Colorado band named Climax - The Summer of 1967 - the move to Hollywood, CA.

Morphing into the Electric Prune brand
2012 Reissue of "The Complete Reprise Singles" from the Electric Prunes.

How musicians in a Colorado band named Climax
morphs into The Electric Prunes..
it was 1967

Mark Kincaid, Guitar
John Herron, Keyboards/Hammond B3
Bob Brandenburg, Bass & Vocals
Dick Whetstone, Drums & Vocals

Climax Band

Formed late in 1966, this Denver based group, a veteran line-up of musicians, blended blues, R&B, soul with rock & roll. They could sound like a four piece Ray Charles band and agilely shift to the heavy influenced Hammond B3 organ sound, reminesent of Steve Winwood's Traffic, yet manage to combine the powerfully dynamic sound presence of Vanilla Fudge.

The band quickly gained a dedicated following and garnered the attention of industry names who would, by the following summer, change forever the direction and legacy of this group.



Climax Band -1967

Mark Kincaid, John Herron, Bob Brandenburg, Dick Whetstone - John Herron drawing of  the Climax BandMark Kincaid - John Herron - Bob Brandenburg - Richard (Dick) Whetstone
Graphic by John Herron '67

1967 - Climax moves to Hollywood
hired to morph into the Electric Prunes,

completing two remaining albums for Reprise/Warner Bros Records.

The Summer of 1967 - the move to Hollywood, CA.

The Electric Prunes reincarnation -

When Electric Prunes producer Dave Hassinger was looking for new musicians to take the group's name, they were steered toward a Colorado band called Climax by guitarist-singer Rich Fifield. Rich Fifield had been in a fellow Colorado group the Astronauts, who'd had some success on RCA as a surf act; by the late '60s, had now formed Hardwater, who were also managed by Lenny Poncher (Manager of the Electric Prunes, Traffic and Ten Years After), as well as being produced by David Axelrod on Capitol Records.

"They called up and said they needed some musicians to fulfill the contract [for] the last two albums for Damo Productions, Dave Hassinger's production company," recalls Richard Whetstone, the drummer in Climax at the time. "They needed a band to fulfill the production agreement." Joining Whetstone in the move to Los Angeles were organist John Herron and guitarist Mark Kincaid, with bassist Brett Wade recruited via the Collectors—the same Canadian band who had played on Mass in F Minor, and who had also been produced by Hassinger. Randy Meisner was actually offered the position first; he turned it down, instead joining the original lineup of Poco, and later of course becoming a star as part of the Eagles. Whetstone confirms that although the band were given the choice of recording under either the Electric Prunes billing or a different name, they opted for the Electric Prunes moniker.

By the time Release of an Oath was issued in 1968, no members were left from the lineup that had recorded

Electric Prunes '67 - Reprise/Warner Bros Records
Electric Prunes 1967 -
Mark Kincaid, John Herron, Dick Whetstone,
Brett Wade
- Warner Bros/Reprise Records

the 1967 smash hit "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)." The newly recruited group of musicians — drummer/vocalist Richard Whetstone, organist John Herron and guitarist Mark Kincaid, along with basist/guitarist Brett Wade (associated with Canadian band the Collectors), were the keepers of the flame. It was this lineup that began work on Just Good Old Rock and Roll, the only Electric Prunes album to feature almost exclusively original material, with Dave Hassinger remaining in the producer's seat. Dave Hassinger, was famed as an engineer for the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane (and as a producer not only of the Prunes, but also of the Grateful Dead's first LP).

Before the LP was finished, however, there would be one final change of personnel, with Ron Morgan coming in on guitar and Herron leaving the group (although his organ work is listed in the credits). Morgan had a fair amount of experience in both the Colorado and Los Angeles rock scenes, having been in the L.A. group Peter and the Wolves (with a pre-Moby Grape Peter Lewis] and the Colorado group Superband; he also played guitar, and wrote some material, on the f rst three albums by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, a legendarily strange and erratic L.A. psychedelic outfit. Also in Superband was keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon. and both Morgan and Greenspoon would be in an early version of Three Dog Night, though Morgan didn't record with the latter band. According to an interview with Morgan's brother, Bob Morgan, on the Electric Prunes Web Page, "Three Dog Night bombed at two shows that I saw, one with Canned Heat and one with Electric Flag. Ron was never happy with their direction, and when [Three Dog Night singer Danny] Hutton gave Ron a contract to sign, Ron brought it to Denver for a lawyer to look over. The lawyer advised Ron not to sign it, since it didn't have any value that benefited Ron's interests. By the time he got back to LA, the band had replaced him.

