The Electric Prunes

The Classic 'Prunes Line-up 1967

THE ELECTRIC PRUNES - where do you start?

Until 1997, a large part of the Electric Prunes's history has been shrouded in mystery. What has sparked the latest resurgence is a live album recorded over 30 years ago in Sweden and aptly titled 'Stockholm '67'.

In the 1980s, Brian Hogg tried to unravel the mystery. He wrote the sleeve note to 'Long Day's Flight' and an article in the September 1986 edition of the U.K. magazine 'Record Collector'. The problem was that the full Electric Prunes story was not known, especially details about the band's disintegration. It is only recently in mid 1997 that information only known to ex-members has become publicly known.

Enough about the current for now, let's start at the beginning.

THE EARLY DAYS (1965 - mid 1966)

Before evolving into The Electric Prunes, the band started life as The Sanctions and then Jim and The Lords.

The Sanctions in 1965

In March 1965, The Sanctions turned up at Russ Bottomley's house in Woodland Hills, California and recorded twelve classic surf / garage tracks on direct-to-disc acetate including Long Tall Sally, Money, Love Potion Number Nine and Louie, Louie. The line-up of The Sanctions was :

James Lowe (b. San Luis Obispo, California, USA) - vocals, autoharp, guitar
Mark Tulin (b. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. 26th February 2011) - bass, organ
Ken Williams (b. Long Beach, California, USA) - lead guitar
Michael Weakley aka 'Quint' (b. Kansas City, Missouri, USA) - drums

From left to right : Ken Williams, James Lowe, Michael Weakley & Mark Tulin as Jim & The Lords

James joined up with Mark and Ken first. The latter two were still at Taft High School in the San Fernando Valley. According to Mark Tulin, the first drummer that James, Ken and Mark played with, in an incarnation or two before becoming The Electric Prunes, was a guy called Steve Acuff. He quit / was fired because surfing on Saturday was more important to him than practicing with the band. Following Steve's departure, Mike Weakley was then added on drums.

By the time The Sanctions turned up at Russ Bottomley's house for the second time in November 1965, the band had evolved into Jim and The Lords. A new band member was added to make the band a quintet but very little is known about him :

Dick Hargrave - Organ

Dick Hargrave was brought into the band to make up the band from a quartet (James, Mark, Ken and Quint) into a quintet and the band thought an organ would help fill out the sound and Dick owned one. How he actually got involved with the band is now lost in time but it was probably through a friend of a friend.

Back from left to right : Ken Williams, Michael Weakley & Mark Tulin
Front from left to right : Dick Hargrave and James Lowe

Four tracks were recorded during this session - Little (Li'l) Olive, I'm Free, I'm Down and Too Many People - again direct-to-disc.

Sixteen tracks by The Sanctions and Jim and The Lords from 1965 remained unheard and unplayed for 35 years until Heartbeat Productions cleaned up the acetates and released them on vinyl and CD in June 2000 as 'Then Came The Electric Prunes'.

James and Ken as The Sanctions playing live at a private party in 1965

Dick saw no future in music and wanted to be a graphic artist. Also he lacked the fanatical desire the rest of the band had to rehearse and music seemed an intrusion in a busy social life.

The Electric Prunes, back to a quartet with the departure of Dick Hargrave, originated from Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley - part of northern Los Angeles. Many early biographies state incorrectly that the Prunes started out in Seattle. According to Preston Ritter, this misconception began when their single 'I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night' first broke in Seattle and then Boston. The Electric Prunes's first live concert to promote the record was in Seattle, where a D.J. started the rumour, which has stuck to this day, that the band were from the Seattle area.

Their lucky break came when a girl called Barbara Harris, who was selling some real estate, was walking passed the garage where the band were practicing and heard them playing. She went in and said she know someone in the record business and that she could introduce them to him.

That person was Dave Hassinger! Hassinger was the resident engineer at RCA studios and he had already made a name for himself as the engineer on many of The Rolling Stones sessions in the mid 60s. It was during the Stones' "Aftermath" recording that Hassinger decided he wanted to record a band in his own right.

Micky Dolenz & Davy Jones of the Monkees in the studio with Dave Hassinger & Snuff Garrett (6th October 1966)

Here is as good time as any to introduce the concept of the band's management. Throughout their brief history, band management was left to someone called Lenny Poncher. Poncher was not heavily into the music business and was more at home handling acts like Brook Benton, although he did handle Donovan when he toured in the U.S. According to Mark Tulin, he never seemed to understand what the band was about or in which direction the band should go, for example, he thought they should go on stage wearing all purple outfits.

