions, and flopped.
The Prunes' next single, "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" (1966), was chosen from material Hassinger culled from the established songwriting team ofAnnette Tucker and Nancie Mantz. It remains their highest charting success, reaching 11 in the USA and 49 in the UK. Personnel included Jim Lowe on vocals,James "Weasel" Spagnola and Ken Williams on guitar, Mark Tulin on bass and Preston Ritter on drums. This is regarded by many[who?] as the classic Prunes lineup.
Their third single, "Get Me to the World on Time", was also successful but less so, peaking at 27 in the USA and 42 in the UK Singles Chart. Both their first album,The Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night) (1967) and consisting mainly of Tucker/Mantz material, and the followup Underground (1967) which featured mainly original Prunes material, charted in the lower reaches of the Billboard charts.
By the time Underground was complete, there had been several more personnel changes. Original drummer Weakley returned to replace Ritter, and Spagnola was replaced on guitar by Mike Gannon, who appears on only two songs. Their fourth single, "Everybody Knows You're Not In Love", was recorded by this lineup, but did not appear on this album.
At the suggestion of manager Lenny Poncher, the Prunes's third album, Mass in F Minor (1968), was a psychedelicized setting of the Mass, written and produced by David Axelrod. Initial work on the arrangements was done by Mark Tulin, but it became clear during the recording that Axelrod's intentions outstripped the band's technical abilities, Jim Lowe commenting that "David Axelrod was so far above what we, as a garage band, were able to deliver." The band reportedly broke up during the recording, and Axelrod completed the album using Canadian band The Collectors and session musicians. A tour had been planned to follow the album release, but it was cancelled after one disastrous show at which it was obvious that the Prunes could not play the music, some of which they had seen for the first time only a few days before the concert. Nevertheless, the album became somewhat of an underground favorite. "Kyrie Eleison" from this record was used to back the dinner scene wherein Billy was trying to convince a grief-stricken Captain America to go to Mardi Gras in the movie Easy Rider.
This was followed by Release of An Oath (1968), another religious-themed work composed and arranged by Axelrod, this time combining Jewish and Christian liturgy. It was produced by David Hassinger using top session musicians for all instruments, backing the Prunes's vocal work. By this time, the original band had split up and Hassinger formed a new group, comprising Richard Whetstone, John Herron and Mark Kincaid, who had all been in a Colorado band called Climax, and Brett Wade from another of Hassinger's groups, The Collectors. This group was augmented by leading session musicians including Howard Roberts, Carol Kaye and Earl Palmer for the recording.
The following album Just Good Old Rock and Roll (1969) was recorded by the same group of musicians, who had been assigned the Prunes's name, although according to James Lowe the name was not legally owned by Hassinger. The album cover read 'the new improved Electric Prunes' to reflect the new lineup, although the group name remained the same. This band toured and also released a single on Reprise Records in 1969, but dissolved early in 1970.
Through the inclusion of their classic "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" on the seminal Nuggets compilation of 1960s psychedelic gems the Electric Prunes continued to reach new fans in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. That track in particular has been a regular of psychedelic bands through the decades including Australia's Prince Vlad & the Gargoyle Impalers in the early to mid-1980s. The track was recorded by psychedelic punks The Damned in the 1980s, under their alter ego of Naz Nomad and the Nightmares, and was also a feature of The Damned's live set in the mid-1980s. XTC, recording under the name Dukes of Stratosphear also paid homage to the song on their song "25 O'Clock" which emulates the style of the song. It was also recorded by Webb Wilder and the Beatnecks for their album Doo Dad, and featured in the "trip" sequence in Webb's movie Horror Hayride. A Patrick Cowley-produced Hi-NRG version, simply entitled "Too Much to Dream", was released in 1983 by Paul Parker as part of an album of the same name.
The late 1990s saw renewed interest in the Electric Prunes, with the release on Heartbeat Records of Stockholm, a concert recorded by the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation while the (original) Prunes were on tour there in 1967. Heartbeat also issued an early collection of recordings by The Sanctions and Jim and The Lords, recovered from unplayed 35-year-old acetates.
After a period of 30 years, the original quartet of Lowe, Tulin, Williams and Weakley met in the studio in 1999 to consider a revival. As a result Lowe, Tulin and Williams (the three who had played on all the early recordings) were joined by two new members, including James Lowe's son, to reform the band. They began touring internationally in 2001, and in 2002 released a new recording titled Artifact and a DVD album called Rewired.
Continuing the momentum in 2007, the trio of Lowe, Tulin, and Williams released a new CD entitled Feedback.
In 2007, the rock band The Verve ran the track "Holy Are You" before their concerts.
On February 26, 2011, founding member Tulin collapsed while helping out at the Avalon Underwater Clean-Up in Avalon, California. Baywatch Avalon and Avalon Fire Department medics responded immediately, but he could not be revived and was pronounced dead. The band went on hiatus following Tulin's death, but have since re-emerged with successful dates in Italy and Sicily in July 2013, with plans to play in Japan in February 2014.
