The Electric Prunes
Biography - Part 3

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

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