Electric Prunes 1968
Electric Prunes 1968 - Brett Wade, Mark Kincaid,
Ron Morgan, and Dick Whetstone
(Clayton Gromer would briefly replace Brett Wade on bass in 1969)

As to how Morgan got involved with the Electric Prunes, Richard Whetstone explains, "John Herron was playing keyboards, and contributed a significant amount to the writing, arranging, and lyrics. We did a performance in Las Vegas, and after that, John came back and said, 'I don't want to do this any more.' We were about two-thirds through with Just Good Old Rock and Roll, and we approached Ron to come in and finish recording several tunes and to overdub additional guitar tracks and to add guitar solos. As for Ron, you could wake him up in the middle of the night, strap a guitar on him, and he could play a guitar solo. He was a world-class player, a very, very good player. So we said, 'Okay, we'll bring in Ron, and have him complete all the guitar tracks.' So he joined the band, just after he'd quit Three Dog Night." With the exception of "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers" (cowritten by Jimmy Holiday, co-author of Jackie DeShannon's 1969 smash "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"), all of the material on Just Good Old Rock and Roll (credited on the front cover to "the new improved Electric Prunes") originated with the band, John Herron collaborating with his sister and lyricist Mary Herron on "Sell" and "Tracks." In addition to writing several of the Just Good Old Rock and Roll songs, incidentally, Brett Wade also wrote "Flowing Smoothly," the B-side of the non-LP 1969 single "Hey Mr.President"; both tracks were included as bonus cuts on the CD reissue of Mass in F Minor. "Dave Hassinger had a bright idea about recording a topical, if not somewhat political song titled, 'Hey, Mr. President," discloses Whetstone. "Dave

Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers 45 rpm released in Europe

The 45 rpm single released in Europe bore this sleeve
insisted that we record it. The other song that Dave directed that we record was 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers.' For the background vocals in 'Hey Mr. President,' Brett and I sang falsetto into a microphone that was wired through a spinning Hammond B3 Leslie speaker. It was released as a single, which ironically received more circulation in Europe than the US. Whetstone confirms that for Just Good Old Rock and Roll, the Electric Prunes as they now existed were allowed to be their own band. The record has a much more straightforward, funk-influenced hard rock sound than any previous Electric Prunes long-players, though a few songs, particularly the Wade-penned "So Many People to Tell" and "Silver Passion Mine," had a more delicate late-psychedelic feel. "That's Brett's influence," observes Whetstone. "He came from a different, Canadian approach to songwriting. Although he was playing bass, he was really a guitar player [who] came to us through the well-known Canadian group, the Collectors."

Album cover from Electric Prunes 1969 albumAs for the range of styles on Just Good 0/d Rock and Roll, Whetstone remarks, "We were fairly naive in terms of guidance; we had none, so we were experimenting with a lot of musical styles. If you listen to the album, you'll hear a lot of diversity, feel and tempo changes. One reviewer, at the time, said that it was reminiscent of some of the Yardbirds' tunes. I thought, 'Well, what a nice compliment.' But it was a little disjointed, and probably lacked a cohesive direction. We were just throwing everything into the mix. I think once we had that album completed, we should have started recording another album with the remaining material we had available. That was our learning curve." (The exact review quote Whetstone refers to above, incidentally, was in a June 1969 issue of Boston After Dark, which declared, "The tunes are driving and reminiscent in their abundant tempo changes of the old Yardbirds...Every song has been lovingly polished and yet the hard organ and basic guitar lines leave the visceral immediacy intact.")

Yet this Electric Prunes incarnation would never get to record another album, the group's association with Reprise having run its course. "I often wondered about the album cover for Just Good Old Rock and Roll to me, there's symbolism in the way they photographed that thing," speculates Whetstone. "I don't know if that was some type of subtext of what Reprise was trying to say about the Electric Prunes. It's as if we're waving goodbye, and they're throwing these farewell flowers at us." The band did continue to play live for a time, mixing their new original material with versions of songs such as "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night]" that had been recorded by the previous version of the group. "We had several invitations to tour Europe," reveals Whetstone. "We were all kind of gung-ho for that, but (realized) that the identity of Electric Prunes was with the original band. Quite frankly, as time has borne out, what made the Prunes popular was the original material, and 'Too Much to Dream' is the signature song of the group."

By the early 1970s, the Electric Prunes had disbanded, with Whetstone and Wade going to British Columbia to form Stallion Thumrock, who issued a rare album in 1972 recorded at A&M Studios in LA. Touring extensively across Canada, their LP was distributed by Haida Records/A&M Records Canada.

John Herron went on to play sessions for numerous artists, including Flo & Eddie and Juice Newton, before tragically dying in a 2003 auto accident in Los Angles. Whetstone, now working in photography, technology and viticulture in Denver, is still discovering the extent of interest in the Electric Prunes. "I've picked up albums from Israel, Sweden, France, Argentina, all over the world, albums in all different languages," he declares. "The distribution was a lot larger than I thought. It amazes me that the albums are still out there, and that people continue to be interested in the music."

Editors Note: Ron Morgan passed away in 2000 and shortly after that, Mark Kincaid passed on, according to Ron's brother Robert Morgan

2012 - Reissue of the Electric Prunes - The Complete Reprise Singles

damprock.com - Electric Prunes - The Complete Reprise Singles - CD 2012
Collage/graphic: R J Whetstone


Electric Prunes - 2012
The Complete Reprise Singles
Reissue 2012
on Real Gone Music/RHINO Records

This CD reissue is a beautifully packaged CD containing 24 singles from the Electric Prunes spanning '66-'68. From the original Prunes through the last incarnation, this is a great representation of all single tracks recorded originally for Reprise/Warner Bros.

*Excerpts from liner notes, written by Richie Unterberger, for the 2006 CD reissue of the two final
Electric Prunes albums: Just Good Old Rock & Roll and Release of An Oath, on Collectors Choice Music

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