(Read all about the Archies after the videos)
The Archies is an American fictional garage band founded by Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, Jughead Jones, Veronica Lodge, and Betty Cooper, a group of adolescent characters of the Archie universe, in the context of the animated TV series, The Archie Show. The group is also known for their real world success, through a virtual band.
The fictional band's music was recorded by session musicians featuring Ron Dante on vocals and released as a series of singles and albums. Their most successful song, "Sugar, Sugar", became one of the biggest hits of the bubblegum pop genre that flourished from 1968 to 1972.
The Archies play a variety of contemporary popular music, consistent with the era in which the comic is drawn. They seem to have a preference for rock and roll, however.
Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge later also joined the group. Every member sings vocals, with Jughead handling the bass voice on a few tracks. Though their singing voices were soft and appropriate for pop vocals, their speaking voices are much different. The roles the teens played in the fictional band were:
- Archie: lead vocals / lead guitar
- Reggie: bass guitar / backing vocals
- Jughead: drums
- Betty: tambourine / backing vocals
- Veronica: organ / backing vocals
- Hot Dog: mascot / conductor
The Archies were sometimes jokingly compared to The Doors, as they had no bass player; there was some confusion over whether Reggie played bass or not. In most drawings, his guitar looks identical to Archie's, making him the band's second (or co-lead) guitarist—but a number of drawings clearly show Reggie's instrument to have four tuning keys, the most common bass design. Six-string bass guitars do exist, however, and the Archies' recordings regularly featured a bass player. In more than one comic strip, Reggie is described as playing bass (although this is not necessarily canon, as storylines and hobbies/activities in the Archie world change from story to story). Finally, in the liner notes for 2008's The Archies Christmas Album, Reggie is listed as the bass guitarist.
One distribution mode for the Archies' music was cereal boxes: a cardboard record was embossed directly into the back of a box such that the record could be cut out and played on a turntable (although their music was also available on standard issue LPs and 45s). Though the group no longer appears in animation, they are still frequently used in stories published by Archie Comics.
Other cartoon groups
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, animated series often featured musical groups that were fictional or sometimes based on real life musicians. This dates at least as far back as 1965 with The Beatles, but the Archies helped popularize the concept. Most of these groups played bubblegum pop. Several were also teenage detectives, influenced by Scooby-Doo. These groups included The Groovie Goolies, The Hardy Boys, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, The Banana Splits (actually live action with actors in animal costumes and dubbed speaking voices), The Cattanooga Cats, The Chan Clan, and The Neptunes. Animated versions of The Jackson 5ive, the Osmond Brothers, the Partridge Family, and The Brady Bunch also existed. Archie Comics' own creation Josie and the Pussycats was successful both as an animated series and as a comic book (and later a live action motion picture), but The Bingoes and The Madhouse Glads lacked its popularity and never appeared in animation. Two modern examples of the "cartoon rock group" could include the British band, Gorillaz—a musical project created in 1998 by British musician Damon Albarn and British cartoonist Jamie Hewlett, and Dethklok, a fictional death metal band created by Brendon Small. The Archies are mentioned in an episode of The Simpsons titled Marge's Son Poisoning.
A set of studio musicians was assembled by Don Kirshner in 1968 to perform various songs. The most famous is "Sugar, Sugar", written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, which went to number one on the pop chart in 1969, sold over six million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. In Billboard's Hot 100, it was ranked as the number one song of that year, the only time a fictional band has ever claimed Billboard's annual Hot 100 top spot. Other Top 40 songs recorded by the Archies include "Who's Your Baby?" (U.S. #40), "Bang-Shang-A-Lang" (U.S. #22), and "Jingle Jangle" (U.S. #10). "Jingle Jangle" also sold over one million copies, garnering a second gold disc award.
Male vocals for the fictional Archies group were provided by The Cuff Links' lead singer Ron Dante and female duet vocals were provided by Toni Wine. Wine, who was only paid for the recording session and quit the group when the song became a huge hit, was succeeded in 1970 by Donna Marie, who in turn was replaced on the final recordings by Merle Miller. The only Archies song not to feature Ron Dante on lead was 1971's "Love Is Living In You", sung by Bob Levine (co-author of the song) and produced by Ritchie Adams. The last single, released 1972, was "Strangers in the Morning"; its B-side song was "Plum Crazy".
Jeff Barry, Andy Kim, Ellie Greenwich, Susan Morse, Joey Levine, Maeretha Stewart, Bobby Bloom and Lesley Miller, Jimmy Rooney,contributed background vocals at various times, with Barry contributing his trademark bass voice (portrayed as being sung by Jughead in the cartoon) on cuts such as "Jingle Jangle", "Rock 'n' Roll Music", "A Summer Prayer For Peace" (which hit number one in South Africa and Scandinavia in 1971), and "You Little Angel, You". Musicians on Archies records included guitarists Hugh McCracken and Kerry Swehla, bassists Chuck Rainey and Joey Macho, keyboard player Ron Frangipane, and drummers Buddy Saltzman and Gary Chester.
The Archies' records were initially released on the Calendar Records label, but the name was shortly thereafter changed to Kirshner Records.
The sound engineer was Fred Weinberg, who was Jeff Barry's and Andy Kim's favorite, and who also recorded Barry's other hits Be My Baby, Baby, I Love You, and Kim's Rock Me Gently. Fred Weinberg is an award-winning composer and producer in his own right. However, the music for The U.S. of Archie TV show which aired in 1974, was produced by Jackie Mills, a Hollywood producer, who also produced Bobby Sherman and the Brady Kids. The vocalist for these shows was Tom McKenzie, who also sang on some Groovie Goolie segments, and was a regular member of the popular singing group, the Doodletown Pipers.