IF YOU DON'T FIRST SUCCEED, TRY, TRY AGAIN! (mid 1966 - late 1966)

With this line-up in place and signed to his independent production company, Dave Hassinger dispatched them over to Leon Russell's house (then a well known session musician) to record some demos. Russell had installed a recording facilities in his house called Sky Hill Studios.

The Electric Prunes in the recording studio
From left to right : Mark Tulin, Ken Williams, James Lowe & Dave Hassinger

From the demos recorded at Russell's house, came the first Electric Prunes single - a cover version of the Gypsy Trips's song 'Ain't It Hard' written by the folk-rock group members of Roger and Terrye Tillison. This was backed with a Lowe penned song called 'Little Olive'.

Early Reprise Records publicity photo of The Electric Prunes
Featuring Ken Williams, Mark Tulin, James Lowe & Michael Weakley ('Quint')

Unfortunately, this low-key single made little headway and seemed to have been totally forgotten as the Prunes' debut single. Luckily, Warner / Reprise liked what they heard and was ready to give them a second chance.

This second chance saw the emergence of a new drummer - Preston Ritter - introduced to the band by someone called Larry Miller who Ken and Mark knew from school. Quint left the Electric Prunes because of Dave Hassinger and the contract he had with the band. He subsequently went to Mexico to manage a mining operation for his father. Also, during this transition period, James 'Weasel' Spagnola was added on rhythm guitar just after the band had signed with Dave Hassinger.

James 'Weasel' Spagnola (b. Cleveland, Ohio, USA) - rhythm guitar
Preston Ritter (b. Stockton, California, USA) - drums

Publicity photo of The Electric Prunes used for several record picture sleeves

This new line-up with Ritter on drums recorded about six songs in the American Recording Studio in North Hollywood. Among these was a cover version of The Hollies' "I've Got A Way Of My Own", "Shadows" and a Annette Tucker / Nancie Mantz composition "World of Darkness".

Trade ad for The Electric Prunes's single 'I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)' with the newly recruited 'Weasel' Spagnola & Preston Ritter

THE ROAD TO SUCCESS (late 1966 - late 1967)

It was this classic line-up of Lowe, Tulin, Williams, Spagnola and Ritter that released the next Prunes single - 'I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night' - which has epitomised '60s 'garage punk'. Written by Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz, the song was originally demoed by Jerry Vale.

The Electric Prunes pictured with actress Quinn O'Hara

The oscillating, reverse-play guitar sound of 'I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night' came out of the the Leon Russell house session when the band were messing around. The single was released in November 1966. At first it was caught up in the Christmas rush but made steady progress up the U.S. charts and finally peaked at number 11. It also reached number 49 in the U.K. charts.

According to Ken Williams : "I have a 1958 Les Paul guitar, it's the only guitar that I play. It's worth about $50,000. I finally had to break down and start replacing some of the electronics. I bought that when the group was first staring for about $300. It has a Bigsby wiggle stick on it. That's where the sound came from at the beginning of 'Too Much to Dream'. That guitar had a lot of influence in what the group was to be come."

The success of this single led the Electric Prunes into more promotional activities. The band toured constantly, opened record shops and recorded adverts.

The Electric Prunes opening The Reseda House of Music, California in 1967

The band recorded an advert for the Vox Wha-Wha pedal - the exact date of the recording is lost in the mists of time - possibly late 1966 or early 1967. What the advert demonstrated was the capabilities of Ken Williams as a fine guitarist. This advertisement is available on a very sought after promo single on the Thomas label but it is more readily available on the Pebbles Volume 2 compilation. Click here to hear the advert! In addition to recording an advert for Vox, the band appeared in magazines promoting the use of Vox equipment such as 'Vox Teen Beat'magazine and Vox publicity photos.

The Electric Prunes in the November 1967 issue of 'Teen Pin-Ups'

The opening line of "Here I go, higher and higher" forced upon the world the follow-up to 'I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night' - namely 'Get Me To The World On Time'. Unfortunately, the single didn't do as well commercially as 'I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night' in the U.S. but still reached a respectable number 27. 'Get Me To The World On Time' fared better in the U.K. than its predecessor by reaching number 42.

The success of these two singles led to numerous concert appearances around which the band fitted hurried recording sessions which culminated in the release of their debut LP in April 1967 - 'I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night'.

Poster advertising the release of the first LP from 'Cash Box' (4th March 1967)

It appeared that the choice of songs were largely out of the band's control as seven of the twelve tracks were written by the songwriting partnership of Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz.

