THE LOVIN SPOONFUL SUMMER IN THE CITY

The dog days of 1966 were filled through riots, protests and a nation on edge. Notfall to mention a brutal heat wave. But in Greenwich Village, something new was happening.

Du schaust: The lovin spoonful summer in the city


Little walk members of Lovin’ Spoonful recognize that a couple of months ~ this photo was taken, their lied would be a large hit and that lock — und New york — would certainly be at die center of a buchstabe pop rock moment.Credit...David Gahr/Getty Images


During die summer of 1966, a warm wave boiled neu York stadt at ns most grausam temperatures recorded due to the fact that 1869, ns year weather charme began zu be repeatedly collected. Weil das 34 job it was 90 levels or higher.

The conflict in Vietnam was so heating up, with 382,010 males drafted into dienstleistungen that year, 151,019 more than the previous year. Opposition to the zu sein as well as to chronic discrimination versus blacks, women und gays was gathering steam in the city. Clashes broke out elsewhere, through race ausschreitungen that summer in Chicago und Lansing, Mich.

“America was convulsing in a way, a time of huge unrest, tremendous violence,” stated Jon Savage, author des “1966: die Year ns Decade Exploded.”


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The poet Allen Ginsberg in Washington Square Park, reading his work during die (very hot) summer of 1966.Credit...Dan Farrell/NY täglich News archive via getty Images

On Aug. 1, in Austin, Tex., a lone gunman introduced America to mass murder. Charles Whitman killed his mother und wife and then an ext than a dozen people, sniper-style, from ns University von Texas’s clock tower, wounding an ext than 30 others.


Meanwhile, “Summer in the City,” a propulsive, apolitical absent song von the neu York-based ns Lovin’ Spoonful, was climbing die charts zu No. 1, reassuring listeners the “despite the heat it’ll be every right.” Sung und co-written über John Sebastian, ns band’s frontman, the das lied was conceived über his younger brother, mark Sebastian, wie man he was just 14. Steve Boone, ns bass player, contributed die memorable crucial interlude. Ns three mutual writing credit und continue kommen sie reap royalties: The song has withstood as in anthem weil das every heat wave since and has to be covered über Quincy Jones, joe Cocker und Isaac Hayes, amongst others.

(It möchte most likely figure prominently punkt a concert, “Music und Revolution: Greenwich Village in the 1960s,” on Aug. 12 at Central Park’s SummerStage, whereby Sebastian is part of a lineup that has José Feliciano and Maria Muldaur.)

<John Schaefer, the host von “New Sounds” ~ above WNYC, share his 12 favourite songs about new York an the heat.>

In addition kommen sie Sebastian and Boone, die original maßband members (Mark was auch young) to be Zal Yanovsky on guitar und Joe butler on drums. Their producer, Erik Jacobsen, helped shape your 1965 debut album, “Do you Believe in Magic,” and their 1966 follow-up album, “Daydream.” your manager, bob Cavallo, masterminded the business end. An 1966, die group deshalb supplied the soundtrack kommen sie Woody Allen’s “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” they toured extensively und with their quick rise kommen sie fame, found themselves in need of more material. One day, sebastian heard something intriguing from his younger brother.


John Sebastian, frontman

Mark really was the beginning of the song. Hot town, summer in the city … but weist night the a various world. “Hey, hold on, those that?” i said.


A mix session zum “Summer in the City.” unterschrift Sebastian, center, was 15 at ns time. From behind left: Erik Jacobsen, the producer, joe Butler, ns drummer, and John Sebastian. “At this stage ich was having my mental blown, the sounded dafür great,” mark recalled. “Nobody said, ‘Mark, you’re together a genius, this ist the finest thing we’ve got,’ deshalb I didn’t understand anything around it walk on die album, didn’t know ns machinations of what Erik was saying to my brother.”Credit...Don Paulsen

Mark Sebastian, songwriter

I freshly found the songbook ich wrote it in, in pencil. Mine brother, who’d moved out von then, was back home visiting and listened zu what I’d written.

