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The Lovin' Spoonful Biography


Home > Music > T > The Lovin' Spoonful > Biography


Birth Place: New York, N.Y., United States
Years Active: 1965–1969, 1980, 1991-present
Genres: Pop Rock, Folk Rock


The Lovin' Spoonful is a pop/rock band that began in the 1960s. Their style of music was rooted in the folk music scene of Greenwich Village at the time. John Sebastian spearheaded the band and recruited guitarist Zal Yanovsky from The Mugwumps. The two musicians played coffee houses and local venues as a duo at first until the addition of Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty. Drummer Joe Butler and bassist Steve Boone rounded out the line-up.

The band began to lay down tracks in the studio with Elektra Records in early 1965, but eventually signed with Kama Sutra Records later that same year. The band release their debut single, “Do You Believe in Magic” in 1965, which was an instant hit with their new fan base, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. The band followed up with a series of hit singles and albums throughout 1965 and 1966. Of note were, “You Didn't Have to Be So Nice,” peaking at #10 on Hot 100 and “Daydream,” peaking at #2. “Summer in the City,” hit the #1 slot on the Hot 100 in 1966. The band was particularly successful due to their ability to cross over from folk to pop and appeal to mainstream audiences.

The band rose to success fairly quickly in the late 1960s after appearing on “The Monkees” television show at the height of their success, having their song “Pow!” used in the opening to Woody Allen's debut feature film, “What's Up, Tiger Lily,” and Sebastian composing the music for Francis Ford Coppola's second film, “You're a Big Boy Now.” All of the publicity that ensured from the band's ventures tripped their fan base overnight.

1967 marked Yanovsky's departure from the band, being replaced by Jerry Yester of the Modern Folk Quartet. Around this time the band's sound began to move towards a pop-oriented sound. With the new band member the band put out two new singles, “She Is Still A Mystery” and “Money,” in addition to the 1967 album, “Everything Playing.” A year later saw the departure of Sebastian himself to pursue a solo career. The band became a trio with drummer Butler taking over lead vocals duties.

The band's commercial success began to wane after the departure of Sebastian and by 1970 the remaining trio called it quits and went their separate ways following the release of their album “Revelation: Revolution '69.” A decade later saw the original band members, Sebastian, Yanovsky, Butler and Boone reunited briefly for a show at the Concord Hotel in 1979.

Another decade passed and in the 1990s, Butler and Boone decided to reinvent The Lovin' Spoonful again with Jerry Yester, his brother, Jim Yester on guitar, and drummer John Marrella. Jim Yester left the group after one year and was replaced by Jerry's daughter, Lena Yester on keyboards in 1993. Mike Arturi replaced Marrella on drums in 1996, and Phil Smith joined on guitar in 2000, replacing Lena Yester. The original four members of the Lovin' Spoonful were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2000. The original members performed “Do You Believe In Magic” at the ceremony. Two years later in 2002, Yanovsky died. Butler and Boone continue to perform as The Lovin' Spoonful.