The Electric Prunes Embodied A Movement

I couldn’t resist the title (although I probably should have) but the Electric Prunes were typical of the many colorfully-named groups that seemed to be around in the psychedelic Sixties. It was an era for inventive names, and whether those monikers were really the result of a drug-induced haze or marketing — or both — there were certainly a lot of them around.

I’ve written before about at least one of them — The Peanut Butter Conspiracy — but there were plenty of others; among them Strawberry Alarm Clock, Bubble Puppy, and the Electric Prunes, a group with a name that evokes images best left alone. The band is probably mostly remembered for its biggest hit, 1967’s “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night,” and it also contributed two songs to the soundtrack of the 1969 counterculture film, Easy Rider.

The Electric Prunes were originally known as the Sanctions, and were comprised of lead vocalist James Lowe, Ken Williams, Michael Weakley, Joe Dooley and Mark Tulin. Although the guys had some talent, they weren’t able to get a lot of career traction until they joined up with some professionals behind the scenes. Helped by some new music and inventive studio effects, the band’s music took off with their first hit, “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night.”

Their follow-up, a much-altered version of Bo Diddley’s “Get Me to the World on Time,” (video below) also proved to be a hit with fans. By then the group had generated two albums and had taken more control of their own music, but their third album, 1968’s Mass in F Minor, which seemed to be filled with psychedelic religious tunes, didn’t do as well.

The Electric Prunes dissolved by the end of the decade, but some of the guys got together again a few years ago — almost four decades after their initial success. At last report, they’re still performing and entertaining their fans.

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