Gary James' Interview With Terry Fischer-Siegel of
The Murmaids only had one hit, but what a hit it was! In the Fall of 1963, their recording of "Popsicles and Icicles" was a Top 5 hit on the charts. Murmaids member Terry Fischer-Siegel fills us in.
Q - So, the Murmaids are back together again are they?
A - Yes, they are.
Q - When did you do this show a the Greek Theatre?
A - That was the first one we did when we got back together. That was about six years ago. What happened was, we had decided to put the group back together. We got a show together. We spent quite a bit of time working that together. It took us about six months. Once we did, the first thing I did was call Brian Byrne, a big disc jockey who put on all these shows once a year at the Greek Theatre called The Legends Of Rock 'n Roll. When I called him, just one day out of the blue, he got on the phone and said "Oh my, God, I've been looking for you guys for eight years." He had a show coming up at the end of the week. They were about to go to press with the program and he was able to get us in. He said "Do you have charts? Do you have costumes? Are you ready to go?" I said "absolutely." So, we were the featured guest at The Greek Theatre the next week.
Q - How does that work when you're on the road? Do you carry your own band or is one supplied for you at the venue?
A - We have never been on tour. We've done some jobs in other places of the country. What happens is, we just get on a plane and go and they have a band there, so we bring our charts.
Q - What type of places are you performing in?
A - Any one who will have us. We've done some oldies shows. We've done one in Detroit...one in Cleveland... one here at the Orange County Fair in Orange County, California...one in Reno, Nevada. We also do parties. We're very big on these Senior communities because we do a lot of the oldies. We also do some older oldies. We do a lot of Andrews Sisters. So, the older crowd likes us. That's kind of what we do.
Q - How many gigs are you doing?
A - Probably one a month. We'd like to do more.
Q - I guess it would be fair to say that everybody has other things going on in their life.
A - Yes, they do. However, we'll all be able to take time off and do what we have to do, because we all work for ourselves.
Q - How big of a hit was "Popsicles And Icicles"?
A - It went to number one in one of the trades.* It went to number 3 in Billboard and Cashbox. So, it was basically number 3 in the country during the time when The Beatles had their first record, "I Want To Hold Your Hand". Their's was number 1 and ours was number 3.
Q - Would "Popsicles And Icicles" have been on the charts prior to November 22nd, 1963?
A - I really couldn't tell you. I think it was just before. But, it was definitely that month.
Q - Who wrote that song? Did you write it?
A - No. The song was written by David Gates of Bread. It was his very first hit. He was a young kid starting out.
Q - How did you and your sister get to record that song?
A - Well, at the time, I was in high school and my sister was in junior high. I had a friend, Mike Post. Do you know who he is?
Q - He writes, arranges instrumentals.
A - Right. He is also the biggest writer for television. He's done everything there is. We went to school together. At that time, he was starting to go into the studios and record some of his songs, just trying to get started in the business, and he would ask us to go in and sing background for him. And so we used to do that every now and then. One day, we were in there singing and Kim Fowley, who was our producer, knew Mike from I don't know where, and he came in and really liked us and said "You girls want to make a record on your own?" and we said "Oh, sure!" And that was the beginning. It happened very, very fast. Within the next, say, oh, 3 months, we had recorded the single, recorded an album and within 3 months had risen to number 3.
Q - How fortunate you were to be surrounded by three legends of the music business - David Gates, Mike Post and Kim Fowley.
A - Oh, yeah. Absolutely. However, the downside is it lasted about 6 months and then it was finished.
Q - You're getting ahead of me. How did life change for you when that song climbed the charts?
A - It didn't at all. A couple of weeks after we recorded the single, we went in and recorded an album which we never heard until about five years ago. We never heard it at that time and that was over forty years ago. I guess we did about two television shows and a local concert here. And that's all we did. At that time, we got a statement from the record company charging us an exobitant amount of money against royalties. They said "you're not getting any money. We don't have it." Everyone else got paid. Kim Fowley got paid. The musicians got paid. We were paid nothing. So, that was the end of The Murmaids.
Q - How many records did that single sell?
A - You know, I really don't know. We never got an accounting. It's only after all these years that we're meeting fans. This is the first time. We didn't do anything, so we never met anybody in those days who were fans of the time. I mean no one. Now, we're meeting people all over the country who say "Oh my God! I love that song." We're just amazed at how many people knew that song. We had no idea.
Q - Couldn't you get an attorney to track down the royalties for you?
A - Yeah, but at this point, I'm sure we wouldn't be entitled to anything. Somebody's making some money, but it's not us.
Q - Did you ever have a manager?
A - No. Our mothers, since we were 14 and 16, acted as manager. When the record was a hit, we had calls from every major record company and mother said "No, this woman (owner of the record label The Murmaids recorded for) took a chance on us and we're gonna stick with her." So we did and got screwed.
Q - What was the name of the label?
A - Chatahoochie. The woman's name (record label owner) was Ruth Conte.
Q - Did American Bandstand call you?
A - If they did, we didn't know about it. They may have called the record company. We did Wink Martindale. We have done more in the last year than we did in 1963. And, it's a lot more fun now. Obviously, we're not doing it for the money to be made. But, we're having fun. We're meeting people whose lives the record touched. It was a time of innocence. People thank us all the time for bringing back such wonderful memories. And that's why we do it. We really have a good time.