Lov’in Spoonful

In other words, musicians know that going back to the Spoonful, what we were doing was not copying.

~John Sebastian

Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer In The City

Nashville Cats – Lovin’ Spoonful

Lovin’ Spoonful – Do You Believe In Magic


Lovin’ Spoonful on SHINDIG! (1965)

The Lovin’ Spoonful- “Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind?” (with Lyrics)

Lovin’ Spoonful – Daydream

The Lovin’ Spoonful “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice” 1965

The Lovin Spoonful Darlin Be Home Soon

Rain on the Roof – Lovin’ Spoonful

You’re A Big Boy Now – The Lovin’ Spoonful

Full Measure – The Lovin’ Spoonful

She Is Still a Mystery – Lovin’ Spoonful

4 Eyes – Lovin’ Spoonful

Lovin’ Spoonful – Daydream

Younger Girl – Lovin’ Spoonful

Girl, Beautiful Girl — The Lovin’ Spoonful

Coconut Grove – Lovin’ Spoonful

John Sebastian “Lovin’ Spoonful”

I think that my past stands me in good stead in that it does have a certain strength for musicians.

~John Sebastian

Background Articles and Videos

John Sebastian

John Sebastian–Woodstock-

John Sebastian – Younger Generation

John Sebastian Teaches You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice

The Lovin’ Spoonful

“…The Lovin’ Spoonful is an American pop rock band of the 1960s, named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. When asked about his band, leader John Sebastian said it sounded like a combination of “Mississippi John Hurt and Chuck Berry.”

Formation and early years (1964-1965)

The band had its roots in the folk music scene based in the Greenwich Village section of lower Manhattan during the early 1960s. Sebastian, who grew up in contact with music and musicians, was the son of a much-recorded and highly technically accomplished classical harmonica player. He had reached maturity toward the end of the American folk music revival that spanned from the 1950s to the early ’60s. Sebastian was joined in the Spoonful by guitarist Zal Yanovsky from a bohemian folk group called The Mugwumps, playing local coffee houses and small clubs (two other members, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty, would later form half of the Mamas & the Papas.)[1] Drummer-vocalist Joe Butler and bassist Steve Boone rounded out the group.

The group first recorded four tracks for Elektra Records in early 1965, but elected to sign with Kama Sutra Records that same year. The Elektra tracks were released on the 1966 various artists compliation LP What’s Shakin’ after the band’s success on Kama Sutra.

Pop success (1965-1966)

Working with producer Erik Jacobsen, the band released their first single, the Sebastian-penned “Do You Believe in Magic, in August of 1965. Unlike many pop groups of the day (the early Beatles being a notable and influential exception), The Lovin’ Spoonful played all the instruments on their records, with the exceptions of the orchestral instruments heard on their soundtrack album You’re A Big Boy Now and some later singles. Additionally, aside from a few covers (mostly on their first album) they wrote all their own material.[2][3]

“Do You Believe In Magic” became a Top Ten hit in the US, and the band followed it up with a series of hit singles and albums throughout 1965 and 1966, all produced by Jacobsen. The Lovin’ Spoonful became known for such folk-flavored pop hits as “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice”, and “Daydream”, which went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.”[2] [4] Arguably the most successful pop/rock group to have jug band roots, nearly half the songs on their first album were modernized versions of jug band standards. Their popularity revived interest in the form, and many subsequent jug bands cite them as an inspiration. The rest of their albums featured mostly original songs, but their jug band roots showed up again and again, particularly in their big hit “Daydream” and the lesser-known “Money”, which featured a typewriter as percussion. They even had a crossover hit, as “Nashville Cats”, a number eight pop hit, reached the country charts. Other hits were “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind” (another #2 hit), and “Younger Girl”. Their only song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was the harder-edged “Summer in the City”, an indelible part of the soundtrack for the summer of 1966.

Early in their recording and airwave career, Lovin’ Spoonful members termed their approach “good-time music”. In the liner notes of “Do You Believe in Magic”, Zal Yanovsky said he “became a convert to Reddy Kilowatt because it’s loud, and people dance to it, and it’s loud”. Soon-to-be-members of the psychedelic rock band the Grateful Dead were part of the West Coast acoustic folk music scene when The Lovin’ Spoonful came to town while on tour. They credited The Lovin’ Spoonful concert as a fateful experience, after which they decided to leave the folk scene and “go electric.”[citation needed]

At the peak of its success the band was originally selected to perform on the television show that became “The Monkees”,[citation needed] and also gained an added bit of publicity when Butler replaced Jim Rado in the role of Claude for a sold-out four-month run with the Broadway production of the rock musical Hair. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s song “Pow!” was used as the opening theme of Woody Allen’s first feature film, What’s Up, Tiger Lily. John Sebastian composed the music for Francis Ford Coppola’s second film, You’re a Big Boy Now, and The Lovin’ Spoonful played the music for the soundtrack, which included yet another hit, “Darlin’ Be Home Soon”. Both films were released in 1966.

