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Author Topic: The Pickle Brothers  (Read 9754 times)
Boiled Egg
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« on: August 24, 2007, 03:53:14 AM »

anyone got the skinny on The Pickle Brothers' two tunes, Ode To Betty Joe and It's Time?  heard them recently on a you-know-what, and a cursory sweep of the net doesn't reveal much, except that TPBs were a comedy act that opened for the BBs.  i'd like to know about It's Time in particular - who wrote it, etc., and what it's doing on a BB you-know-what.
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2007, 02:42:15 PM »

The Pickle Brothers were originally called The Uncalled For Three and began opening for the BBs in 1966 and continued to appear with them off and on till 1969. The group was very popular for awhile and appeared on Ed Sullivan and other shows. In the Summer of 1967 they were signed by Brother Records and a session was produced by Mike for them (probably in Sept 67).  I assume that as problems mounted for the BBs in 1967-68 they became too consumed with their own matters to be bothered with The Pickle Brothers,
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2007, 11:20:31 AM »

Thanks for the info.  Unlike most, I really enjoy those two Pickle Brothers songs.  I'm sure I'll get crucified for saying this, but "It's Time" sounds a bit like the old VU to these ears.  3D
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2007, 03:41:41 PM »

thanks, ian.

one thing i'm dead keen to know is (since i've only heard the session tapes) the answer to this embarrassingly obvious question: were these tunes ever released?

ps. 'the uncalled for three' is a sublime name.
pps. mike love produced the session?  am i high?
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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2014, 07:38:52 AM »

I've been looking for any photographs (or video) of the trio online but couldn't come up with anything. Does anyone have any material?




P.S. Sorry for bumping such an old thread, but I figured it would be dumb to open a new one when there could be a 'compact' thread to collect questions about musical cucumbers.
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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2014, 08:42:18 AM »

Oh wow, I wondered about these songs. I thought they might have been early Redwood recordings and they were just being silly. But cool to here what those songs really were.
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"Over the years, I've been accused of not supporting our new music from this era (67-73) and just wanting to play our hits. That's complete b.s......I was also, as the front man, the one promoting these songs onstage and have the scars to show for it."
Mike Love autobiography (pg 242-243)
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« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2014, 01:43:13 PM »

thanks, ian.

one thing i'm dead keen to know is (since i've only heard the session tapes) the answer to this embarrassingly obvious question: were these tunes ever released?

ps. 'the uncalled for three' is a sublime name.
pps. mike love produced the session?  am i high?

Never officially released.

And have a read of Stephen W. Desper's great posts about the Manson sessions. The BBs would bring in bands for Desper to record a demo for Brother Records. And i imagine a similar thing happened here. So I'd guess Mike didn't sit behind the board, pushing the faders and ordering the boys to syncopate, rather that he'd arranged their studio time with SWD.
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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2014, 08:55:20 AM »

It was yet another part of the plans for Brother Records as it was being set up, to allow band members to bring in and work with outside artists with an eye toward releasing those records under the Brother name. Basically the template that Apple records would follow a year later, with better initial results in that Apple actually released and had hits with several of their outside artists like Mary Hopkin, The Iveys/Badfinger, Jackie Lomax, James Taylor, etc.

This was mentioned more in depth this past week in another thread too. Brother was put on hold - but groups like this and Redwood show that the plan was at least actively in motion to sign and develop outside artists.

Now the big question is this:

Was there an infamous Pickle Brothers studio session we haven't heard about, where Brian and Dennis crashed a session Mike was working with them, pulled Mike aside, and reduced him to tears after hectoring him about working with outsiders when a new Beach Boys album needed to be worked on post-haste? Was there a report of a Pickle Brother watching helplessly from the control room as Dennis wagged a finger at Mike and seemed to be saying "these songs belong with US, who are these outsiders, Mike?"

Then Mike came back in to break the news, head hanging low with a look of defeat in both his eyes and in his stance, and said in a soft voice trembling with emotion, "My brothers Pickle, I can't work with you anymore. The guys won't let me do it. I'm leaving the producer's chair and going back to the tambourine, that's what they want..." .

 LOL
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« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2014, 09:08:55 AM »

It would be interesting to know what real and imagined circumstances put a stop to the other's plans and projects for the record label. I'm still guessing it was the label's inability to operate as a label for even the BBs themselves at the time. Whatever that was.
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« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2014, 09:15:15 AM »

I'm thinking of merging this with the other thread somehow, it's getting into the same questions and answers we had happening last week about Brother's "hiatus" after late '67.
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« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2014, 09:26:16 AM »

Or not.