This debut album included many gems such as the two hit singles with their respective 'B' sides - 'Luvin'' and 'Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less)', 'Bangles', 'Train For Tomorrow' (the only composition ever credited to all band members), 'Sold To The Highest Bidder' and 'Try Me On For Size'.

Some of the material on the album was a let down such as 'The Toonerville Trolley', 'The King Is In The Counting House', 'About A Quarter To Nine' and 'Onie'. Lowe and Tulin, who were the band's main songwriters, were frustrated by being restricted to only one song on the album - the superb 'Luvin''.

This all changed by the release of the next album in August 1967 - 'Underground'. It appeared Dave Hassinger had lost some interest in the band and gave them more artistic freedom and a greater say in the choice of songs. Tucker / Mantz were restricted to only three songs.

The Electric Prunes with Miss A&W in 'The Beat' magazine (25th March 1967)

'Underground' was the type of music that most of the band had wanted to achieve but near the end of its recording, two of the band members left.

First to go was Preston Ritter. Ritter left mainly due to musical differences. He was offered the choice between being credited on the album cover with photo / name or have royalties from the album sales. He choose the royalties. Unfortunately, he got no album credits or royalties!!!

Preston Ritter's replacement was Quint - returning to the band for the second time. The band continued to record with this revised line-up with the return of Quint and Ed Thrasher captured the band in the recording studio. Actually Quint only played on five tracks on the albums - 'Children of Rain', 'Antique Doll', 'I', 'Captain Glory' and 'Long Day's Flight'.

Publicity photo of a shortlived 'Underground' line-up including both Quint and Weasel

Secondly, Weasel Spagnola left the band due to medical reasons and was replaced by Mike Gannon. Spagnola was still credited on the album cover with photo and name. Gannon joined just in time to only record two songs - 'Long Day's Flight', 'The Great Banana Hoax' and the non-album track 'Everybody Knows You're Not In Love'.

Despite a change in personnel, the band continued to tour the US in the latter half of '67 playing prestigious clubs such as The Crystal Ballroom in Portland and The Pusi-Kat Club in San Antonio.


The Electric Prunes live at The Pusi-Kat Club in September 1967

SWEDISH DELIGHTS! (December 1967)

It was this line-up of Lowe, Tulin, Williams, Gannon and Quint that embarked upon the Prunes's first and only European tour towards the end of 1967.

The Electric Prunes in the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) before departing on the European Tour

Arriving in the UK, the band rented an apartment in Harley Street, London for 3-4 weeks. They played a 16 date British tour which included Cambridge, Nottingham, London's Roundhouse, Speakeasy and Middle Earth, Norwich, Cromer, Bath and Glasgow. December 10th, 1967 saw the band record a television show - 'Hoepla' - at Bellevue TV Studio, Amsterdam, Holland where they played 'I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)' and 'Long Day's Flight'. The segment was never aired and the film / tape has since been lost / erased. After playing a few dates in Holland, France and Sweden, the band hit Stockholm. The date was December 14th, 1967. The concert was due to be taped by the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation for broadcast on Swedish Radio. According to James Lowe, the concert was recorded on a bad night at the end of a long tour. On the earlier dates on the tour, the Prunes had played some of their crazier stuff but it got very little response from the audiences, so they reverted back to playing some blues.

The Electric Prunes in a photoshoot with new guitarist Mike Gannon and returning drummer Quint

The Prunes stormed through a 9 song set and showed no sign of end-of-tour weariness! After being announced and warming up, the band thundered into an amazing version of 'You Never Had It Better' with Quint's powerful drumming. After such a pulsating start, James spoke to the crowd about the 'love-ins' in California, apologising for a senseless Vietnam War and incorrectly introduced what he said was the band's first single - 'I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)'. What the band could create in the studio under Dave Hassinger's production could certainly be transferred onto the live stage. 'Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less)' included a long instrumental showing off Ken Williams's prowess on the fuzz-tone guitar. Goffin and King's 'I Happen To Love You' was snarled through by James Lowe - one can just imagine how they looked on stage! The band also showed that they could play the blues with impressive versions of 'Got My Mojo Working' and 'Smokestack Lighting'. Sandwiched in between these two songs was a song written by Quint - 'Long Day's Flight ('Til Tomorrow)'. This song had been released in Europe to tie in with the band's tour. Towards the end of the set, the band played 'Dr Do Good' and finished with a rousing version of their second hit single - 'Get Me To The World On Time'.

