1971 The Grass Roots – Temptation Eyes
Lou Adler was a songwriter and producer who worked with Herb Alpert to co-manage Jan and Dean in the late fifties. They also co-wrote Wonderful World with Sam Cooke.
In 1964, he started Dunhill Records. He produced records for the Mamas and The Papas.
He hired P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri to write and produce records for his new label. Their first big success came when they wrote Eve Of Destruction, which they produced with Lou. The single topped the charts for Barry McGuire.
Sloan and Barri recorded some demos with a familiar list of musicians: Sloan sang the lead vocals and played guitar and Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborn and Bones Howe provided instrumental backups. One of the demos was for the song Where Were You When I Needed You. The demo was pressed for distribution to radio stations in the San Francisco area and credited on the label to a fictional band, The Grass Roots. Reaction to the demo was sufficient to convince the label to field an actual band.
The Bedouins had won a battle of the Bands contest in San Mateo, and the band members were recruited, including Willie Fulton as the lead vocalist. The group’s released a cover of the Bob Dylan song Mr. Jones (Ballad of a Thin Man) as their first single, but it failed to chart. A new version of Where Were You When I Needed You that used Willie’s vocals became their second release. The Grass Roots became the house band at a club in Hollywood. They also demanded that they be allowed to record some of their own blues-related songs for their album, but Dunhill Records declined that opportunity. And fired them.
The single peaked at #28 on the Hot 100 in 1966.
Dunhill tried to recruit the Robbs, a band from Wisconsin, but the band turned them down. The next band they offered to hire was a Los Angeles band, the 13th Floor. The members of the band were Creed Bratton on vocals and guitar), Rick Coonce on drums, Warren Entner on vocals, guitar, and keyboards, and Kenny Fukomoto on vocals and bass. Kenny was drafted, and eventually Rob Grill took his place. They gave the new band the choice of a new name or the existing name of the Grass Roots, which became their pick.
The band covered a song by the British band the Rokes, Lets Live For Today, and their single popped into the top ten on the Hot 100 in 1967.
Thanks to the label’s successes, Lou was able to sell his label to ABC Records. He then started another label, Ode Records. He signed Carole King to the label and produced four of her albums. Sloan left the label to pursue a solo career, but the band continued working with Barri.
The Grass Roots released seven more top forty singles in the next three years. Most of the records were written by various Dunhill Records’ staff members and used the Wrecking Crew for musical backup. Creed became disenchanted with not getting to write their music, and he left the group in 1969 and Terry Furlong joined the band. Terry played on some of the group’s recordings, but wasn’t interested in touring, so Brian Naughton joined the group as well.
In late 1971, the group recorded a song written by Harvey Price and Daniel Walsh that stayed on the charts longer than any of their other records. That single, Temptation Eyes, spent 18 weeks on the charts but peaked at only #15 on the Hot 100.
The next year the band reached the top ten once more with Sooner Or Later and #16 with Two Divided By Love. Two more singles peaked in the thirties, after which they never found their way onto the top forty again.
Rob and Warren recruited three new members when the rest of the group left in 1972, and Warren left the group in 1974. Rob continued leading a touring group of the Grass Roots at oldies shows and the band even recorded a few live albums in 2000 and 2008. Rob died after a stroke in 2011.
Current members of the band have been members since as early as 1984.
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