The Lovin' Spoonful is an American rock band, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and well known for a number of hit songs in the 1960s including "Summer in the City", "Do You Believe In Magic", "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?", and "Daydream". When asked about his band, leader John Sebastian said it sounded like a combination of "Mississippi John Hurt and Chuck Berry," prompting his friend, Fritz Richmond, to suggest the name "Lovin' Spoonful" from a line in Hurt's song, "Coffee Blues".
The band had its roots in the folk music scene based in the Greenwich Village section of lower Manhattan during the early 1960s. John Sebastian, the son of classical harmonicist John Sebastian Sr., grew up in the Village in contact with music and musicians, including folk musicians who were involved with the American folk music revival of the 1950s through the early 1960s. Sebastian formed the Spoonful with guitarist Zal Yanovsky from a bohemian folk group called The Mugwumps (two other members, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty, later formed half of the Mamas & the Papas), playing local coffee houses and small clubs. The formation of the Lovin' Spoonful during this period was later described in the lyrics of the Mamas & the Papas' 1967 top ten hit, "Creeque Alley".
Drummer Jan Carl and bassist Steve Boone rounded out the group, but Carl was replaced by drummer-vocalist Joe Butler after the group's first gig at The Night Owl in Greenwich Village. Butler had previously played with Boone in a group called The Kingsmen (not the hit group of "Louie Louie" fame). The group's first Night Owl performances were reportedly so bad that the club owner told them to go away and practice, so they practiced in the basement of the nearby Hotel Albert until they had improved enough to draw audience attention.
The group made its first recordings for Elektra Records in early 1965, and agreed in principle to sign a long-term deal with Elektra in exchange for a $10,000 advance. However, Kama Sutra Records had an option to sign the Lovin' Spoonful as recording artists as part of a previously signed production deal, and Kama Sutra exercised the option upon learning of Elektra's intent to sign the band. The four tracks recorded for Elektra were released on the 1966 various artists compilation LP What's Shakin' after the band's success on Kama Sutra.
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