1968 was a revolutionary year in popular music; albums released in the span of those 12 months included The Beatles’ White Album, Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, The Mothers of Invention’s We’re Only in It for the Money, The Doors’ Waiting for the Sun, Sly & the Family Stone’s Dance to the Music and The Band’s Music From Big Pink. And, oh yeah, 1910 Fruitgum Co.’s Simon Says.
In such a heady time for music — mirroring the social and political upheavals of the era — the simple, almost childlike pop music of this Linden-based band must have felt downright comforting. They had actually had their breakthrough hit with Simon Says title track in ’67, with more hits following, including “1, 2, 3, Red Light,” “Goody Goody Gumdrops” and “Indian Giver.” Their genre was called bubblegum pop, and they were one of the giants (along with groups like The Archies and The Ohio Express).
By the end of the ’60s, bubblegum was over, and so was the 1910 Fruitgum Co., more or less, though at least one great future rock group, Talking Heads, cited them as a big influence (and covered “1, 2, 3, Red Light” in concert). And a new version of the group led by guitarist Frank Jeckell is still doing shows.
Check out the hit that started it all, “Simon Says,” below.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.