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Dr. Hook Biography

Home > Music > D > Dr. Hook > Biography

Birth Place: New Jersey, United States
Years Active: 1967–1985
Genres: Rock, Country

Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show was a rock band that came together in Union City, New Jersey in the late 1960s. The founding core of the band consisted of three Southerners who had worked together in a band called The Chocolate Papers, George Cummings, Ray Sawyer and Billy Francis. Cummings, who moved to New Jersey with the plan of forming a new band, brought back Sawyer to rejoin him. They then took on future primary vocalist, Jersey native Dennis Locorriere, at first as a bass player. Francis, who had returned South after The Chocolate Papers broke up, returned to be the new band's keyboardist. Popeye Phillips came on board as the band's drummer, who was later replaced by Joseph Olivier, and then by John “Jay” David.

In 1970, their demo tapes were heard by Ron Haffkine, musical director on the planned Herb Gardner movie, “Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?” The songs for the film were written by the cartoonist, poet and songwriter Shel Silverstein, who determined that Dr. Hook was the ideal group for the soundtrack. The group recorded two songs for the film, Locorriere sang the lead on both “The Last Morning,” the movie's theme song, later re-recorded for their second album, “Sloppy Seconds,” and “Bunky and Lucille,” which the band can be seen performing in the film. The film, released in 1971, received mixed critical reviews and did only modestly at the box office, but it helped Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show secure their first recording contract.

Clive Davis of CBS Records quickly signed the band and put out their debut album, “Doctor Hook” in 1971. The album included their first hit, the Silverstein penned, “Sylvia's Mother.”

In 1972 they added bassist Jance Garfat and another guitarist Rik Elswit. The band's second single, also written by Siliverstein, “The Cover of Rolling Stone,” from their album, “Sloppy Seconds,” earned them the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, ironically the song suggested that a musician had “made it” if they landed on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.

The band's 1976 album, “A Little Bit More,” scored a hit with the lead single of the same name, which paved the way for a series of hit singles for the band during the 1970s. Of note were “When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman,” peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, and “Sexy Eyes” peaking at #5. “When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman,” from the 1978 album, “Pleasure and Pain,” reached #1 for several weeks in 1979 in the U.K.

Over the next few years the band went through more line-up changes, a particular blow came when founding member Cummings left in 1975 due to personal and musical differences. Cummings departure left the band somewhat fractured, which they never quite recovered from. The band embarked on one tour after another despite the line-up disruptions.

As the 1980s progressed, Francis had left the band, leaving Sawyer as the lone original member. Sawyer began to tour as “Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook” as the band dissolved. By 2000, Francis began joining Sawyer to play occasional concerts. Locorriere relocated to Nashville and went on to have a successful solo career.