Friday, September 20, 2019

50 years ago: The Archies top the chart with “Sugar Sugar”

First posted 12/9/2020.

Sugar Sugar

The Archies

Writer(s): Jeff Barry, Andy Kim (see lyrics here)


Released: May 24, 1969


First Charted: July 19, 1969


Peak: 14 US, 14 CB, 13 HR, 22 AC, 18 UK, 13 CN, 5 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.02 UK, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 142.46 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

John I. Goldwater created the Archies comic strip in 1942. In 1968, Filmation Studios created a Saturday morning cartoon based on the strip. Don Kirshner, who’d helmed the Monkees, was hired to supervise music for the series. He hired Jeff Barry, who’d produced “I’m a Believer” for the Monkees, to write songs. Along with Ellie Greenwich, Barry wrote hits such as the Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love,” the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack,” and Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy Diddy.” Co-writer Andy Kim would land a #1 in 1974 with “Rock Me Gently.”

To perform the song, Kirshner assembled a group of studio musicians. Ron Dante sang lead with accompanying vocals from Kim and Toni White. While working with Kirshner’s Aldon Music, Dante sang demos on multiple songs written by legendary songwriting teams like Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, and Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield. He tried to launch a solo career in 1968 with no success. When Kirshner asked Dante to sing anonymously for scale on the Archies’ records, Dante agreed. BR1

The actual performers on the song were kept a secret. As Wine said, it was a trivia question for years about “what group never appeared together, never went on the road together, never interviewed together…and had #1 song?” SF In fact, it went to #1 in the U.S., Canada, South Africa, and the UK. It spent more weeks (22) on the Billboard charts in 1969 than any other song SF and was named song of the year by the magazine.

Dante ended up having two simultaneous top-5 hits with “Sugar Sugar” and “Tracy” by the Cuff Links. He also went on to produce Barry Manilow’s 1975 #1 hit “Mandy” and Pat Benatar’s 1979 top-40 hit “Heartbreaker.” Meanwhile, critics weren’t particularly kind to “Sugar Sugar” although Dante and Barry defended the bubblegum sound as having a large audience. The song gained some credibility when Wilson Pickett covered it in 1970 and took it to #25. BR1


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Archies
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Jeff Barry
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 258.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

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