Above : The Electric Prunes appearing on Swedish TV in December 1967
(courtesy : Lars Larsson @ Premium Rockshot)

For many years, a short, poor quality tape of this concert has been circulating among Prune fans. Simon Edwards (long-time Prunes fan and owner of Heartbeat Productions) spent many years tracking down the master tapes and clearing the rights to the material. In May 1997, his efforts were rewarded with the release of 'Stockholm '67'. According to Simon Edwards, "4 years of mind boggling legal hassles with Warners was the price to pay! But worth every second in my book".

The Electric Prunes in London during their European Tour - December 1967
From left to right : Mark Tulin, Quint, Mike Gannon, James Lowe
Seated : Ken Williams

The album was released in both vinyl and CD formats. Only 1,000 vinyl copies have been produced with a lavish gatefold sleeve and booklet of Gered Mankowitz photographs. James Lowe had always like the pictures Gered Mankowitz had taken of the Rolling Stones on their 'Aftermath' and 'Between The Buttons' LPs. So when the band came to the UK, they invited Mankowitz to a few of their gigs and he then agreed to shoot some pictures of the band at his Masons Yard Studio in London and on Hyde Park where they recreated some of his sessions with the Stones.

The Electric Prunes in London as part of the set taken by Gered Mankowitz

Also included in the LP package are tour reminiscences by vocalist James Lowe and bassist Mark Tulin. The album is actually 20 minutes longer than what was originally broadcast on Swedish radio!

The Electric Prunes in London - picture taken by Gered Mankowitz with a wide lens


The band's return to the States in early 1968 saw the release of the 'Everybody Knows You're Not In Love / You Never Had It Better' single. According to critic Brian Hogg, this single was "a chunk of pure Prune pop" which suggested that they were about to enter a new phase of tough, high energy rock; but it was not to be. Also in early 1968, the band recorded 'Shadows' as the soundtrack to the film 'The Name of the Game is Kill' which starred Jack Lord and Susan Strasberg.

Publicity poster for the film 'The Name of the Game is Kill'
Bottom left : 'Hear the Electric Prunes sing Shadows'

The history of The Electric Prunes gets rather confusing at this point.

There appeared to be an abrupt shift in music policy with the release of the 'Mass in F Minor' (January 1968) album. This was a concept rock opera mixing gregorian music and psychedelic pop with vocals in Latin.

'Mass in F Minor' Billboard magazine poster

The LP was written, arranged and conducted by one David A. Axelrod - a formally trained neo-classical musician who was called in by Hassinger for this specific project.

Picture of a young David Axelrod

Axelrod seemed to take over the output of the Prunes at this stage which did suggest that the album was not a bona fide Prunes product despite their name and pictures appearing on the album.

It is only recently that the truth about the 'Mass in F Minor' LP has become known. Hassinger brought in Axelrod whose ideas were pitched to the band. An interview with David Axelrod which appeared in the January 1999 edition of the U.K. magazine "Dazed and Confused" claimed that the original idea for the 'Mass in F Minor' LP came not from himself but from the Prunes manager - Lenny Poncher! It was suggested to the band that this would be a good career move for commercial success. The band agreed to be involved and it is now known that the first three tracks on the album were cut by the original Prunes from the European tour.

'Mass in F Minor' recording session

All the music was charted out note by note by Axelrod and it was made clear to the band by Dave Hassinger that they were not moving fast enough in the studio and it was taking too long. The Prunes seemed to be out of their depth with a project that wasn't even under their control.

It transpires that Mark Tulin and Quint played on every track and Jim Lowe did all the lead vocals. Richie Podolor, the band's engineer, also helped out on guitar! Ken Williams added some solos. Another Hassinger property, the Canadian group - The Collectors, were brought in to finish off the album.

The opening track of the 'Mass in F Minor' LP - 'Kyrie Eleison' - is widely known and backed the acid trip scene in the movie 'Easy Rider' (1969). Electric Prunes songs were also included in several other films of the late sixties - one such film being 'The Name of the Game Is Kill' (1968). Promotion of the album led the band to even appearing on the Pat Boone Show where they did a lip sync performance of 'Kyrie Eleison'.

Early in 1968, Quint left the band for the second time and was replaced by a new drummer :

Joe Dooley (b. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA) - drums

Joe, Mike & James live in concert in '68

Joe came from a very popular band called 'The Nomads'. Mike Gannon had also been a member before joining The Electric Prunes. Joe played on some memorable concerts on the same bill as big name bands such as The Who, Steppenwolf and Cream.

The Electric Prunes (featuring Joe Dooley on drums) on the same
handbill as The Who at the Grande Ballroom, Detroit in 1968

Also during this period, David Hassinger along with The Collectors provided the soundtrack music to a Canadian based film called 'Don't Let the Angels Fall' (1968). Further information regarding this film can be obtained from the National Film Board of Canada's web site.

