1910 Fruitgum Company: 60’s Band of the Week #2

9 Jun

Cymbalism (ha ha ha ha)

Cymbalism (ha ha ha ha)

Band: 1910 Fruitgum Company

 Origin: Linden, New Jersey

 Genre: Bubblegum Pop

 Founded: 1965- (off and on with different members since 1965)

 Original Line-Up:

–          Rhythm Guitar/Vocals: Frank Jeckell

–          Organ/Vocals: Mark Gutkowski

–          Bass Guitar/Vocals: Steve Mortkowitz

–          Drums/Vocals: Floyd Marcus

–          Lead Guitar/Vocals: Pat Karwan

 Name: The band’s name apparently came from a candy wrapper that Frank Jeckell, Rhythm Guitarist and Vocalist, came across in his attic.


1910 Fruitgum Company

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 Bubblegum Pop Explanation and Disclaimer: In the late 1960’s to the early 1970’s a genre of music best known as Bubblegum Pop grew in popularity as its complete foil Psychedelic Rock also made its way to the ears of the youth. Last week we covered 13th Floor Elevators who provided a start to Psychedelic rock and a pleasing musical genre to older teens. The acid that went along with the music sure did not hurt its success. An odd and terrible analogy can be made to best describe Bubblegum Pop and Psychedelic Rock. Just as they say Marijuana is the “gateway drug” to harder drugs like acid, Bubblegum Pop, targeting pre-teen, bubble gum chewing, listeners was the initial catchy rock sound that led to harder, more complicated sounds like Psychedelic Rock.

            This bubble gum chewing reason is what sparked the title of the genre in the first place. Pioneer producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz who formed Super K Productions, the main assembly line for Bubblegum pop music, coined the term while chewing gum and mulling over the target audience for their brand of contrived and marketable music. They structured the analogy (not like mine above) that the music is like bubble gum music. Neil Bogart, at Buddah Records, soaked up this profitable idea and Bubblegum Pop was born.

            Now, just because the music is fake and manufactured does not mean that is not worth a listen. The music, at its best, is quite catchy and upbeat with sing-a-long choruses, danceable beats, riffs and hooks, and hidden sexual themes (had to put that in there. It is class Disney, Mickey Mouse, technique. See South Park). This is where 1910 Fruitgum Company comes in. One must understand even while bands may be not playing the greatest, most noteworthy, type of music, they can still at the top of what they do. The 1910 Fruitgum Company, along with other bands like The Ohio Express and The Lemon Pipers, were at the top of the Bubblegum heap.




 History: Now on to some rich, bubble-blowing history. The band was formed by Frank Jeckell in New Jersey and was originally known as Jeckell and The Hydes. Quite a convenient name. They were found by Buddah Records and under the instruction of the producers of Super K started playing this new Bubblegum Pop sound. Interestingly enough, they found immediate and noteworthy success.

Their first hit was “Simon Says,” written by Elliot Chiprut, and while it was originally hated by the entire band, Frank Jeckell persuaded the band to record it and while in recording the entire band worked together in tweaking the song and eventually coming to model the song after “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. You may know “Wooly Bully” from such movies as “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Full Metal Jacket.” That is an interesting list of movies. The song hit #4 and was a huge success.

After the success of “Simon Says,” the band went on tour opening for such acts like The Beach Boys. They hit amazing success again with “1-2-3 Red Light,” which is painfully catchy.

Eventually the group was replaced by Super K producers and different musicians appear for the bands final two albums. This, of course, just comes to show you that money is a driving force. Producers Kasenetz and Katz wanted more profit and abandoned the bubblegum sound for more blues psychedelia which was popular in 1969.


Best Song: Let us just skip the five album discography and focus simply on the singles that did best for the group. Their best song is “Simon Says,” which played perfectly to the Bubblegum Pop sound. The song’s hook is a string of “ba ba ba ba’s.” The riff is a simple chord progression played both on guitar and organ and it inevitably will put a smile on any face. It encompasses all that a Bubblegum Pop song needs to have. Simplicity mixed with innocent, pop-filled sounds.


Fun Facts:

 Did you know:

 –          The Ramones have cited 1910 Fruitgum Company as a major influence.

 –          “1-2-3 Red Light,” was often covered by a band named The Artistics at the Rhode Island School of Design. The Artistics later became known as the new-wave band The Talking Heads.

 –          They are still touring with some originals. Check them out if you are in the area. Their Site: http://www.1910fruitgumcompany.com/index.html



 Special Shout out to Jonathan Gatarz Unofficial 1910 Fruitgum Company Blog, and always helpful Wikipedia Information.

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