The Electric Prunes
Biography - Part 7


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 :

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