Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: They needed a few lyrics

This week, another in our series of recordings from 50 years ago, 1969.

Any idea who this band is?

Image may contain: 4 people

Members included Rod Prince and Todd Potter on guitars, Roy Cox on bass guitar, and David “Fuzzy” Fore on drums.  Their gimmick was dual lead guitars.

The group’s name was based on a 1932 novel by Alduous Huxley, “Brave New World.” Huxley imagined a utopia that found peace and stability by banning monogamy, privacy, money, and family. He wrote about a fictitious children’s game, Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy.  The above-pictured psychedelic rock band changed the name to “Bubble Puppy.”

Now Bubble Puppy needed a hit and some catchy lyrics.

Our featured oldie was inspired by an unlikely duo:

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

Granny (Irene Ryan) and Jethro (Max Baer) from the immensely popular TV series “The Beverly Hillbillies” that aired on CBS from 1962 to 1971. After striking oil on his Arkansas property Jed Clampett moves with his family to ritzy Beverly Hills, California.

While in the stuido Bubble Puppy came up with a composition that still required some work.

“We came home after playing the song, and we needed some words,” recalls Fore. “We were watching The Beverly Hillbillies. Granny was berating Jethro for something, and she goes, ‘Hot smoke and sassafras, Jethro, can’t you do anything right?’ That’s where it came from.”

“Hot Smoke” was released in December 1968 and was immediately embraced by stations Bubble Puppy’s home state of Texas. By the spring of 1969, Bubble Puppy was lip-synching their hit on American Bandstand. The single was being played all over the country, but not in two big cities. “To get airplay in L.A. and New York, you had to pay the guys that controlled those markets,” said Potter. “You had to cut ’em in.”

While practicing in an International Artists recording studio some businessmen stopped in to remind the band of its responsibility “to cut ’em in.”

“It was like a cartoon,” said Fore. “These guys came to our studio in a black limousine wearing black suits, white ties, and black bowlers, right? They came in and they demanded payola for the record or they’d stop it dead in its tracks. International Artists just laughed at them and told them to get out.”

“Hot Smoke and Sasafrass” peaked at #14, the group’s only hit.


In the mist of sassafras

Many things will come to pass
And the smoke shall rise again
To the place above where it beganTime will bring the fire and flame
As surely as it brought the rain
But in the gardens of the moon
Time is held within the silver spoonIf you’re happy where you are
Then you need not look too far
If you’ve found your place at last
Then you need not use the looking glass

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