Joey Levine induction
Joey Levine inducted by Kim Cooper:
In bubblegum music, as in all great art, it's the deviations from the norm that are most fascinating. Joey Levine of the Ohio Express is bubblegum royalty, and in the whole kinderpop canon, there's no one else like him. It's a thrill to present his Bubblegum Achievement Award tonight.
As a songwriter (working with his Third Rail band mate Artie Resnick), Joey gave the genre its most iconic double entendre food metaphor in "Yummy Yummy Yummy" and also its hardest rocker in "Quick Joey Small." His unmistakable singing voice, that exquisitely snotty schoolyard sneer, leant a hint of punk menace to an otherwise vanilla scene--so to those who were paying attention, it wasn't much of a shock when a bubblegum-punk crossover was achieved by the Ramones.
Bubblegum is supposed to be about studio bands where the producers pulled the strings. But even at 17, Joey was savvy enough to understand the dynamic, make the most of his opportunities and get out before bitterness set in.
If you want to have some fun later, you can go on the internet and visit the ASCAP and BMI websites. Look up "Joey Levine." On BMI, you'll find 247 crazy rock and roll titles, among them the magnificent "Chew Chewy," "Down At Lulu's," "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'," and "Try It," not to mention "Dammi Dammi L'Amor," which I'm pretty sure is "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" en espanol, though it might be a loose translation of "Yummy Yummy Yummy."
Over on ASCAP, the Other Joey Levine holds court. Because in his twenties, the Bubblegum King took on a new mantle, that of Jingle King. And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense: any great bubblegum song, when boiled down to its super sweet and sticky essence, could just as easily be an advertisement. "Sometimes you feel like a nut"--that's Joey. "Just For The Taste of It, Diet Coke," too. And "Sitting on a Ritz." The bubblegum factory taught him well, and he's made quite a career out of it.
When people talk about bubblegum music, they inevitably celebrate the hooks Joey Levine brought to our lives. So with great appreciation for the joys, Almond and sonic, that he's given us, I present this Bubblegum Achievement Award to the punkest gumster of them all, Mr. Joey Levine!