The song soon ended up being a contender zum the band’s following album, i m sorry they to be under pressure kommen sie produce quickly. “Cavallo had us on the road dafür much the we never had die luxury des dedicated periods von recording,” said steve Boone, ns bass player. Von March of 1966, just a few months after pack “Daydream,” they were back in the studio kommen sie record what would end up being “Hums von the Lovin’ Spoonful,” i beg your pardon would attribute “Summer bei the City.” From the beginning, the maßband was excited about die single’s potential, no matt that it began with a dreamy adolescent longing zu break out des his family’s tony residence, tucked between Macdougal Street and Waverly Place.

Mark Sebastian our family’s apartment was at 29 washington Square West, ns 15th floor, and my bedroom looked the end over die Hudson. Ich wanted to run away, go down von the docks, dreaming of whatever this romance point was, having actually a eis of my own. There was all this music out in Washington Square Park, girls the came down from die Bronx, yes, really sexy, chewing gum, und I was ausblüten too young zu talk kommen sie them without fainting.


The sebastian family home was at 29 washington Square West. “Eleanor Roosevelt live across die hall bei the 1940s wie man we zuerst moved in,” said john Sebastian. This was a room in her apartment.Credit...John Lindsay/Associated Press

John Sebastian

Eleanor Roosevelt lived across ns hall an the 1940s wie man we erste moved in. My mom, jane Bishir, was a Midwestern mädchen who’d kommen sie to new York zu make it as a writer and became ns closest des friends v Vivian Vance long before she was on “I liebe Lucy.” She was my godmother. My godfather was die best babysitter on God’s eco-friendly earth, Garth Williams, the illustrator for all these wonderful books. He would be doodling, und there was one evening whereby he showed me three or 4 spiders: “Which spider do freundin like?” He und E.B. White were going around die bend kommen sie avoid ns Disneyfication of “Charlotte’s Web,” und he wanted to try it out on a kid. My dad was a classic harmonica player und good friends v Burl Ives, that asked er if we could let this songwriter native Oklahoma stay punkt our house weil das a while. Deshalb I’m an bed, and bei the next room ich hear Woody Guthrie singing and playing, and bei my gesamt infancy i thought, “He’s notfall as good as Dad.” It’s notfall a memory I’m proud of.

Steve Boone, bass guitarist

John not only grew up in Greenwich Village, he was there when folk musicians and bands began writing their very own songs and actually playing their instruments on die recordings. In the ’50s and early ’60s, record service providers would hire songwriters und studio musicians und the artists would certainly come bei and sing. The rock scene started with this gestation period in the Village.


About five years before ns more rollicking Lovin’ Spoonful came onto die scene, Bob dylan performed folk music at ns Bitter end on Bleecker Street.Credit...Sigmund Goode/Michael Ochs Archive, via getty Images

John sebastian was steeped an a rivalrous fraternity von folk, roots, blues and jug-band artists hinweisen coffeehouses und basement hangouts along west Third, Macdougal and Bleecker Streets. That saw ns careers of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Jimmy james (later known as Jimi Hendrix) und the Blue Flames take turn off from cramped stages. Playing harmonica, guitar und autoharp, that began to accompany a variety of artists, influences that bore fruit when he turned zu songwriting.


From left: john Sebastian, Cass Elliot und a friend, Lorey Kaye, that would marry Mr. Sebastian for a buchstabe amount des time a couple of months later, photographed an Dec. 22, 1966.Credit...David Gahr/Getty Images

Sebastian’s friend Cass Elliot introduced ihm to Yanovsky, a Canadian who played in her individual group, the Mugwumps, together with Denny Doherty. ~ they split up, Elliot and Doherty co-founded die Mamas and the Papas while Sebastian and Yanovsky formed die Lovin’ Spoonful, taking their nennen from a Mississippi john Hurt song, “Coffee Blues.”

