Love it or hate it, there's no denying that bubblegum music - true bubblegum, not boy bands or tweener divas like Britney Spears - was quite the phenomenon in its heyday (roughly 1968 to 1974). Reportedly, it all started with rock guru Don Kirsher, tired of dealing with the egos of his manufactured pop group the Monkees, decided to create a TRULY manufactured group with no real faces and names to get in the way. Hence, the Archies' "Sugar, Sugar," which was sung by Ron Dante (who created several pop hits under different names, such as "Tracy" by the Cuff Links and the Detergents' "Leader of the Pack" parody, "Leader of the Laundromat).
At around the same time, Neil Bogart's Buddah records hired the writing-production team of Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz to mass-produce some pre-teen pop in the vein of their earlier hit, the Music Explosion's "A Little Bit Of Soul." Under a series of shifting names, and employing some of the best session men in the business, Kasenetz-Katz would go on to define bubblegum (literally; they named the genre themselves). It's easy to laugh at such a faceless - and sometimes tuneless - assembly line, but some of these songs are classics: the aforementioned Music Explosion hit, the Lemon Pipers' "Green Tamborine," the Ohio Express' string of hits like "Yummy Yummy Yummy," and the 1910 Fruitgum Company's "Indian Giver" (so cool, the Ramones covered it).
Bubblegum never really went away, either: writer and vocalist Andy Kim went on to score with "Rock Me Gently," Bogart went on to produce concepts like KISS and the Village People, while the music itself lived on in Saturday morning cartoons like "Josie and the Pussycats" and "Scooby-Doo," not to mention influencing an entire generation of new rockers who saw past the wrapper. Sugary, yes. But the flavor lasts a long, long time.
Here are some links to the best bubblegum and bubblegum-related sites. If you see one that you think should be here, but isn't, e-mail me!
- Nostalgia Central A good short history and definition of the music for neophytes.
- The Classic Bubblegum Music Page A vast site for the TRUE bubblegum fanatic - history, articles, analysis, essays, chart action, the latest news, a regular column... there's no other site like it on the net!
- Bubblegum World A fine site that reveals the names and faces behind bubblegum's most popular "bands."
- Bubble Gum Music Not quite the definitive site it claims to be, but a great source of info, a very academic treatment of just what bubblegum is and what it isn't.
- Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth! Site for the book of the same name, which chronicles the history of the music. Excerpts, reviews and more.
- Oldies and Bubblegum Music Group The official page for this Yahoo! Group devoted to oldies in general and bubblegum in particular.
- Ohio Express Bubblegum's biggest hitmakers have an official site here - and they still perform!
- Ron Dante Online The voice of the Archies has a rich musical history that you can read about at this, his official site.
- Bubblegum Music A site devoted solely to original bands creating NEW bubblegum!