One of my personal sore-spots about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and there are many, including visiting the place in Cleveland and being very nonplussed by it) has to do with their snubbing of many fabulous rock acts of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. One of those acts: Paul Revere and the Raiders. When you rifle through the catalog of rollicking top-quality hits that Revere, Mark Lindsay and the Raiders put out for Columbia in the mid-‘60’s through the early ‘70’s, you have to wonder what one has to do to earn a slight from that place. Well, I’m thinking I know why. It has to do with the stigma of wearing Revolutionary War outfits when the band broke onto the scene in a big way in 1965. It was a clever way to distinguish the group from the British Invasion acts that were infiltrating the American music charts in droves, and it led to not only great music, but also a fun, irreverent stage show that the band put on. By the way, the name of the leader of the group, Paul Revere (who passed away last year), was not a pseudonym…it was his real name. The facts that they were dressed the way they were, they acted the way they did onstage, and that their fame was spread by regular appearances on an ABC daytime television program (Dick Clark’s “Where The Action Is”) are probably the three strikes that have kept the Raiders out of the RRHOF, which is a true shame.
However, the situation that has kept Paul Revere and the Raiders in the doghouse with the panel that selects inductees into that institution is minor compared to another act that put out three fabulous rock ‘n’ roll classics around the time that the Raiders where hitting the charts. This group also has a great before- and after-story to compliment the peculiar backstory that drew not only attention, but rolled eyes, when they were at their peak. The group we speak of is the Strangeloves.
Prior to their debut in 1964, the three that formed the Strangeloves–Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrer—had already made their mark on pop music by creating one of the greatest girl group records in the genre’s history: “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Angels. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFdzJ0j8lYo) A year after that hit, the trio released their first single under the name Strange Loves. With the release of their second single in mid-1965, a bio was written about the band which reads like this, according to the Strangeloves’ Wikipedia entry:
“According to the press releases, The Strangeloves were three brothers named Giles, Miles, and Niles Strange who were raised on an Australian sheep farm. The brothers’ fictional backstory involved getting rich with the invention of a new form of sheep crossbreeding (the long-haired “Gottehrer” sheep allegedly registered with the Feldman-Goldstein Company of Australia) which allowed them the time and financial freedom to form a band. Feldman, Goldstein and Gottehrer dressed up in shaggy wigs and exotic clothing for publicity photos as The Strangeloves.’
Strange story, indeed. However, that second Strangeloves single proved to be the chartbreaker for them. According according to the page “The Bang Records Story” by Mike Callahan and David Edwards, Bob Feldman tells the story of how it came to be:
“In 1964 we (FGG Productions) had basically cut ‘Bo Diddley” in Atlantic Recording Studios. We were looking to sell the master, and Atlantic loved it. They told us that they were starting a new label with Bert Berns (Bang Records). We had cut the track, they had loved the track, and we were going to do ‘Bo Diddley’. But Bert Berns told us ‘Why do “Bo Diddley’? Let’s write a new song’. That’s how ‘I Want Candy’ came about.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94Ol1j1l7g0)
The Strangeloves’ original version of “I Want Candy” is a powerful, beat-booming sing-along that was catchy enough to have it just miss the Billboard top ten by one position. As for the fabricated Australian backstory, Feldman explains:
“This was in ’64, just after the British Invasion hit. The West Coast was another world, but the East Coast writers and producers were having a tough time selling anything because all anyone wanted were English groups. We had a track lying around, and I convinced my partners that the only way we were going to get (noticed) was if we were British. Being that everyone was from England, we came upwith the ‘fact’ that we were from Australia, so we became the first Australian rock group to come to the United States”
Though the Strangeloves’ version of “I Want Candy” charted highly in 1965, the version that’s likely to be most recognized in 2015 (though it peaked on the Billboard charts at #62) would be the 1982 version recorded by the British group Bow Wow Wow. According, again, to Wikipedia, “The enduring popularity of Bow Wow Wow’s recording is partly due to the memorable video that got heavy play in the early days of MTV. This recording is highly associated with 80’s pop music.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMICD3aMZpw)
The success of “I Want Candy”, however, led Feldman, Goldstein and Gottehrer into a troubling situation. Again, to Wikipedia’s Strangeloves bio:
“The Strangeloves found themselves in the unfamiliar and uncomfortable position of performing as live artists. This short-lived experience was followed by a road group composed of four session musicians who had actually helped to record The Strangloves’ songs. In early 1966, the lineup was replaced by a trio of FGG studio musicians that more closely adhered to the founding concept: guitarist Jack Raczka (Giles Strange), drummer/vocalist Joe Piazza (Miles Strange), and keyboardist/vocalist Ken Jones (Niles Strange).’