In February of 1965, your tryout at die Night Owl Cafe, formerly at 118 West der dritte tag Street, was a disaster. Joe Marra, ns club’s owner (who is ausblüten alive at 85), was known weil das presenting the mögen of Tim Hardin, Fred Neil, mannschaft Buckley, Stephen Stills, Richie Havens and James Taylor. He provided Cass Elliot a job as a hostess.


John Sebastian

We got fired.

Joe Butler, drummer

We to be living in the exact same room at die Albert Hotel, the four von us in the same goddamn bed, a to wash cart v all ours instruments. We’d role it under to die basement zu rehearse, water bugs to run around.


John sebastian said that he wrote “Do freundin Believe bei Magic” weist the hotel Albert, where band members lived weil das a while. “We had actually a an enig entrance,” said joe Butler, die drummer, “hiding an rooms, und never paid.”Credit...Adrienne Grunwald zum The neu York Times

John Sebastian

I had bei apartment, however maybe I’d ende up there overnight now und then. That where ich wrote “Do freundin Believe in Magic.”


“Do you Believe an Magic” was the group’s debut album in 1965.Credit...Adrienne Grunwald zum The neu York Times

Joe Butler

The paulus Butterfield Blues maßband rehearsed an the ballroom. A lot of musicians to be living bei that location on the sly. Deshalb were Denny und Cass, that were ausblüten with the Mugwumps. Basically, Denny was romancing the manager, deshalb he was our enjoy the meal ticket. We had actually a an enig entrance, hiding in rooms, und never paid. Ich was just out of the wait Force, my father was a cop, und I flourished up in Great Neck, deswegen I wasn’t together bohemian as they were. Ich was 23, die oldest in the group. If freundin were lucky, you got to sleep on die floor in Butchie’s room.


Bassist steve Boone an the studio, 1965.Credit...PoPsie Randolph/Michael Ochs Archives, via getty Images

Steve Boone

Butchie was die Lovin’ Spoonful’s stepmother at die hotel, funny, cheerful, encouraging. Ich wrote “Butchie’s Tune” zum her, how she was the greatest, but i wasn’t attracted to her.


John Sebastian

She was a pal of my producer that overheard me talk about die draft, how ich was ns right age to get taken. She said, “Oh, i’ll marry you.” It was a technical marriage. She ended hoch marrying schuss Denver.

Joshua White, pioneer of psychedelic irradiate shows

We were gaining deeper and deeper right into Vietnam. Everyone, including ns Lovin’ Spoonful, was subject to ns draft, und you to be going zu die, your life under the dangling sword. People were doing all kinds of things to better their possibilities — getting married, having actually children, coming to be teachers, looking over their shoulders.


“We go eight set a day weil das $25 a week und all die tuna fish sandwiches freundin could eat,” said john Sebastian des the band’s gigs hinweisen Cafe Bizarre.Credit...Bettmann Archive, via getty Images

John Sebastian

We immediately gott into coffee shop Bizarre, a traveler trap. We did eight to adjust a day zum $25 a week und all die tuna fish sandwiches freundin could eat. Joe Marra offered us another shot at the Night Owl, and we were ecstatic wie man we experienced a 16-year-old girl from Queens tanzen to ours music. Die next woche a ton des girls showed up.

Jon Savage, “1966” author

There was magic bolzen the four von them, und Zal Yanovsky was the brutal card. Sie always require a wild card, somebody who’s going zu rip it up. London was over, anyone knew that, und New york became die pop center des the world, strong with die Lovin’ Spoonful und the Rascals, ns Brill building not dead yet.

Joe Butler

I was fascinated von Zally. Harpo Marx with a guitar, a genius who could play anything.

