Spanky and Our Gang
Spanky and Our Gang Origin Bloomington, Illinois, United States Genres Folk rock, sunshine pop Years active 1966–1968
Labels Mercury Records
Spanky and Our Gang was an American 1960s folk-rock band led by Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane. The band derives its name from Hal Roach's popular Our Gang comedies of the 1930s (known to modern audiences as The Little Rascals). McFarlane was nicknamed "Spanky" because one of the band members, perhaps influenced by her last name, said that she resembled Our Gang star George "Spanky" McFarland. The group was known for its vocal harmonies.
- Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane (born June 19, 1942, Peoria, Illinois) - vocals
- Nigel Pickering (June 15, 1929, Pontiac, Michigan – May 5, 2011, St. Augustine, Florida) - rhythm guitar, vocals
- Paul "Oz" Bach (June 24, 1939, Paw Paw, West Virginia – September 21, 1998, Asheville, North Carolina) - bass guitar, vocals (1966–67)
- Malcolm Hale (May 17, 1941, Butte, Montana – October 30, 1968, Chicago, Illinois) - lead guitar, trombone, vocals.
- John "The Chief" Seiter (born August 17, 1944, St. Louis, Missouri) - drums, vocals (1967–69)
- Kenny Hodges (born August 3, 1936, Jacksonville, Florida) - bass, vocals (1968–69)
- Lefty Baker (January 7, 1939, Roanoke, Virginia - August 11, 1971, California) - lead guitar, banjo, vocals (1968–69)
History and work
The group's first album, simply titled Spanky and Our Gang, was released by Mercury Records on August 1, 1967, and included three popular songs that were released as singles. These were "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" (their biggest hit, which reached number #9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in Summer 1967) followed by "Making Every Minute Count" (reached #31) and "Lazy Day" (reached #14). Both "Sunday Will Never Be The Same" and "Lazy Day" sold over one million copies. "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" was written by Terry Cashman and Gene Pistilli. In an interview by Cashman with the Songfacts website, he revealed that the song was originally written as a ballad. However, Cashman said the group "changed it, and they added the vocal, 'Ba-da-da-da-da,' which was a great hook." 
Their second album, Like to Get to Know You, was released in April 1968. Two singles were released: "Sunday Mornin'" in the spring, which reached #30, and "Like to Get to Know You", which reached #17 in the Summer 1968. The single's B-side, "Three Ways From Tomorrow", also received considerable airplay. The album also included their rendition of the classic "Stardust" and a version of "Everybody's Talkin'", best known as a hit single for Harry Nilsson and the theme song for the movie Midnight Cowboy.
"Give a Damn" was released as a single in Summer 1968. In spite of not receiving airplay in several markets because of the curse word in its title - and because it was a comment on racial equality that became the theme song for the New York Urban Coalition - the song became a regional hit where released and overall made #43. It was also performed live on an episode of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, resulting in CBS' Standards and Practices division receiving numerous complaints about the song's title being used during "family viewing hours". One such complaint reportedly came from Richard Nixon (Tom Smothers, 'Geraldo' Interview, 1987). "Give a Damn" would become John Lindsay's campaign song during his successful run for Mayor of New York.
In October 1968, the group's lead guitarist Malcolm Hale died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty heating system (Hale's death has also been ascribed to bronchopneumonia). This was a devastating blow to the group. The 27-year old was a multi-instrumentalist, did much of the arranging and pretty well kept the band together. Hale's death, along with the group’s satisfaction over what they’d achieved musically, resulted in the decision to disband early in 1969. Mercury released a third album, Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhythm or Reason, in January 1969. It contained two popular songs, the previous summer's hit "Give a Damn" and "Yesterday's Rain".
After the band's break-up, McFarlane enjoyed some success as a solo artist. She also toured for years with the Mamas & the Papas, singing primarily the parts previously performed by the late Cass Elliot. She was most recently seen on stage in Ferndale Repertory Theatre's production of South Pacific, portraying Bloody Mary.
The group briefly reformed in 1975 and recorded an album Change for the Epic label.
Because of their continued popularity, Mercury has released album collections of the band's greatest hits in 1969 (Spanky's Greatest Hit(s)), 1994 (Give a Damn), and 2005 (Spanky and Our Gang). In addition, Hip-O-Select has issued a limited edition anthology of their complete Mercury recordings including never released recordings and extensive liner notes.
- Spanky and Our Gang (Mercury, 1967)
- Like to Get to Know You (Mercury, 1968)
- Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhythm or Reason (Mercury, 1969)
- Spanky's Greatest Hit(s) (Mercury, 1969) (many songs were given new stereo mixes)
- Spanky & Our Gang Live (Mercury, 1970)
- Change (Epic, 1975)
Year Song Peak chart positions Album US 1966 And Your Bird Can Sing - 1967 Sunday Will Never Be the Same 9 Spanky and Our Gang 1967 Making Every Minute Count 31 1967 Lazy Day 14 1968 Sunday Mornin' 30 Like to Get to Know You 1968 Like to Get to Know You 17 1968 Give a Damn 43 Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhythm or Reason 1968 Yesterday's Rain 94 1969 Anything You Choose 86 1969 And She's Mine 97
- ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 230. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- ^ "Sunday Will Never Be The Same". Songfacts.com. http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=14868. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- ^ Largo, Michael (2007). The Portable Obituary: How the Famous, Rich, and Powerful Really Died. HarperCollins. p. 93. ISBN 0-061-23166-5.
- ^ a b c Bogdanov, Vladimir; Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2002). All music guide to rock: the definitive guide to rock, pop, and soul 3rd edition. Backbeat Books. p. 1049. ISBN 0-87930-653-X.
- ^ HIPO
- ^ http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p5492/charts-awards/billboard-singles
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