Jeff Barry’s Bubblegum Blues
interview by Don Charles
“Some songs, like ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ people hear and they get sad. I think I’d rather have them get happy! That’s really where I was coming from.” That’s how songwriter/producer extraordinaire Jeff Barry sums up his musical philosophy, a philosophy that moved millions of dollars’ worth of vinyl around the world during the 1960s. Jeff Barry was the crown king of bubble gum rock producers (only Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz’ A & R staff came close to challenging his dominance of the genre).
Jeff Barry: I was born in Brooklyn. When I was about seven, my parents got divorced, and I moved in with my mom and sister in Plainfield, New Jersey. I lived there until I was eleven, and then we moved back to Brooklyn. For some reason, I was hearing a lot of country music. As long as I can remember, I’ve always loved horses, and probably without realizing it, I liked listening to country and western music because that went along with horses!
Don Charles: My research indicates that your family name was Adelberg . . .
Jeff Barry: Yes, that
The Melodic Milestones of Jeff Barry
by Chris Davidson
The bubblegum firmament boasts many a bigwig but none bigger and firmer than Jeff Barry, a man blessed with ears you should smooch the next time you see him. For without those nutty lobes, which uncannily heard glistening super-pop pumping up from the subway grilles on his stroll to the office down Broadway every morning, we
Tommy James & The Shondells
by Bill Holmes
Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich reportedly wrote the song in twenty minutes as a filler track that became the b-side of a failed single. The Spinners, then trolling the bus tour circuit, had it in their repertoire to help get a few people out on the dance floor. Tommy James, nee Jackson, grew up near the Michigan/ Indiana border and would often check out the Chicago and Detroit bands that came through the area. And when James needed another song to cut with his band the Shondells for a local DJ named Jack Douglas, he remembered the dumb riff that caught his ear. Having only heard the song once, James didn’t even know the words, so he made some up and mumbled the others. It was just a riff after all. Douglas released the song on his Snap Records label, and after the usual brief local buzz, the record faded away.
That was until Mad Mike Metro, a Pittsburgh DJ, found the record in a bargain bin and started playing it repeatedly on his show, until it eventually soared all the way to number one in the area. By the time he was able to track James down, some local entrepreneur had already bootlegged it and sold thousands of copies. To capitalize on the success of the single, James quickly tried to reassemble the original band, who had all graduated from school and started to go their separate ways. In one of the classic bad career moves of rock