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Zal Yanovsky was described by Joe Butler together “Harpo Marx through a guitar, a genius who can play anything.”Credit...Michael Ochs Archives, via getty Images

Zoe Yanovsky, Zal Yanovsky’s daughter

Zalman was a bit von a street urchin, somewhat homeless, and had roamed around israelisch playing guitar. There’s a mythical story about er coming rückseitig to Toronto und living in a laundromat prior to going to new York.

Gerry Gioia, guitarist und composer since the ’60s

When ich played bei the Village rückseitig then I’d gain $10, but that would certainly buy sie 10 pizzas. Music was everywhere, straße performers, smells von sausage heroes, coffee beans, civilization walking up and down the streets trying to look together freaky as possible. It was like Paris in the ’20s, the Harlem Renaissance, jene that come and go und you nothing realize it till it’s gone.


Gerde’s Folk city nightclub in the Village, 1961.Credit...Sam Falk/New York mal Company, via getty Images

Gene Sculatti, author des “Tryin’ zu Tell a Stranger ‘Bout Rock and Roll

The Lovin’ Spoonful und the Byrds to be the erste of die groups the really consisted of hipsters, ex-folkies and dope smokers. Wie you zuerst saw them, they to be like die Rolling Stones, dressed an street clothes, notfall uniforms.

In late 1965, die Lovin’ Spoonful toured ns South with ns Supremes, chronicled in Steve Boone’s memoir, “Hotter 보다 a complement Head: Life on ns Run with ns Lovin’ Spoonful” (2014). They to be taunted for having lang hair und witnessed naked racism.


Lovin’ Spoonful perform on the NBC variety nur “Hullabaloo” in September von 1965, with the Supremes, on the left, und Sonny und Cher, on the right. Nur host Sammy Davis Jr. Ist front and center.Credit...Hullabaloo archive -- michael Ochs Archives, via getty Images

“Segregation was supposed kommen sie be over,” servant said, “but Zally was out there, animated and loud, und guys started coming zum us, saying, ‘Should we shave their heads?’” People weist a diner began using racist jeers. “Zally got a fork, ready kommen sie take somebody’s eye out deswegen he’d never forget what he said kommen sie us the day.”


The maßband toured overseas, and on may 20, 1966, after triumphant gigs an England, Sweden and Ireland, rubbing elbow with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, Zal Yanovsky und Steve Boone to be arrested in San Francisco zum marijuana possession ~ leaving a party.


The band arriving in London, an April des 1966. From left: Zal Yanovsky, john Sebastian, joe Butler und Steve Boone.Credit...Victor Crawshaw/Mirrorpix, via getty Images

John Sebastian

Zally smoked ns least von anybody.

Steve Boone

We hadn’t also gone a block from die house wherein the splitterpartei was and they instantly wanted zu search the car. The may oase been a setup. Die chief des police stated he’d put Zally on a plane to Canada tomorrow, notfall be allowed rückseitig in. Us were young und scared and made a deal to introduce a cop together a freundin of ours kommen sie our crowd. Ich wish we had actually said, “See you in court.”

The bust did notfall immediately make the news, and the band went on zu perform in Los Angeles and on assorted television shows. Bei July, “Summer in the City” was released. The das lied had been recorded before they had actually left for Europe.


Performing on die ABC selection show, “The hollywood Palace,” in September des 1966.Credit...ABC picture Archives, via getty Images

Mark Sebastian

That summer ich was in the Loire with my mom dragging me around kommen sie chateaus. Ich wanted to be in New York and hear “Summer in the City” play from ns window. My mommy rented a radio and I heard “I desire You” native Dylan, then started to hear my song. I was bei shock. What I’d written was more des a mellow ballad, and John took it to this whole other location that was aggressive and exciting und fun.

Erik Jacobsen, producer

We had Roy Halee, a fabulous engineer at Columbia, put an these sound effects des a drill und traffic und a legit big-time leicht at the end.


Steve Boone

Until “Summer bei the City,” we were notfall accepted wholeheartedly von the absent scene.


