Strawberry Alarm Clock





At the height of the "Flower Power" era of psychedelic music in the mid sixties, Strawberry Alarm Clock gave us one of classic rock's most memorable songs, 1967's, "Incense and Peppermints". Formerly known as The Sixpence, this California based group was originally made up of Ed King (lead guitar), Lee Freeman (rhythm guitar), Gary Lovetro (bass), Mark Weitz (organ), and Randy Seol (drums).

The story of the song, "Incense and Peppermints," is a fascinating one. The recording was initially intended as a 'b-side' and the lead vocal is actually that of a friend of the band, 16 year old Greg Munford, who was just hanging around during the session. He was not even a regular band member, but ended up singing a tune that would rocket to number one in the United States and sell over a million copies. Despite this success, Munford never actually joined the group.

Before recording their full-length debut album, the band added a second bass guitarist, George Bunnell, who was also an accomplished songwriter who's contributions enhanced a style that coupled hippie trappings with enchanting melodies and some imaginative instrumentation.

In the summer of 1967, The Strawberry Alarm Clock contributed music to the film "Psych-Out", as well as appearing in it. The band toured the US with some of the biggest acts of the day, but poor management and dissention among the members started to tear it apart. Bassist Gary Lovetro left the band before they recorded their second album, "Wake Up It's Tomorrow", which also appeared in 1967. A second single release, "Tomorrow" made it to number 23 in January, 1968.

Between 1968's album, "The World In A Seashell" and 1969's "Good Morning Starshine" the band went through a number of line-up changes which undermined their direction. To add to their problems, a manager who double-booked them on several occasions brought on many lawsuits.

Although they remained together until 1971, the Strawberry Alarm Clock was unable to regain its early popularity and saw only limited success on the singles chart with "Sit With The Guru".

Ed King later joined Lynyrd Skynyrd, while several of his former bandmates reunited during the 80s for a succession of "summer of love revisited" tours. Their memory would be brought to the forefront again in 1997 when "Incense And Peppermints" was featured in the first Austin Powers movie.

The entire band who recorded "Incense and Peppermints", including Greg Munford, was set to get together in December, 2004, for the first time since the recording session, but last minute contract problems prevented it. Strawberry Alarm Clock did however re-unite in April 2006 and continued to tour across the U.S., performing new arrangements of their original songs as well as new material into '07, '08 and '09.

In January 2010, Strawberry Alarm Clock began recording new material under the guidance of producer Steve Bartek and engineer Chris Bartek. That collection was slated for release in March, 2012. On February 14th, 2010, founding member Lee Freeman died at the age of 60, from complications arising from cancer. Continuing on as Strawberry Alarm Clock are Mark Weitz, Randy Seol, George Bunnell, Gene Gunnels and Howie Anderson.

Be sure to read Gary James' Interview with George Bunnell