(Read all about Sugarloaf after the videos)
(Lead vocalist and keyboardist Jerry Corbetta died 9-16-16)
Sugarloaf was an American rock band in the 1970s. The band, which originated in Denver, Colorado, scored two Top 10 hits, with the singles "Green-Eyed Lady" and "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You".
Moonrakers and Chocolate Hair
Lead vocalist and keyboardist Jerry Corbetta, along with guitarist Bob Webber, played together in the Denver-based band Moonrakers. The Moonrakers had previously released 4 singles on Tower; three of the songs being collected in 2005 on the Colorado garage rock compilation album Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Volume 18 and another having been released earlier on the Pebbles Volume 10 LP. The Moonrakers had evolved from the early 1960s band The Classics (previously The Surfin' Classics, until dropping their surf music focus)—various members of all three incarnations would later appear on Sugarloaf songs.
In late 1968, Corbetta and Webber formed the band Chocolate Hair, including drummer Myron Pollock, who'd played previously with Corbetta, plus Webber's friend, bassist Bob Raymond.
Name Change and the Liberty Years
Corbetta and Webber were signed to Frank Slay at this time and began recording demos during 1969. Slay got Chocolate Hair signed to Liberty Records after Liberty liked the demos the band presented to them. Slay then ended up having them put the demos on the album since they sounded so good.
In September 1969 Myron Pollock decided to leave the group and the former drummer for The Surfin' Classics, Bob MacVittie, was recruited. Moonrakers singer Veeder Van Dorn was also brought in to sing on the record, making his most notable appearances on the tracks, "Things Gonna Change Some" and "West of Tomorrow", though he didn't end up becoming a permanent member. "Green-Eyed Lady", recorded at Original Sound Studios in Hollywood, California, which featured MacVittie on drums, was a last minute addition to the album, which was released in the very late spring of 1970.
Just before the album's release, however, the legal department at Liberty suggested the name Chocolate Hair might be taken as having racial overtones. The bandmembers agreed to change their moniker to Sugarloaf, the name of a mountain outside of Boulder, Colorado, where Bob Webber resided in an A-frame house.
The single "Green-Eyed Lady" went on to peak at No. 3 on the Billboard chart in October 1970, while their eponymous debut album got to No. 24.
Just after the first album's release, the group added member singer/guitarist/composer Bob Yeazel. Yeazel had previously played in Superband with Jimmy Greenspoon, who would go on to join Three Dog Night. Yeazel would feature heavily on Sugarloaf's second album, Spaceship Earth (January 1971), which would only manage to make No. 111, while the two singles taken from it, "Tongue-In-Cheek" and "Mother Nature's Wine", would peak at No. 55 and No. 88 respectively.
During 1970 and 1971, Sugarloaf had a heavy touring schedule that included appearances with The Who, Deep Purple, Eric Burdon & War and other popular acts of the time. On March 16, 1971 they performed at an after party for the 13th Annual Grammy Awards with Aretha Franklin, Three Dog Night and others.
The band became a sextet when they welcomed bassist Bobby Pickett (not the "Monster Mash" performer) on May 16, 1971 and six days later, they appeared on American Bandstand to play "Green Eyed Lady" and "Mother Nature's Wine".
In 1972 Sugarloaf played on the single "I.O.I.O.", a cover of a Bee Gees song recorded by TV actor Butch Patrick that was produced by Frank Slay.
Bob Yeazel and Bobby Pickett left Sugarloaf sometime in mid to late 1972. Pickett later went on to perform with Etta James, Gregg Allman, the rock group Detective and Cafe R&B. Yeazel stayed in music for a while playing in various bands, then took an eight-year break from performing before he once again began touring, writing songs and recording demos.
Resumption and Another Hit
Eventually Liberty decided to drop all their artists and Sugarloaf was in limbo in 1973 as Jerry Corbetta signed to Neil Bogart's Brut Records label, which Bogart had created and distributed, via his Buddah Records imprint, for the Brut Fabergé company.
The next album, I Got a Song , released in late 1973, was started as a Corbetta solo record but ended up becoming Sugarloaf's third album when Webber and Raymond rejoined Corbetta, with drummer Larry Ferris, to play on the album and once again began making live appearances. This iteration of Sugarloaf played a spot on The Midnight Special that aired on April 19, 1974.