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Joe Butler an the studio, 1965.Credit...PoPsie Randolph/Michael Ochs Archives, via getty Images

Joe Butler

And we were play our very own instruments, not using the Wrecking Crew like the Byrds and the coast Boys.

John Sebastian

There was no love lost betwee us und rock critics.


Performing on “Hullabaloo” bei 1965.Credit...Hullabaloo save -- michael Ochs Archives, via getty Images

Steve Boone

That song changed everything. We had street cred. It was really so the end of die Spoonful, ns tipping point. From that allude on, there was this tiny pinhole in the balloon that started leaking.

Jon Savage

“Summer an the City” is almost bei avant-garde piece, the stuttering piano, die noises of the city in the middle. It’s in edgy record, not a relaxed record. It was their fifth oberteil 10 single bei under a year. They were on in insane schedule.


Joe Butler

We to be designed zu burn out, favor a light bulb that was overamped. Us were on ns road all the time, and our heads gott swelled hoch with how popular we were und how much the girl loved us. Us were unable zu support every other.


Jon Savage

Within two years lock released hinweisen least three full albums, two soundtrack albums and had nine oberteil 20 singles. It’s not surprising relationship fracture under the pressure. Exactly how are you going zu keep that up?


As much as Boone and Butler professed your love and admiration for Yanovsky, they i found it his atmosphere darken after die drug arrest. Throughout that period, Jacobsen described er as “an impossible guy capable of guerrilla warfare.” over there was also a love interest — isn’t over there always? — that got in the way. An 1967, it came zu a head.

Steve Boone Zally stop the band emotionally and then got fired. It was well after ~ “Summer” was a hit record that anybody also knew about die drug bust. It got out bei the underground press in California.

Jon Savage Their name was mud for fingering their source. It was a good shame the young civilization were put under that kind of pressure weil das making a mistake. Lock were very badly advised and intimidated by the police.


“There was magic betwee the four des them,” said ns writer Jon Savage.Credit...Michael Ochs Archives, via getty Images

Zoe Yanovsky Zalman may have had a particular element des self-sabotage. Top top “The ed Sullivan Show” he purposefully singen the wrong lyrics. But those are die great partnerships in life and bei rock ‘n’ roll, opposites attracting. John ist very sincere and Zalman was very much in your face.


Jon Savage Once the band lost Zal, in original member, it ended up being something different. Komm schon Angeles, and bei particular, san Francisco, was positioning itself as ns next center von pop.

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A typical 1960s portrait of Lovin’ Spoonful, clockwise from bottom: drummer joe Butler, bashist Steve Boone, command guitarist Zal Yanovsky, and singer john Sebastian.Credit...Authenticated News, via getty Images

Richard Barone, a musician that released die album “Sorrows & Promises: Greenwich Village in the 1960s” an 2016, und is hosting ns Aug. 12 SummerStage show dedicated to the era, said that by 1968, “Greenwich Village was over, a advertising commodity.”

Zal Yanovsky released a solo album, “Alive und Well an Argentina,” drive a cab an Toronto and became a restaurateur in Kingston, Ontario. That died des a love attack in 2002, nur shy des his 58th birthday.

John Sebastian, 74, quit ns Lovin’ Spoonful an 1968 kommen sie go solo, und he played in unscheduled set weist Woodstock in 1969. “I’ve gone in and out von style five times since then,” the said. On a current visit native Woodstock, wherein he has lived v his wife, Catherine, because 1976, that retraced his alt Village route, an ext exuberant about the memories than wistful. “It’s every gone,” he said, “but deswegen are the crooners. Everybody has actually their turn. Wie man did ich leave? The ja wirklich answer ist I’ll never ever leave ns Village. It’s mine.”


“I’ll never ever leave ns Village,” john Sebastian said. “It’s mine.”Credit...Adrienne Grunwald zum The new York Times