Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 9: George Bunnell, bass player for Strawberry Alarm Clock and song writer " Incense and Peppermints" - is 64-years old today.

 George Brunnell was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. His father was in the military and his mother was a talented artist. When his dad was stationed in Norfolk, Va. Their house had a piano. Brunnell has said he played it all the time. In 1952, his family moved to California.

As he got older, George was drawn to playing music. At first he wanted to play fiddle. He also joined the chorus, the glee club and the choir. When I was 12 he started tinkering with a neighborhood guitar. A younger neighbor, Steve Bartek was an accomplished flute player and he and George started writing songs together.

Soon they teamed up with Randy Seol for a band called Thee Sixpence. The band issued a 45 -- "In the Building" b/w "Hey Joe" -- in the spring of 1966. Supposedly, none of the actual bandmembers sang lead on the single; the singer was in fact a vocalist named Greg Munford, who was attending the session as a visitor.

Evenually they changed their name to Strawberry Alarm Clock and were labeled a psychedelic rock band. In late 1967, they released their first album, Incense and Peppermints. In addition to the six regular members of the band, the album also features the flute playing of Steve Bartek, who co-wrote four songs on the album with bass player Bunnell.

The album reached #11 on the Billboard 200 album charts and includes the band's #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Incense and Peppermints." The title track of this album topped national singles charts in December of 1967.

Much of the band's sound is due at least in part to the writing styles of Bunnell, and the uncredited Steve Bartok who played flute and sang. The edgy fuzz-toned guitar sound of "Birds in My Tree" and the Los Angeles freeway-inspired "Paxton's Back Street Carnival" exude a garage rock flavor similar in style to that of Spirit's self-titled debut long-player. Another distinguishing factor is Strawberry Alarm Clock's multi-layered vocals. "Hummin' Happy" and "Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow" are precursors to the sophisticated harmonies.

The tracks "The World's on Fire," "Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow," and "Incense and Peppermints" are all featured in the motion picture Psych-Out, along with a new song; "Pretty Song from Psych-Out."

Stylistically, Wake Up...It's Tomorrow vacillates between the lighter and pop-oriented sides. A compilation album of the same name was released by MCA in 1990. To date, the album has been released on CD only in Japan and (more recently) on Sundazed Records. (Ed King, the Strawberry Alarm Clock guitarist, went on to fame in Lynyrd Skynyrd.)

In 2012, Wake Up Where You Are, the first new album from the Strawberry Alarm Clock in over 40 years, is now being sold. The album is a mix of new SAC songs and reinterpretations of their psychedelic rock classics. “Wake Up Where You Are” kicks off with the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s blistering cover of the Seeds’ “Mr. Farmer.” The album was produced by longtime Strawberry Alarm Clock collaborator Steve Bartek.

The band — currently Mark Weitz, George Bunnell, Randy Seol, Howie Anderson and Gene Gunnels —performed a rare L.A. concert on April 25, 2012 in support of the CD. The Strawberry Alarm Clock last performed publicly in November 2010.


For more about Strawberry Alarm Clock, visit their Website at-


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