Personnel changes (1967)

In early 1967, the band broke with their producer Erik Jacobsen, turning to Joe Wissert to produce the single “Six O’Clock”, which would hit #18 US.

Yanovsky left the band after the soundtrack album You’re a Big Boy Now was released in May 1967, primarily due to a drug bust in San Francisco, in which he was arrested for possession of marijuana and pressured by police to name his supplier. As a Canadian citizen and fearing he would be barred from re-entering the U.S., he complied.[5] He would later open a restaurant in Canada, the immensely popular Chez Piggy in Kingston, Ontario. The restaurant is now owned and run by his daughter.[6]

Yanovsky’s replacement was Jerry Yester, formerly of the Modern Folk Quartet. Around this time, perhaps coincidentally, the band’s sound became more pop-oriented.

This new line up of The Lovin’ Spoonful would record two moderately successful Wissert-produced singles (“She Is Still A Mystery” and “Money”), as well as the 1967 album Everything Playing. Sebastian then left the group by early 1968 to go solo.[5]

The final years (1968-1969)

The group was now offically a trio, and drummer Butler (who had previously sung lead on a few album tracks) became the group’s new lead vocalist. Up to this point Sebastian had written (or co-written) and sung every one of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s hits; the band now turned to outside writers for their singles, and used a variety of outside producers. The band’s last two Hot 100 entries (“Never Going Back” and “Me About You”) were sung by Butler, and written by professional songsmiths. In addition, “Never Going Back” only featured Yester and Butler’s playing — the other musical parts were played by session musicians, a first for the group.

With commercial success waning, The Lovin’ Spoonful lasted only until early 1969. They split up following the release of their album “Revelation: Revolution ’69”. …”


John Sebastian

“…John Sebastian (born John Benson Sebastian, Jr. on March 17, 1944, in Greenwich Village, New York City) is an American songwriter and harmonica player. He is best known as a founder of The Lovin’ Spoonful, a band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.[1] His tie-dyed denim jacket is prominently displayed there.

Sebastian’s father, John Benson Sr., was a noted classical harmonica player and his mother was a radio script writer. He is the godson of Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz of I Love Lucy). He grew up surrounded by music and musicians, including Burl Ives and Woody Guthrie and hearing such players as Leadbelly and Mississippi John Hurt in his own neighborhood.[2][3]

One of his first recording gigs was playing guitar and harmonica for Billy Faier’s 1964 album The Beast of Billy Faier[4]. He also recorded with Fred Neil on the Bleecker & MacDougal album in 1965. He came up through the Even Dozen Jug Band and The Mugwumps, which split to form the Lovin’ Spoonful and The Mamas & the Papas. Sebastian was joined by Zal Yanovsky, Steve Boone and Joe Butler in the Spoonful, which was named after a Mississippi John Hurt song. Sebastian also played autoharp on occasion.

The Lovin’ Spoonful became part of the American response to the British Invasion and was noted for such folk-flavored hits as “Jug Band Music,” “Do You Believe in Magic”, “Summer in the City”, “Daydream,” “Nashville Cats,” “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind,” “Six O’Clock,” “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice,” and “Younger Girl.”[1] The band, however, began to implode after a 1967 marijuana bust in San Francisco involving Yanovsky, a Canadian citizen. Facing deportation, he gave up the name of his dealer, which caused a fan backlash and internal strife. Neither John Sebastian nor Joe Butler was involved in the matter; they weren’t even in San Francisco at the time. Yanovsky subsequently left the band and was replaced by Jerry Yester. [5]

Sebastian left the Lovin’ Spoonful in 1968 although he and the original band reunited briefly to appear in the film One Trick Pony starring Paul Simon and Blair Brown.[1] In December of 1968, a musical he composed the music and lyrics for, Jimmy Shine, opened on Broadway with Dustin Hoffman in the title role.[6]

He embarked on a moderately successful solo career after leaving the Lovin’ Spoonful in 1968. Sebastian was popular among the rock festival circuits. He had a memorable, albeit unscheduled appearance at Woodstock, appearing after Country Joe McDonald’s set, playing songs such as “I Had A Dream,” “Rainbows All Over Your Blues,” “Darling Be Home Soon” and “Younger Generation,” which he dedicated to a newborn baby at the festival. Documentary remarks by festival organizers revealed that Sebastian was under the influence at the time, hence his spontaneity and casual, unplanned set. Sebastian also returned for Woodstock ’94, playing harmonica for Crosby, Stills and Nash. Sebastian released his eponymous LP John B. Sebastian in 1970, which featured him accompanied by various L.A. musicians.

Sebastian played harmonica with The Doors on the song Roadhouse Blues under the pseudonym G. Puglese to avoid problems with his contract, which was featured on Morrison Hotel album.[7] He also played on “Little Red Rooster” on the live album Alive, She Cried and on seven songs on Live In Detroit.[8][9] He is also credited with playing harmonica on Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s “Déjà Vu” from the album of the same name.