- James Lowe – vocals, guitar, harmonica, autoharp (1965–1968) (1999–present)
- Ken Williams – guitar (1965–1968) (1999–present)
- Steve Kara – guitar, vocals (2003–present)
- Jay Dean – guitar, vocals (2004–present)
- Walter Garces – drums, vocals (2006–present)
- Dick Hargraves (1965–1965)
- Steve Acoff (1965–1965)
- Preston Ritter (1966–1966)
- James Spagnola (1966–1967)
- Mike Gannon (1967–1968)
- Jeromy Stuart (1968–1968)
- Kenny Loggins (1968–1968)
- John Herron (1968–1970)
- Brett Wade (1968–1970)
- Ron Morgan (1969–1970)
- Mark Kincaid (1968–1970)
- Dick Whetstone (1968–1970)
- Mike Weakley (1965–1966) (1967–1967) (2001–2001)
- Cameron Lowe (2001–2003)
- Mark Moulin (2001–2004)
- Joe Dooley (1967–1968) (2001–2006)
- Mark Tulin (1965–1968) (1999–2011)
- The Electric Prunes (1967)
- Underground (1967)
- Mass In F Minor (1968)
- Release of An Oath (1968)
- Just Good Old Rock and Roll (1969)
- Artifact (2002)
- California (2004)
- Feedback (2006)
- "Ain't It Hard" / "Little Olive" (Reprise 0473) 1966
- "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" / "Luvin" (Reprise 0532) 1966 US No. 11 – UK No. 49
- "Get Me to the World on Time" / "Are You Lovin' Me More" (Reprise 0564) 1966 US No. 27 – UK No. 42
- "Vox Wah-Wah Ad"(Thomas 08-000132-0) 1967
- "Dr Do-Good" / "Hideaway"(Reprise 0594) 1967
- "The Great Banana Hoax" / "Wind-up Toys" (Reprise 0607) 1967
- "Everybody Knows You're Not In Love" / "You Never Had it Better" (Reprise 0652) 1968
- "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" / "Get Me To The World On Time" (Reprise 0704 – Double A-side) 1968
- "Shadow" (Reprise PRO 287) 1968, one-sided single
- "Sanctus" / "Credo" (Reprise PRO 277) 1968
- "Help Us (Our Father, Our King)" / "The Adoration" (Reprise PRO 305) 1968
- "Hey! Mr. President" / "Flowing Smoothly" (Reprise 0756) 1969
- "Sell" / "Violent Rose" (Reprise 0833) 1969
- "Love Grows" / "Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers" (Reprise 0858) 1969
- "Hollywood Halloween" (Birdman Records BMR1313) 2001, Peter Lewis (Moby Grape) backed by The Electric Prunes)
- "Get Me To The World On Time (Live)" (Birdman Records BMR037) 2002 (recorded at Voxfest III in June 2001)
- "Left in Blue" (original by Azure Halo)
- "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" / "Luvin" (Reprise RS 20532) 1966 UK
- "Get Me To The World On Time" / "Are You Lovin Me More (But Enjoying It Less)" (Reprise RS 20564) 1967 UK
- "The Great Banana Hoax" / "Wind-Up Toys" (Reprise RS 20607) 1967 UK
- "Long Days Flight" / "The King In His Counting House" (Reprise RS 23212) 1967 UK
- "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" / "Luvin'" / "Little Olive" / "Ain't It Hard" (Reprise RVEP 60098) 1967 France
- "Everybody Knows You're Not In Love" / "You Never Had It Better" (Reprise RS 20652) 1968 UK
- "Long Day's Flight" / "Dr Do Good" / "The Great Banana Hoax" / "Captain Glory" (Reprise RVEP 60110) 1968 France
- "Everybody Knows You're Not In Love" / "You Never Had It Better" (Reprise RV 20149) 1968 France
- "Hey Mr President" / "Flowing Smoothly" (Reprise RV 20198) 1969 France
- "Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" / ("Lies" by the Knickerbockers) (Elektra K 12102) 1973 (from the Nuggets compilation) UK
- "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" / "Luvin" (Radar ADA 16 – picture sleeve reissue) 1979 UK
- Long Day's Flight (Edsel Records / Demon Records) 1986 UK
- The Singles (Gone Beat) 1995 Israel
- Lost Dreams (Birdman Records / Heartbeat Records) 2000 US
- The Sanctions / Jim and the Lords - Then Came the Electric Prunes (Heartbeat Productions) 2000 UK (pre-Electric Prunes recordings)
- Too Much To Dream - Original Group Recordings: Reprise 1966-1967 (Rhino Records / Reprise Records) 2007 UK & Europe
- The Original Albums Series, 5 CDs box set, released 2012
- Easy Rider 1969 (includes "Kyrie Eleison")
- Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968 (includes "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)") 1972 Elektra, reissued 1976 Sire
- Pebbles, Volume 2 1979 (includes "Vox Wah-Wah Radio Ad") BFD Records, reissued 1992 on CD by AIP Records
- Rarities 1981 (4 songs from a 1967 concert in Stockholm plus the Vox ad, split with Count Five) Great Live Concerts label
- Rewired (DVD) (Snapper Music) 2002 UK