Stills from the film 'Don't Let the Angels Fall'
for which David Hassinger provided the soundtrack


The last recording line-up of the original Electric Prunes

The 'Mass in F Minor' LP seemed to mark the beginning of the end for the original Electric Prunes. The band seemed to be going in a totally different direction to what it originally been set out to do. Hassinger had total control of the band's name and its output. The band members were arguing amongst themselves, frustrated, working all the time and the money seemed to be going to others. A bad time was being had by all! To make matters worse, the band got a call while out on the road that on their return to Los Angeles, they would be performing the 'Mass in F Minor' album live after only one day's rehearsal. The band didn't know the material and the performance turned out to be a total disaster.

James Lowe left the band in the middle of a tour of Texas. The band continued for about two months after he left. Both Mike Gannon and Joe Dooley also left after James Lowe leaving just Mark Tulin and Ken Williams as the original band members. Mark knew a session drummer named John Raines and he joined the band along with pianist Jeromy (then Jerry) Stuart who was introduced to the band by one of Mark's friends. Jeromy in turn invited a talented musician he knew to join the band - Kenny Loggins who later found fame with Jim Messina as Loggins and Messina and for recording the soundtracks to the 80s films 'Footloose' and 'Top Gun'. This line-up undertook one tour.

The Electric Prunes's final tour line-up with Mark & Ken plus Kenny Loggins & Jeremy Stuart

According to Mark Tulin, this was "possibly the worst tour of all time". They played none of the old Prunes songs but all new songs written either by Loggins or Stuart. Unfortunately, none of this material was ever recorded by this line-up of The Electric Prunes. This tour marked the end of the band and all the recognisable Prunes quit at the same time in circa mid 1968.

Ken Williams with Kenny Loggins in the 1968 line-up of The Electric Prunes

An extract of an interview with Kenny Loggins (KL) by Connecting Voices (CV) is as follows :

CV: Did you have a conscious moment when you decided you wanted to be a performer?

KL: I'd say I made the decision as a sophomore in college. I had been getting money for performing, but I never really saw myself as a professional. When I joined the Electric Prunes, I started to see myself as a professional. Before I joined the Electric Prunes, I went out and played a couple gigs alone on my guitar, and I hated that. I really liked having a band. And then when I went out and did the Prunes and got paid to do it, I was hooked.

I always had high school bands and rock bands through my first year of college, but it was when I went on the road with the Prunes that I knew I was going to give it a real shot.


This section of the band's history has been pieced together with the help of the band's final lead vocalist and drummer Richard Whetstone. A radio interview with Richard Whetstone was held in February 1999 in a programme called 'The Origins of Hip-Hop'. This was broadcast on the WRVU radio station and it outlined the history of the band from 1968 to 1970. Click here to hear the interview!

Dave Hassinger owned the name of the Electric Prunes. Encouraged by the success of the 'Mass' LP, a similar follow-up was promptly arranged. David Axelrod again performed the same functions for the next album released in November 1968 - 'Release of an Oath - The Kol Nidre'.

This album was even more anonymous than its predecessor - no personnel, no photographs - only the same engraving of the group that had been tucked away on the first album. It has always been assumed that that some of the session musicians on the 'Mass' LP became the New Electric Prunes on the 'Release of an Oath - The Kol Nidre' LP. Of course that was not the case as the original Electric Prunes disbanded, the 'Mass in F Minor' session band The Collectors went on to become Chilliwack and a new line-up was eventually assembled for the 'Release of an Oath' LP.

Richard Whetstone was in a Colorado band called Climax with John Herron (organ), Mark Kincaid (guitar) and Bob Brandenburg (bass) when he received a call from a fellow Denver musician called Rich Fifield whose manager handled the Electric Prunes. Rich Fifield was the guitarist and vocalist with a Colorado surf band - The Astronauts. The band's label at that time was RCA and subsequently Dave Hassinger was RCA's house engineer.


Three albums that have been released by The Astronauts whose guitarist, Rich Fifield, was instrumental in the formation of The New Electric Prunes

When The Astronauts broke up in circa 1965, some of the band members moved to California. In early 1968 under the name of Hardwater, they secured a recording contract with Capital Records whose resident producer was none other than David Axelrod.

The Electric Prunes management, which included Lenny Poncher, were searching for a group to replace the original band - which had broken up during the recording of the 'Mass' LP - and continue the recording contract David Hassinger and his production company (Damo Productions, Inc.) had with Reprise Records.