In 1976, Sebastian had a number one single with, “Welcome Back”, the theme song to the Welcome Back, Kotter television show[2], which found new life decades later when a sample from it became the hook for rapper Mase’s 2004 hit “Welcome Back”. Recently, he has played with John Sebastian and the J-Band, a jug band including Fritz Richmond from the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Yank Rachell, an original jug-band leader, and Geoff Muldaur.

Several modern musicians cite him as a large influence, including renowned blues harmonica player, Mike Tetrault. As a songwriter, Sebastian’s songs have been covered by Elvis Costello (“The Room Nobody Lives In”), Dolly Parton, Del McCoury, Helen Reddy, Brenda Lee, Johnny Cash, Bobby Darin, Slade, Joe Cocker and Jimmy Buffett (“Stories We Could Tell”). …”


Lovin’ Spoonful

“…”The good-time sounds of the Lovin’ Spoonful made the quartet a fixture during the golden age of Top Forty radio. Over a period of two years in the mid-Sixties, the New York-based group charted a string of ten Top Forty hits, seven of which placed inside the Top Ten at a time when the competition included Motown, the Beatles and countless British Invasion bands. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s tuneful, poppy singles have stood the test of time and at least one of them, “Do You Believe in Magic,” remains a defining rock and roll anthem.

The four original members–singer/guitarist John Sebastian, guitarist Zal Yanovsky, bassist Steve Boone and drummer Joe Butler–came together in Greenwich Village. The folk-music scene was in full swing, but the electrified sounds of the Beatles and the other pop bands of the day had also caught their attention. Retaining their folkie roots while exploring new directions, the Lovin’ Spoonful adapted folk-style fingerpicking to electric instruments. Their folk-rock hybrid was particularly evident in the unusual combination of autoharp and electric guitar on “Do You Believe in Magic.” What really set the Lovin’ Spoonful apart from the mid-Sixties pack of one-hit wonders was their daring eclecticism. No two singles were written in the same style. Between 1965 and 1968, they tackled jug-band music (“Good Time Music”), ragtime (“Daydream”), country (“Nashville Cats”), folk-pop (“You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice”), hard rock (“Summer in the City”) and orchestrated pop (“She Is Still a Mystery”). …”


Lovin Spoonful

“…The core of The Lovin’ Spoonful were John Sebastian, who was born on March 17th, 1944 in New York, and Zalman Yanovsky, who was born on 19th December 1944 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They first met as guests invited to Cass Elliot’s house to watch the Beatles’ U.S. TV debut on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. They played guitar together through the night and discussed the possibility of forming a rock group. At the time, Sebastian was a Greenwich Village folkie and sometime member of the Even Dozen Jug Band and Yanovsky was a guitarist with the Nova Scotia folk group, The Halifax Three. When they disbanded in June 1964, Yanovsky was briefly involved in the Mugwumps (with Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot and James Hendricks). This was a short-lived and unsuccessful venture, which soon disbanded, and, of course Doherty and Elliot went on to form one half of The Mamas and The Papas

With Yanovsky at loose ends again, the seeds for a rock group with John Sebastian were sewn in January 1965. Joe Butler (drums) and Steve Boone (bass) were recruited to fill out the ensemble. They decided on the name, “Lovin’ Spoonful”, which was taken from a phrase in Mississippi John Hurt’s song, “Coffee Blues”.

It wasn’t long until the band had won a residency at the Night Owl in Greenwich Village and their producer Erik Jacobsen got them a recording deal with the newly formed Kama Sutra Records. Playing their own brand of folk-rock/good-time music, they enjoyed immediate commercial success. Their first 45, “Do You Believe In Magic”, reached number 9 in the U.S. and their debut album of the same name peaked at number 32. The follow-up, “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice” peaked at number 10 and “Daydream”, their lazy, laid back celebration of love on a summer’s day, was even bigger, reaching number 2 in the U.S. and UK, becoming a million seller. Their second album reached number 10 in the U.S. and number 8 in the UK. They also had four cuts included on the Elektra compilation “What’s Shakin'”, including one called “Good Time Music”.

Their next 45, “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?” peaked at number 2, but this was soon surpassed by what was arguably their finest moment, “Summer ln The City”. Notable for its atmospheric streetnoise sound effects, the record topped the U.S. charts for three weeks and made number 8 in the UK. It became their second million seller.

The Lovin’ Spoonful went on to appear on the soundtrack of the cult movie “What’s Up Tiger Lily” (No. 126 in the US) and their third album, “Hums Of The Lovin’ Spoonful”, peaked at number 14. “Nashville Cats” would be their last U.S. Top Ten hit, peaking at number 8, while in the UK, it climbed to number 26. They followed this with the heavily orchestrated “Darlin’ Be Home Soon”, which reached number 15 in the U.S. and number 44 in the UK. It would prove to be their last UK Hit. In March 1967, a greatest hits LP called “The Best Of The Lovin’ Spoonful” climbed to number 3 on the U.S. album charts. Their follow-up, “You’re A Big Boy Now”, their second soundtrack album, was their first taste of failure, peaking at No. 160.


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