But after Brut folded, the group's future was once again in question as Corbetta and Frank Slay bought the album back from Bogart and went to a friend's recording studio in Denver in 1974 to record a new song, "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You", with session players Paul Humphries (drums), Max Bennett (bass), Ray Payne (guitar) and a group called the Flying Saucers (Jason Hickman, Mikkel Saks and David Queen) on harmony vocals. This song was notable because it contained a practical joke at the expense of CBS Records, which had just turned them down for a recording contract. The song includes the sound of a touch-tone telephone number being dialed near the beginning and ending of the song. Those numbers were an unlisted phone number at CBS Records in Manhattan ("area code 212" stated in the song) – coincidentally a public number at the White House as well (different area code). In addition, the recording includes snippets of the guitar riff of The Beatles' "I Feel Fine," Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" and a line of dialogue from disc jockey Ken Griffin imitating Wolfman Jack (who would later perform the song live with the group on their Midnight Special appearance) stating the call sign of a radio station ("Stereo 92" in the nationwide release); numerous tracks of this line were cut to match local markets. The song was written by Corbetta along with Ray Payne's Sweet Pain bandmates J.C. Phillips and David Riordan. "Don't Call Us..." was released in November 1974 on Slay's Claridge Records label and after it took off and peaked at No. 9 in April 1975, the I Got a Song album was quickly re-released under the new title of Don't Call Us, We'll Call You with the hit single added in place of another track, "Easy Evil". But the album stalled out at US No. 152 on the Billboard Top 200.
Also in 1974, Corbetta played with the group Disco-Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes on their hit "Get Dancin'", that was produced by Bob Crewe, Corbetta's new partner, and contributed to other projects, including the band Chinook.
Another single not on the LP, "Stars in My Eyes", peaked at No. 87 in June 1975 and Sugarloaf realigned with Corbetta, Webber, Raymond and original Chocolate Hair/first album drummer Myron Pollock and toured once again in 1975 behind the success of "Don't Call Us..". A live recording of the band was made at Ebbets Field (a small club, not the former Brooklyn ball park) in Denver in July 1975 that was eventually released in 2006 as the CD Alive in America.
"I Got a Song", the title track of their 1973 album, was released as a single in October 1975 but only "bubbled under" on Billboard at No. 110. A Corbetta solo single, "You Set My Dreams to Music", recorded around this time, ended up in a 1977 film The Legend of Frank Woods and Sugarloaf's final single, "Satisfaction Guaranteed", was released in 1976 but failed to chart. All singles from "Don't Call Us.." on appeared on the Claridge label.
Break Up and Later Years
By the end of '75, Webber and Raymond were gone from the group and Corbetta continued to tour as Jerry Corbetta and Sugarloaf with drummer Myron Pollock, adding Ray Payne on guitar and Rusty Buchanan (later with Player) on bass until 1978 when he decided to retire the Sugarloaf name and pursue a solo career. He was also a member of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons from 1980 to 1984.
On June 12, 1985 there was a one/off Sugarloaf reunion at the Colorado Cream Festival that included Corbetta, Myron Pollock, Bob Yeazel and new players Larry Wilkins (guitar) and Bryan Grassmeyer (bass).
During 1989 to 1991, Corbetta and Wilkins attempted to get Sugarloaf up and running again with the help of Bob Crewe, but without success.
In 1990 Corbetta was part of a touring rock & roll nostalgia show, 30 Years of Rock and Roll. This led to him teaming with two other rock vets on that bill, guitarist/singer Mike Pinera (ex-Blues Image and Iron Butterfly) and bassist Dennis Noda (ex-Cannibal & the Headhunters) to form another all stars touring act, The Classic Rock All-Stars in 1992, with former Rare Earth singer/drummer Peter Rivera and various others, like Micky Dolenz and Spencer Davis, who drifted in and out over the years.
According to Corbetta, a few times during the 1990s and in 2005, The Classic Rock All-Stars did a few shows as Sugarloaf with a different drummer in place of Rivera. Corbetta was forced to retire from performing in 2009 after contracting Pick's disease, a progressive neurological problem similar to Alzheimer's disease.
After a seven-year battle with the disease, Corbetta died in Denver on September 16, 2016, at the age of 68.