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 Formerly known as The Sixpence, this California based group was originally made up of Ed King (lead guitar), Lee Freeman (rhythm guitar), Gary Lovetro (bass), Mark Weitz (organ), and Randy Seol (drums).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 in their prime.

Before recording their full-length debut album, the band added a second bass guitarist, George Bunnell, 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 U.S. 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 #23 in January, 1968. It would prove to be the band's last Billboard Top 40 hit.

Between 1968's album, "The World In A Seashell" and 1969's "Good Morning Starshine" the group 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. In 1970, the band appeared in the Russ Meyer film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, but by that time much of the interest in their music had disappeared. They kept performing for some time, touring the South later that same year and with Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1971. In the latter part of '71, the group found themselves dropped from Uni Records and conflict over musical direction caused them to disband. Ed King was invited to join Lynyrd Skynyrd in November, 1972, where he stayed until 1975, then again from 1987 to 1996.

Strawberry Alarm Clock reunited during the '80s for a succession of summer of love revisited tours with such bands as Moby Grape and The Seeds. Their memory would be brought to the forefront again in 1997 when "Incense And Peppermints" was featured in the film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. 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 were Mark Weitz, Randy Seol, George Bunnell, Gene Gunnels and Howie Anderson.

On April 1st, 2012, the group released "Wake Up Where You Are" on the Global Recording Artists label. It was the band's fifth studio album and first since 1969. After film critic Roger Ebert died in 2013, his widow, Chaz Ebert, asked Strawberry Alarm Clock to appear at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills as part of a tribute to her late husband. The band performed a half-dozen songs, followed by a screening of the film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. In the months after the Saban Theater engagement, band members made plans to write and record some new material for an EP. On October 21st, 2012, the group performed at the 29th annual Love Ride benefit in Glendale, California, after which they were awarded proclamations from the City of Los Angeles to commemorate the 45th anniversary of "Incense and Peppermints" reaching #1. The band continued to make sporadic appearances across America in 2014 and 2015.

Be sure to read Gary James' Interview with George Bunnell