Harpers Bizarre started life as The Tikis in Santa Cruz, California in 1964. They were signed to Autumn Records, a label started by Tom Donahue of Bay Area radio station KYA.
The Tikis cut two singles for Autumn, the second of which, Bye Bye Bye, was later included on the Harpers’ Secret Life album as part of a medley.
Donahue sold out to Warners, who had just brought in the young Lenny Waronker as a producer. Lenny built a little production team with the likes of Perry Botkin Jr, Van Dyke Parks, Leon Russell and Randy Newman and set off to make the first Harpers Bizarre album Feelin’ Groovy.
Feelin’ Groovy had their two biggest hits, 59th Street Bridge Song (although their take on the song is so appallingly vapid that it makes the original sound like a concrete giant chewing the moon) and Van Dyke Parks’ Come To The Sunshine.
Despite being given material by Randy Newman and Van Dyke Parks, Harpers Bizarre turned it all into a saccharine mush. They also padded their feeble albums out with versions of naff golden oldies like Chattanooga Choo Choo . . .
Between 1967 and 1970 Harpers Bizarre – comfortable in their gentle retro harmony world – released four albums and more than a dozen singles.
By the time of their 1969 album 4 (so-named as it was their fourth album), which included a massacre of The Beatles‘ Blackbird and an actual song called Soft Soundin’ Music, things were beyond explanation.
Vocals, drums, guitar
Vocals, guitar, bass
Guitar, bass, vocals
Drums, percussion, vocals