10 sweet things you never knew about the Archies
True facts about the ultimate fictional pop band.
The Chipmunks may have invented the idea, and Gorillaz may have pushed the concept into the 21st century, but there will never be a cartoon band quite like the Archies.
To date, the Archies are the only fictional band to ever top Billboard's year-end pop chart, as "Sugar, Sugar" was the top-selling song in America in 1969. Perhaps that will change in a future when we consume holographic pop stars in virtual reality, but for now the record belongs to Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Betty and Veronica.
Well, we should credit the geniuses behind the screen. Spun out of the pages of Archie Comics and The Archie Show cartoon, the Archies studio band was put together by svengali Don Kirshner. He assembled a talented team of songwriters, producers and singer, including Ron Dante, Andy Kim, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and many more.
Let dig into the craze of the late 1960s that kickstarted a bubblegum movement.
Scooby Doo was originally inspired by the Archies.
After the Archies became a smash pop sensation, CBS's head of daytime programming Fred Silverman requested a new cartoon that would essentially be the Archies solving mysteries. Hanna and Barbera came up with Mysteries Five, which evolved into Who's S-S-Scared? which became Scooby Doo. The dog was originally a sheepdog, like Jughead's Hot Dog, named Too Much. Legend has it that Silverman came up with the name "Scooby Doo" from a scat in Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night." However, we find it far more than coincidental that the Archies' first single, released in 1968, was called "Feelin' So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y-D.O.O.)."
Lead vocalist Ron Dante sang for other fictional and bubblegum bands.
Dante was an unheralded bubblegum ace behind the scenes. As his "Sugar, Sugar" vocals were topping the charts, another anonymous pop song featuring his voice was in the Top 10 — "Tracy" by the Cuff Link. Dante later would record vocals for the Chan Clan's "Number One Son," a product of the 1972 Saturday morning cartoon The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan.
Dante sang Betty and Veronica's lead vocals on "Jingle, Jangle," too.
Dante was versatile enough to slip into androgyny. "Jingle Jangle" was the group's second best selling song, moving more than a million units. We were meant to believe that either Betty or Veronica was singing the verses, but it was actually Dante in falsetto.
Singer Toni Wine also wrote massive hits like "A Groovy Kind of Love" and "Candida."
But there were women singing on these Archies records. Toni Wine provided the honeyed female vocals on "Sugar, Sugar." She penned chart busters like "A Groovy Kind of Love" for the Mindbenders and "Candida" for Tony Orlando and Dawn. She also sang backup on Willie Nelson's "Always on My Mind."
The voice of Jughead is a songwriter legend.
Jeff Barry and his then-wife Ellie Greenwich were key crafters of the girl group sound in the 1960s. The duo composed brilliant gems like "Do Wah Diddy Diddy," "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Then He Kissed Me," "Be My Baby," "Chapel of Love," and "River Deep - Mountain High," some of the greatest pop songs in history. Barry also provided the deep bass vocals bits of Jughead, the "drummer" for the Archies.
Image: Archie Comics / Giphy
There were knock-off Archies performing around the country.
One of the side effects of nobody know what the musicians actually looked like was that eager promoters around the country slapped together fake Archies acts to cover the tunes in concert. A company called Delta Productions was pushing this phony Archies act at the time, though they at least put "Archies" in quotes. If you saw an Archies concert in the 1960s, it was probably not the people on the records.
The first time Dante and Wine performed "Sugar, Sugar" together live was in 2006.
In fact, Ron Dante said that the first time he and Toni Wine performed their iconic duet together live and in person was in 2006, for a Jerry Lewis MDA telethon.
Billboard ranks "Sugar, Sugar" as the No. 78 single of the modern era.
In 2015, Billboard magazine ranked its top 100 pop singles of the rock 'n' roll era, from 1955 to 2015. "Sugar, Sugar" ranked at No. 78, between Pharrell Williams' "Happy" and Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are." There have been millions of songs released, but only a few dozen as big as this one.
They had cardboard records on the backs of cereal boxes.
Did you cut out an Archies record from a box of Super Sugar Crisp? Thousands and thousands of kids did. We doubt those sales were counted towards the Billboard accounting, right?
The band's strangest single hit No. 1 in Scandinavia.
The Archies recorded a surprising five total albums. The later records, like the Monkees, ventured into adult territory, country sounds, gentle psychedelia and mild protest. In other words, as it was 1970, the group went hippie. "Summer Prayer for Peace" was a truly bizarre tune that was little more than a guy reading off population counts for countries around the world. Yep, there are a lot of people. Nevertheless, the Swedes ate it up.