After the call from Rich Fifield, Richard Whetstone, John Herron and Mark Kincaid moved to Los Angeles but bass player Bob Brandenburg didn't move with them. This meant that a new bass player was required. Randy Meisner, who had been in bands such as The Poor and Ricky Nelson's Stone Canyon Band, was offered the job but turned down the invitation to join The Electric Prunes. Randy Meisner later went on to be in 70s supergroup The Eagles.

Brett Wade was recommended by the Canadian band The Collectors who sessioned on 'Mass in F Minor' LP and so, Brett became the band's new bass player. As mentioned before, The Collectors were another of David Hassinger's bands.

The line-up therefore became :

John Herron (b. Elk City, Oklahoma, USA; d. July 11th, 2003) - Organ
Brett Wade (b. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) - Bass Guitar, Flute & Vocals
Mark Kincaid (b. Topeka, Kansas, USA; d. June 2000) - Guitar & Vocals
Richard Whetstone (b. Hutchinson, Kansas, USA) - Drums & Lead Vocals

The final incarnation of The Electric Prunes (1968 - 1970)
From left to right : Mark Kincaid, John Herron, Richard Whetstone and Brett Wade

It is this line-up that became the 'new' Electric Prunes. According to Richard Whetstone, this line-up was offered to either finish Dave Hassinger's recording commitments as a new band or to keep the name of The Electric Prunes. With the Electric Prunes name still marketable, they choose to keep the band's name but they received no credits for the LP and were treated more like session musicians. However, the next Electric Prunes project was another David Axelrod concept LP - 'Release of an Oath' LP and only saw only Richard Whetstone involved in the recording of the LP where he provided the vocals. Other session musicians were used on the 'Release of an Oath' LP and these included Howard Roberts (guitar), Earl Palmer (drums), Don Randi (keyboards), Carol Kaye (bass), Gary Coleman (percussion) and Lou Morell (guitar).

The final Electric Prunes featuring
Mark Kincaid, John Herron, Richard Whetstone & Brett Wade

Howard Roberts who recorded many LPs in his own right such as 'Color Him Funky', 'H.R. is a Dirty Guitar Player', 'Somethings Cookin'', 'Whatever's Fair', 'Jaunty Jolly', and 'Goodies' and was essentially the "fifth Monkee", was brought in and played guitar on 'Release of an Oath'.

Howard Roberts who played guitar sessions on the 'Release of an Oath' LP

Also, Carol Kaye (bass) and Earl Palmer (drums) were present on these sessions. According to Carol Kaye, she played on the tracks produced by David Axelrod on 'Release of an Oath' but she had no idea what was going on top of those tracks she recorded.

Carol Kaye (left) and Earl Palmer (right) who sessioned on 'Release of an Oath' along with Howard Roberts

After its release, David Axelrod went his own way and recorded a series of albums including 'Songs of Innocence' which sounded remarkably like his work with the Electric Prunes! While David Axelrod went back to working at Capitol, the Electric Prunes with the new line-up continued to tour and finished the end of 1968 playing on the same bill as Steppenwolf, Canned Heat, a new Buffalo Springfield and Spencer Davis Group at KYA's San Francisco Holiday Rock Festival at the Cow Palace.

The Electric Prunes following the concert at the Cow Palace on 26th December 1968

At this time, even the band's label - Reprise - were confused with the band's line-up and image. It appears they were still trying to cash in on the popularity of the early singles as the following cover of the 'Hey Mr President' single shows. The original members are shown on the cover of this 1969 single but they had all departed by mid 1968.

The cover of 'Hey Mr President' single

The confusion regarding the band's line-up was further enhanced by Reprise who in Europe were releasing Electric Prunes singles with the new line-up of Richard Whetstone, Ron Morgan, Brett Wade and Mark Kincaid.

The cover of 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers' single released in Germany (Reprise RA 0858)

Cut off from their religious fantasies, the group returned to basics in June 1969 with the release of the final Electric Prunes album - 'Just Good Old Rock and Roll'. Just before the release of this final LP, John Herron quit the band after a concert in L.A. and was subsequently replaced by :

Ron Morgan (b. Colby, Kansas, USA; d. 1989) - Guitar

The final line-up surrounded by flowers
on the cover of 'Just Good Old Rock And Roll'

Ron Morgan was at the time playing in the band Three Dog Night but he was anxious to play in a less structured band. Ron had also been in a Denver group by the name of Superband (with Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night). In between all of this, he was also a key sesssion musician with The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. Ron Morgan helped complete the recording of the 'Just Good Old Rock and Roll' LP and then went on tour with the band. John Herron was still credited with keyboards on the LP but did not appear on the album cover.

