“Sugar, ah, honey, honey,
You are my candy girl,
And you got me wanting you–”
One of the most noteworthy garage bands of the 1960s, The Archies showcased the fun side of adolescence with their sunny attitude and catchy pop tunes. They never performed live because, unfortunately, every band member suffered from acute cartoonitis, a condition that renders the afflicted brightly colored and two-dimensional. Archie, Jughead and the rest of the gang peddled their cotton candy sounds on The Archie Show, a Saturday morning cartoon which debuted in 1968.
The Archies (a show and a band named after that guy—what an ego!) may have been fictional but the music was real, performed by real musicians. Don Kirshner brought those flesh-and-blood players together in the studio where they recorded several songs for the animated show. The first one, “Bang-Shang-A-Lang”, reached the #22 spot in the charts but true fame came with “Sugar Sugar” in 1969. The song featured pleasing harmonies and a xylophone, happiest of instruments. We dare you to listen to “Sugar Sugar” and not tap your foot or sing or even shimmy a little. Shimmy a lot for that matter, you’d be in good company: the single went gold that year and booted the Rolling Stones off the top of the charts. Amazing, but true.
Another hit was “Jingle-Jangle” and the group made the charts one more with “Who’s Your Baby”. Three more albums were released by 1971 when no more music was produced. In a rare turn of events for the music industry, Archie and his band mates fought no drug addictions, had no wild parties, passed out in a drunken stupor not at all and trashed very few hotel rooms.
The talented musicians who toiled behind the scenes went on to have fruitful careers of their own. Ron Dante, who provided lead vocals for The Archies, produced most of Barry Manilow’s chart hits in the 70s. Ellie Greenwich and Toni Wine—voicing the girls in the cartoon gang—enjoyed songwriting and singing successes. Andy Kim, a backup vocalist, had the #1 hit single “Rock Me Gently.” Not too bad for a group of people pretending to be drawn teenagers.
If you’ve been humming “Sugar Sugar” under your breath this whole time, or if you just want to share your fondness for The Archies, we welcome your thoughts in our comments section, as we pay tribute to one great cartoon band.