Beginning life as a dope-oriented comedy and pathos New Jersey bar band called Dr Hook & The Medicine Show, their first three albums, released on CBS, were meagre sellers, with their only major UK hit during that time being Sylvia’s Mother (1972).
The Cover Of the Rolling Stone (1973) was a racy, rollicking send-up of rock star excess which served up every cliche in the book by celebrating pill-popping, teenage blue-eyed groupies, limos and an Indian Guru, but had one lament – despite increasing success, the group depicted in the song just couldn’t get their smiling faces on the cover of Rolling Stone.
The song became a Top 10 hit for Dr Hook and gave the then-five-year-old music newspaper plenty of free publicity. The magazine repaid the compliment on 29 March 1973 when they put Dr Hook on the cover, albeit in caricature form (courtesy of political caricaturist Gerry Gersten).
The song (like Sylvia’s Mother) was written by Shel Silverstein, a songwriter/humorist/Playboy cartoonist who also penned A Boy Named Sue for Johnny Cash.
By 1974, the group’s nonchalance about business matters led to bankruptcy.
Although the band staged a successful comeback in 1976 with a Top 10 remake of Sam Cooke’s Only Sixteen and followed it with a number of hit singles, including A Little Bit More (1976), Walk Right In (1977), Sharing the Night Together (1978), When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman (1979), Better Love Next Time (1979) and Sexy Eyes (1980).
Sawyer finally left in 1983 and the band called it a day in 1985.
Both Locorriere and Sawyer have toured occasionally since as ‘Dr Hook Starring Dennis Locorriere’ and ‘Dr Hook featuring Ray Sawyer’ respectively. The two have remained on good terms.