1967 – 1976 (9 years)
Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County, California, United States
- Ed James
- John Petersen
- Ted Templeman
Harpers Bizarre was an American pop-rock band of the 1960s, best known for their Broadway/choirboy sound and their remake of Simon & Garfunkel's "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)."
Harpers Bizarre was formed out of The Tikis, a Californian band who enjoyed some local success with Beatle-like songs in the mid 1960s. In 1967, record producer Lenny Waronker got a hold of the Simon & Garfunkel song "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," determined to make it into a single. The Tikis recorded it, with the arrangement featuring extended harmonies reminiscent of the work of Brian Wilson or even the Swingle Singers. The song was released under a new band name, "Harpers Bizarre" (a play on the magazine "Harper's Bazaar"), so as not to alienate The Tikis' fanbase. The Harpers Bizarre version of the song reached #13 on the American Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1967, far exceeding any success that The Tikis thus far had.
The success of the single prompted Harpers Bizarre to record their debut album. At this point the band consisted of Ted Templeman (vocals, drums, guitar); Dick Scoppettone (born 5 July 1945; vocals, guitar, bass); Eddie James (guitar); Dick Yount (bass, vocals) and John Petersen (born 8 January 1942; drums, percussion, vocals). Petersen had previously already enjoyed a brief spell of success as member of the Beau Brummels; James left shortly after the first recording sessions and was replaced by Dick Young. Under the guidance of producer Lenny Waronker (and Templeman, who emerged as the leader of the group), Harpers Bizarre developed a unique sound which experimented with heavy vocal layering. Most of Harpers Bizarre's recordings are cheerful and airy, both in subject matter and musical accompaniment often with string and woodwind arrangements, resulting in a psychedelic Broadway/Baroque pop sound.
In addition to covering several old standards (including Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" and Gordon and Warren's "Chattanooga Choo Choo"), Harpers Bizarre also recorded the work of several contemporary songwriters, including Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks and Harry Nilsson.
None of the subsequent singles, however, achieved the same level of success as their debut, and the band broke up shortly after their last album was released in 1969.
In 1976, a partial reunion of the group occurred (without Templeman) to record an album, As Time Goes By, that is often overlooked in Harpers Bizarre discographies.
Feelin' Groovy (1967)
Anything Goes (1968)
Secret Life of Harpers Bizarre (1968)
Harpers Bizarre 4 (1969)
As Time Goes By (1976)
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