Sugar, Sugar: Number One Song of 1969

Sugar, Sugar
Single: The Archies
Album: Everything's Archie
B-side: Melody Hill
Released: May 24, 1969 (Calendar label)
Re-released July 1969 (Kirshner label)
Genre: Bubblegum pop
Songwriter: Andy Kim, Jeff Barry
Producer: Jeff Barry

Billboard's Top 5 Songs of 1969
The number one song of 1969 in the United States was by a cartoon group. The Archies' "Sugar, Sugar" beat out hits by the Beatles,  Elvis Presley, and Stevie Wonder.  It spent 22 weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100; four of them atop the chart. "Green River" by Creedence Clearwater Revival and "Jean" by Oliver both stalled at number two, kept from the top spot by the comic book band. No other fictional group has ever claimed Billboard's annual Hot 100 top spot. It sold enough copies to become a Gold record. And it wasn't the first nor only Top 40 Archies' hit. "Bang-Shang-A-Lang" was released in 1968 and "Jingle Jangle" followed up "Sugar, Sugar." 

Bang-Shang-A-Lang
Single: The Archies
Album: The Archies
B-side: Truck Driver
Released: August 31, 1968
Genre: Bubblegum Pop
Songwriter: Jeff Barry
Producer: Jeff Barry

The Archies, an animated band based on a comic book and featured in a Saturday morning cartoon series, was the brainchild of Don Kirschner. Kirshner created hits for The Monkees' 1966 TV series with songs recorded by session musicians. The members of that group were frustrated musicians who wanted to play their own songs.

The Archies' Show Intro

When they fired Kirschner in 1967, his solution was to start an animated band. If session musicians left, they could be easily replaced. The first single by The Archies was "Bang-Shang-A-Lang." Written and produced by Jeff Barry for their self-titled debut album, it peaked at number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the only single - in Episode 1 - that appeared in the original cartoon series. The B-side, "Truck Driver," was used in Episode 3.


Sugar, Sugar (1969)
Mike (Nesmith) and Peter (York) said,
"It's a piece of junk. We're never going to do this song."
Don Kirschner on offering the Monkees "Sugar, Sugar"
"Sugar, Sugar" was written by Jeff Barry and Andy KimThe sound engineer, Fred Weinberg, had worked on the Jeff Barry penned songs  "Be My Baby" and "Baby, I Love You" by The Ronettes.  He would record Andy Kim's "Rock Me Gently" in 1974. It was first offered to The Monkees as a follow-up to their Neil Diamond written hit "I'm a Believer." In an interview, Kirschner said"Mike and Peter said, 'It's a piece of junk. We're never going to do this song.' Mike proceeded to put his fist through the wall at the Beverly Hills' hotel and so, as we say, the rest is history."

The Monkees

The song was performed by session musicians. Ron Dante of The Cufflinks provided the male vocals and Toni Wine was the female voice. Dante produced "Mandy" for Barry Manilow and "Heartbreaker" for Pat Benatar.  Toni Wine wrote the hit songs "A Groovy Kind Of Love" and "Candida." They were only paid a session fee and Wine quit after "Sugar, Sugar" became a huge hit.  Wilson Pickett released a cover of the song in 1970. His record peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and reached number 4 on the R&B chart. The line "Pour a little sugar on me, baby" inspired the title for Def Leppard's hit "Pour Some Sugar On Me."

In a 1973 interview with Lou Reed, the famed music journalist Lester Bangs mockingly asked if Reed  could give up 'artsy stuff' and write something banal like "Sugar, Sugar." Reed answered, "I would if I could... I wish I'd written it." 

Lester Bangs

In The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll Bangs wrote: "The phenomenal success of this funny-paper combo led to a thousand Saturday-morning kiddy-video copies in the waning sixties and early seventies, including the leggy Josie and the Pussycats (actually a spin-off), Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution (acid-crazed simians), the Bugaloos (my personal faves), the Groovy Goolies (Munsters dipped in monosodium glutamate), the Banana Splits (whose theme song with its strange imagery - "Four banana, three banana, two banana, one / Five bananas playin' in the bright blue sun." - will be in my head unto the grave)."


Jingle Jangle
Single: The Archies
Album: Jingle Jangle
B-side: Justine
Released: November 1969
Songwriter: Jeff Barry, Andy Kim

"Jingle Jangle," the follow-up to "Sugar Sugar," was The Archies' second-highest charting hit. It reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 single's chart and number 27 on the U.S. Easy Listening chart.  This song also sold over one million copies, garnering a second gold disc award. As with "Sugar, Sugar," Archie's vocals were provided by Ron Dante and Betty's by Toni Wine. Jeff Barry supplied the male bass voice in "Jingle Jangle," portrayed as Jughead's in the cartoon, 


One distribution method for the Archies' was music embossed cardboard records on the back of cereal boxes. They were cut out and played on a turntable. Their music was also available on standard issue LPs and 45s.

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