Official Reprise promo photo of the Electric Prunes from 1969

In early 1970, Richard Whetstone and Brett Wade left the Electric Prunes. They both went to Canada where they formed Stallion Thumbrock with Garry Bell, Joel Wade and Basil Watson. However, this didn't seem to be the end of the Electric Prunes as Mark Kincaid and Ron Morgan formed a new band which did turn out to be the final line-up of the Electric Prunes. The new band members were :

Michael Kearns - flute
Clay Groomer
Huey Plumleigh - keyboards
Galen Pugh

It was this new line-up who played at the Red Palace in Dodge City in July 1970. The following article is the last available record of the Electric Prunes :

ALL OVER BUT....... (1970 - 1998)

Although the end had finally arrived in 1970, history couldn't allow a quality band like the Prunes to slip into obscurity!

Like many of the bands from the late 60s, the music of the Prunes was forgotten but only briefly - thankfully! Their resurgance began with the inclusion of 'I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)' on Lenny Kaye's 'Nuggets' compilations series of the early 70s.

In Europe, the 1970s and 1980s saw many re-releases of the Electric Prunes LPs.

There was a release of 'Mass in F Minor' in 1974 in the U.K. on the Midi label as part of the 'Original Rock Classics' budget series. This was the first time this LP had been released in the U.K. in stereo as the original release in 1968 had only been in mono.

'Mass in F Minor' released on the Midi label as part of the Rock Classics budget series in 1974

Additionally, there was a German release of the 'I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night' LP in 1982.

1986 was an important year in terms of Electric Prunes material being released. First, both 'Underground' and 'Release of an Oath' were re-released by Reprise as Greek imports. But more importantly, a small label in the U.K. called Edsel released what was essentially a greatest hits LP - 'Long Days Flight'. This LP not only included the finest tracks from the first two LPs ('I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)' and 'Undergound') but it included the first ever Prunes single - 'Ain't It Hard / Little Olive' and the non-album track 'You Never Had It Better'. 'Long Days Flight' became the first Electric Prunes LP to be issued on the CD format in 1989.

'Long Day's Flight' LP released on the Edsel label in the UK in 1986

Again, Germany seems to carry on their love affair with the Electric Prunes. 'Mass in F Minor' was released on CD in 1990 by Line Records on its Linea label. This has been followed by all the other Electric Prunes LPs being available on the CD format in the 1997 as double re-issues on the Head label - 'I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)' with 'Undergound' and 'Release of an Oath' with 'Just Good Old Rock and Roll'.


The Electric Prunes 2-on-1 CDs released by the European Head label in 1997

Since Reprise Records don't seem interested in releasing any Electric Prunes material, it has been left to independent record labels to champion the cause for The Electric Prunes. The CDs released on the Head label are bootlegs, despite the audio quality being very good. This means that none of the band memebers receive any royalties for their contribution to musical history.

Similarly, the Gone Beat label (from Isreal!) released 'The Singles' CD in 1995 featuring every single A and B side from 1966 to 1969 by both the original and new Electric Prunes. This CD (along with the 'Long Day's Flight' LP / CD) was the nearest thing to an Electric Prunes Greatest Hits LP, that is, until the 'Lost Dreams' CD was released.

'The Singles' CD released on the Gone Beat label

As previously discussed, the current resurgance in the Electric Prunes has been fuelled by the release of the 'Stockholm '67' LP by a little label in the U.K. called Heartbeat Productions owned by long-time Electric Prunes fan Simon Edwards. This release was sanctioned by Reprise after years of legal debates.

'Stockholm 67' CD released on the Heartbeat Productions label


This nearly brings the history of The Electric Prunes up to date...but wait!

A new chapter in the Electric Prunes biography opened in 1999 with James, Mark and Ken back in the recording studio for the first time in over 30 years!

From left to right : Ken, James, Mark in the studio in 1999

James and Mark had been friends for a while and when Ken found this web site ( he made contact with them. This inspired the three original members to met up, arrange to record some new material and a produce a band documentary.

James, Mark and Ken had started recording some tracks during the summer of 1999 when they invited Quint, now known as Michael Fortune, to the studio for the sessions. These historic recording sessions mean that, for the first time in over 30 years, the original Electric Prunes line-up of James Lowe, Mark Tulin, Ken Williams and Michael Fortune (Quint) have reformed to take on the world for the second time!


