Peppermint Trolley: Clavinet ’67

It’s always a thrill when somebody who actually served on the front lines of music history reaches out to help fill in some of the historical gaps.  Just last month, Danny Faragher of the Peppermint Trolley Company chimed in on an earlier NRBQ piece that attempts to identify the earliest popular recording of a clavinet:

“I played a clavinet while recording with our group, the Peppermint Trolley Company (1967-68).  We cut our hit single, Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mindin November of 1967 for Acta.  The record broke in May and June of 1968.  I played the instrument through a Fender amp with the tremolo prominent.  I used it throughout our eponymously titled LP.   In the Seventies, recording with the bands, Bones, and the Faragher Brothers, I would return to the ax occasionally, playing more in the R&B style pioneered by Stevie Wonder and Billy Preston.”

“Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind”     Peppermint Trolley Company     1967

“Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind” would stay in the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for ten weeks and peak in July, 1968 just inside the Top 60.  Billboard would identify this single as worthy of its “Special Merit Spotlight” (new singles “deserving special attention of programmers and dealers”) in the February 3, 1968 edition:  “Smooth blend of voice, good material in an easy beat folk rock vein with much commercial appeal.”

Picture sleeve for UK 45 on EMI’s Stateside imprint

Peppermint Trolley 45-bBut wait a minute, why does the song title sound familiar?   And Jesse Lee Kincaid, the person who penned the tune — why does that name ring a bell?  That’s because Zero to 180 already featured “Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind” back in December, 2014!

Faragher’s clavinet (which predates NRBQ’s “Stomp” by just over a year) can be heard more prominently on the single’s B-side — a baroque slice of psychedelic pop, “9 O’Clock Business Man,” somewhat in contrast to the ‘West Coast harmony style’ (later dubbed “sunshine pop“) for which the group is more known.  By the way, if you enjoyed the dance to “9 O’Clock Business Man” in the video link above, check out this other performance of the same song at Hamilton, Ontario’s Gage Park. by Mike Long, an unstoppable dance force.

Peppermint Trolley 45-aaHow curious to learn that the Peppermint Trolley Company would be part of a lineup for a big music event attended by 120,000 people at an amusement park in Aurora, Ohio in 1968,  just one year before my dad would relocate to that rural Cleveland suburb from Cincinnati — as chronicled on Danny Faragher’s website:

“‘Our live dates were rare’ – (says Faragher) – ‘We probably played about ten gigs during the entire life span of the band… Bakersfield, Phoenix, and then there was the Biggie in Cleveland.’  This ‘Biggie’ was a package concert …WIXY’s second annual ‘Appreciation Day,’ held on August 2, 1968 in Geauga Lake Park, just outside of Cleveland, Ohio.  The Peppermint Trolley Company. shared the stage with Gene Pitney, The Box Tops, Jay and the Techniques, The 1910 Fruitgum Co., and [Ted Nugent’s]  Amboy Dukes.  The event drew a crowd of 120,000 attendees.  At that time, it was the largest audience ever assembled in the Cleveland area.”
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In addition to arranging and singing the original Brady Bunch theme, the Peppermint Trolley Company would also make a guest appearance on The Beverly Hillbillies, as well as this episode of detective series, Mannix (where the owner of the recording studio is played by Harry Dean Stanton, who would later introduce The Replacements on their sole Saturday Night Live appearance):

The Beatles – EMI artists – listed on the rear of Peppermint Trolley’s UK picture sleeve:

Peppermint Trolley 45-bbA near-mint copy of the Peppermint Trolley debut album might set you back as much as $75.  Peppermint Trolley fans might also be intrigued to know there exists an “extremely rare promotional 45 sent to radio stations in 1967 for Sunn Guitar amplifiers” with three radio spots for The Who on the A-side, with the Peppermint Trolley singing a radio spot to “She’s the Kind of Girl” and another featuring bassist Greg Tornquist saying “it sounds groovy and clean.”