The Strangeloves put out two other great, beat-heavy rockers that hit the top 40…in the fall of 1965 , “Cara-Lin” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-xfp6ByvnU), and in early 1966, “Night Time” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Gxex2WwzM4). But they could have reached even greater heights had timing, circumstance and fate not caused them to forfeit a number one smash to another act. Bob Feldman explains in his “Bang Records Story” interview:
“We were doing a show in Tulsa, Oklahoma with the Dave Clark Five. ‘Hang On Sloopy’ was supposed to be the follow-up to ‘I Want Candy’. The Dave Clark Five were leaving, getting ready to go back to England, and they needed a new single. They loved what we were doing with ‘Sloopy’. They taped it. We were supposed to fly home, and there were tornados all over…that part of the country, and I didn’t want to fly in that, so I said, ‘No, we’re driving.’ So an agent said, “Listen, if you’re driving home, why don’t you stop in Dayton, Ohio and do a show on the way home and pick up a couple of thousand bucks?’ We said fine. We stopped in Dayton, and Rick and the Raiders were a substitute backup band…a last minute replacement as a backup for the Strangeloves. We were standing in the wings watching them, and I heard a sixteen-year-old that played guitar like I’d never heard anybody played a guitar. And they backed us up. We were worried about the Dave Clark Five, because they had told us that they were going to cut ‘Hang On Sloopy’. Being that ‘I Want Candy’ was just out and on the way up, there was no way we were going to get it out (before the DC5 did without killing the momentum on “I Want Candy”). We heard the group (Rick and the Raiders)…thought they’d be great, had them call their folks, and we all drove to New York. We named them on the way, from Dayton to New York. First, it was the Real McCoys, then just the McCoys. We…put their voices on the track, then put Rick’s guitar on it…if you listen to the track, it’s the same.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLaGcHGTHgE)
The Rick of Rick and the Raiders/the McCoys was Rick Zehringer, who became rock legend Rick Derringer. “Hang On Sloopy” hit the top of the singles chart in October of 1965. Since then, and due to the McCoys’ Ohio roots, “Hang On Sloopy” was proclaimed the official rock song of the state of Ohio by the 116th Ohio General Assembly on November 20, 1985, . It also is the unofficial fight song of The Ohio State University Buckeyes, played at many Ohio State athletic events by the OSU bands (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO2Y2sGZ1dk)
The Strangeloves continued to put out records into the late 1960’s, but the three founders of the group, under their FGG Productions collaborative name, also recorded a Strangeloves-Angels collaboration in 1965 under the name The Beach-Nuts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApXkWKf5Lbw) ; and, in 1969, the trio recorded an ode to the often-maligned genre of bubblegum music under the highly difficult-to-remember name The Rock & Roll Dubble Bubble Trading Card Co. of Philadelphia 19141. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJWP3E_CjLI)
Following their Strangeloves days, Bob Feldman, Richard Gottehrer and Jerry Goldstein went on to successes separately. Gottehrer co-founded (with Seymour Stein) Sire Records, and produced records by a number of acts that performed at the seminal punk club of New York City, CBGB’s… among them, Blondie. This connection to punk rock shouldn’t be a surprise since Bob Feldman said in his “Bang Records Story” interview :
“Max’s Kansas City in New York (the city’s other major ’70’s punk club other than CBGB’s) had all our records in the jukebox saying we were the fathers of punk rock because we dressed in zebra skins, leather pants, carried spears, and did all sorts of weird things”
Gottehrer also worked on the first albums of ‘70’s rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon, and—in the ‘80’s—produced the brilliant eponymously-named debut album by the sparkling pop-rock singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw, as well as the first two albums of the Go-Go’s.
Jerry Goldstein’s post-Strangeloves journey wound down many musical roads. In 1967, he co-wrote the top-ten hit for one-hit wonder Every Mother’s Son, “Come On Down To My Boat”. In the later ‘60’s, Goldstein produced many of the works of Sly and the Family Stone. In 1969, Jerry Goldstein saw a group called Nightshift playing at a club in North Hollywood, California backing Los Angeles Rams Hall of Fame defensive lineman Deacon Jones’s act. Goldstein talked them into backing former Animals lead singer Eric Burdon, and the group eventually became War. Goldstein has been producing, co-writing and working with War ever since. Also, while at Uni Records, Goldstein helped sign Marcia Strassman (known to most in the ‘70’s as Julie Kotter, wife of Gabe Kaplan’s teacher character on “Welcome Back Kotter”), who recorded a song co-written by Goldstein whose title defined an era: “The Flower Children.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F12o9j73dc) Goldstein and his DJ friend Tim Hudson have been credited with coining the terms “Flower Power,” “Flower Children,” “Flower Music” and “The Flower Generation.” Wbat’s more, Goldstein once also managed the hardcore punk band the Circle Jerks…getting back to that punk mention of Bob Feldman’s.
As for Feldman, according to an Associated Press story from 1998 (http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1998/Nashville-Sound-Bob-Feldman/id-e395321d5cb175d57080402bac27c373), he decided to retain his Australian Strangelove “identity” to promote a Strangeloves retrospective CD package in the mid-90’s, then tried his hand at becoming a country songwriter. Feldman’s most famous productions since the Strangeloves, have been his offspring: Daughter Mindy Feldman was one of the Mouseketeers in the original “New Mickey Mouse Club” (the 1977 version, not the one that later on produced Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake), and son Corey Feldman is a legendary child actor and musician who famously stated that he began the “Emancipation Proclamation in Hollywood” at age fifteen, when he was granted emancipation from his parents. Corey Feldman stated that he was worth $1 million by age 15, and by the time the judge court-ordered the bank records to come forward, only $40,000 remained. In 2013, Feldman released his first memoir called “Coreyography”, detailing his early life as a child actor all the way up to the death of his best friend Corey Haim. It also discusses his struggles with addiction and as a victim of Hollywood pedophilia.
Fifty years has passed since three Brooklyn boys– Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrer—passed themselves off as Australian shepherds to get their distinctive records heard, but the punch and contagious quality of those great rocking efforts put together by these three, known as the Strangeloves, flavor the history of American rock ‘n’ roll with both quality and quirkiness to live through the ages.