'Then Came The Electric Prunes' LP Cover

June 2000 saw the release of another Electric Prunes album on the Heartbeat Label from Bristol, England. Original straight to disc recordings of the Electric Prunes, when they were just forming as The Sanctions and Jim and The Lords in 1965, were found hidden away and unplayed for over 35 years. Simon Edwards, owner of Heartbeat Productions, was left with the task to trying to salvage the recordings on the acetates. The successful clean-up operation produced a commercially released album on vinyl record and CD - 'Then Came The Electric Prunes'.

'Lost Dreams' LP Cover

In February 2001, Birdman Records, owned by a Reprise employee David Katz-Nelson, released the long awaited compilation LP 'Lost Dreams' - containing alternate takes, studio conversations and rare tracks.

Following on from the success of the 'Lost Dreams' compliation LP, the original members of the Electric Prunes announced in May 2001 that they were going to play a live set at the Voxfest III festival held annually in Riverside, California on June 16th, 2001. Interest in this concert was at fever-pitch since it was the first gig to be played by the original members since the band split up way back in 1968.

The Electric Prunes Live at Voxfest III held in June 2001
(Picture courtesy : Pamela Lowe)

The line-up for the Vintage Gear Expo & Music Festival at Riverside was :

James Lowe - vocals, guitar, harmonica
Mark Tulin - bass guitar
Ken Williams - lead guitar
Joe Dooley - drums
Mark Moulin - rhythm guitar
Cameron Lowe - keyboards

New material was blended with old in the half hour set. They played five Electric Prunes songs from the 60s - 'I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)', 'You Never Had It Better', 'I Happen To Love You', 'Long Days Flight' and an extended version of 'Get Me to The World on Time' that ended in a monster crescendo. They also played two new songs - 'Lost Dream' and 'The Dream I Had Last Night' (a Randy Neuman song engineered by James Lowe in the 70s) - that were excellent as well and flowed very well with the old stuff. There was a lot of reverb on James Lowe's vocals, giving the performance kind of a sinister feel. Ken Williams still cranked out those vintage fuzz screeches after all these years and Lowe's voice was in top form.

Click here to see more pictures from the Voxfest concert!

From the reviews of Voxfest III, it looked as if the band had never been away and the demand for future concerts is gathering momentum! So much so that the band announced in August 2001 that they were to headline the Cavestomp 2001! festival held in New York City on 3rd November 2001.

The Electric Prunes on stage at Cavestomp 2001

Recording sessions over the last few years cuminated in the release of a new LP in October 2001 entitled 'Artifact'. This is the third LP the original band never made. The recording included many of the original band members, namely, James Lowe, Mark Tulin, Ken Williams, Michael Fortune (Quint) and Joe Dooley. In addition to the original band members, Peter Lewis (of Moby Grape fame) played guitar, Cameron Lowe played keyboards and Mark Moulin featured on guitar. They even released a limited edition single backing Peter Lewis on 'Hollywood Halloween'.

Released on October 31st, 2001, The Electric Prunes present their third official LP - 'ARTIFACT'

Thirty five years since their only European tour (December 1967), the Electric Prunes hit the shores of the UK and Greece on their 'Rewired' Tour 2002. First up was a fantastic set played at the Canterbury Fayre on 24th August 2002. The Prunes played the Saturday afternoon slot and all the classsic songs were there along with songs from their new 'Artifact' LP. The responsive crowd begged for more but had to wait a further two months until the band returned for a full tour of the UK taking in venues afar field as Bristol, Edinburgh and Brighton.

The UK tour culminated in a gig at the London Royal Festival Hall supported by a 3-D show by industrialist hardcore band Pere Ubu. The Prunes's show was pure '67 - music, light show and even James's psyche garb was claimed to have been purchased in Carnaby Street after their first visit some thirty five years previously.

With the UK leg of the tour etched into rock history, the band went on to entertain the Prune fans of Greece. They played two gigs - Athens and Salonika - supported by local psyche band Purple Overdose.

The year was rounded off by an electric show at the Baypop 2002 festival.

The Electric Prunes in the LA Times in September 2002

In 2003, the band released a DVD of their UK tour showing the Brighton gig in full, tour highlights, detailed narration of the songs played and the background to the band's reforming and recording of 'Artifact'. How anyone over the years could have disputed that the band didn't play on their records is truly dispelled here - the proof that the band played on their music is all here with great musicians having fun playing rock'n'roll. There is more to come from these guys and you never know, the Prunes bandwagon could be coming to a place near you ... soon!

Further details of what the Electric Prunes are currently doing can be found on the band's website -

The legend of The Electric Prunes lives on into the 21st Century!!!


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