1969 Rhinoceros – Apricot Brandy
The Monkees were a group formed by a record label after a series of auditions, and perhaps it was inevitable that another label would try out the idea. Granted, the Monkees were recruited as actors, but trying out the same idea with musicians seemed like it should work.
Paul Allen Rothchild produced the first five albums by the Doors and Frazier Mohawk had helped Stephen Stills recruit the musicians that became Buffalo Springfield. The two decided to work together to assemble a new rock band for Elektra.
In 1967, the pair held an audition with a dozen musicians. They kept Doug Hastings on guitar and Alan Gerber on keyboards and vocals. The second audition turned up singer John Finley and guitarist Danny Weis. Danny had played on Iron Butterfly’s first album with Jerry Penrod and suggested adding him as the group’s bass player.
Keyboard player Michael Fonfara joined the group after finishing some work with The Electric Flag. Finally, former Mothers of Invention drummer Billy Mundi took over percussion in 1968, and the group recorded their first album.
The first single from the group included I Will Serenade You, a song written by John.
The record came out in 1968 but did not chart. Three Dog Night re-titled the song Let Me Serenade You and reached #17 on the Hot 100 with their cover version in 1973.
The group’s second single was an instrumental, Apricot Brandy. The song got airplay almost as soon as the album came out, but it would be 1969 before the record almost made it into the top forty on the Hot 100.
Two more albums and a few singles followed, but after sales were minimal, the group disbanded in 1971.
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