Borrowing from that other discussion, and taking a cue from what Nick Grillo has said, 1968 into 1969 was all but disastrous for the Beach Boys and for Brother in general, and the band was bordering on bankruptcy at the same time they were getting hammered by their label Capitol and were not selling tickets or records as they had when they made all these plans.

The Maharishi tour was a financial disaster and an embarrassment that cost at least half-a-million of the band's money with no return on the investment. Mike was also looking for money to finance a Maharishi film, and who knows what else may have been actually spent after spending that time in India. Brian was said to be out of commission entirely at some points in 1968. Carl's draft and legal troubles were still a factor. Dennis was losing tens of thousands of his money to Manson and the girls who were leeching off of him and taking his stuff. There was a professional studio that needed to be paid for after outfitting it with high-end professional equipment and construction.

Not much left in the tank to develop new or unknown artists. Maybe in light of all this, having it revert to the Capitol label with their bigger distribution and marketing resources rather than go all-out Brother Records was the better financial move at that time. Who knows.
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"There was no up front fees, period. swedishfrog  and I paid for the domain name. As of June 19, 2016 at 4:32pm edt, that is all I was charged for." - Dr. Beach Boy
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« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2014, 09:45:24 AM »

Or not.



Not much left in the tank to develop new or unknown artists. Maybe in light of all this, having it revert to the Capitol label with their bigger distribution and marketing resources rather than go all-out Brother Records was the better financial move at that time. Who knows.

So, other than Brian and Mike( the two that could shed the most light here) who is still around that could possibly share some knowledge into the situation?
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« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2014, 10:03:29 AM »

Or not.



Not much left in the tank to develop new or unknown artists. Maybe in light of all this, having it revert to the Capitol label with their bigger distribution and marketing resources rather than go all-out Brother Records was the better financial move at that time. Who knows.

So, other than Brian and Mike( the two that could shed the most light here) who is still around that could possibly share some knowledge into the situation?

Far and away the main guy would be Nick Grillo, as he was the go-to guy in nearly all of these financial and legal matters acting as manager, with even more firsthand involvement than Brian or Mike. According to what Cam said, when he was contacted some time ago Grillo referred to his commentary in the "Heroes And Villains" book as the way it all went down.
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"There was no up front fees, period. swedishfrog  and I paid for the domain name. As of June 19, 2016 at 4:32pm edt, that is all I was charged for." - Dr. Beach Boy
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« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2014, 10:02:55 PM »

1968 would already be after Redwood and Pickle Bros and the BBs'  inability to operate as a label for even their own records.

Didn't the Maharishi tour have a promoter? I tried to interview him a long time ago and he was willing but wanted to be paid which I wasn't willing to do. His name is in Leafs book. If he was the promoter wouldn't the Boys have gotten paid and the promoter stood the losses?

I wonder if it wasn't the MLK canceled tour they took a hit on?
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« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2014, 10:54:21 PM »

1968 would already be after Redwood and Pickle Bros and the BBs'  inability to operate as a label for even their own records.

Didn't the Maharishi tour have a promoter? I tried to interview him a long time ago and he was willing but wanted to be paid which I wasn't willing to do. His name is in Leafs book. If he was the promoter wouldn't the Boys have gotten paid and the promoter stood the losses?

I wonder if it wasn't the MLK canceled tour they took a hit on?

Pages 196-197-198 here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=spwdCTYbJP4C&q=grillo#v=snippet&q=grillo&f=false

The April 1968 tour was a bust - due to MLK's assassination and fans not willing (or able under the laws put into place in certain areas the band was booked) to go to the venues to see it. So that got canceled. The BB's worked that tour after getting a loan-advance to finance it. That was disaster #1. Grillo's words" "a fucking nightmare".

The May 1968 Maharishi tour was according to Grillo supposed to be the "remedy" for the disaster of the April tour being canceled. Grillo called it "another disaster". Al Jardine had the famous quote about the only people who would make money from it being the florists. The Maharishi was laughing all the time, according to Dick Duryea he always got his money. Laughing all the way to the bank, perhaps? It says Mike was told no one would care about the Maharishi, they turned out to be right.

And it says the tour cost half a million. Add that to the loss of the money they were loaned by Joe Lipsher to self-promote the April tour which got canceled, those two months' touring losses alone equaled a heaping pile of money.

The Maharishi got his fresh flowers, fresh fruit, catered macrobiotic meals or whatever the heck else he was demanding on the road, and got to fly in a private chartered jet. No wonder he was giggling all the time.  Smiley

 
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« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2014, 11:03:43 AM »

Picking up this topic because it seemed there was interest in the Pickle Brothers from the Redwood discussion, and also some questions about them in this thread. I'll add to the info that has already been posted.

The Pickle Brothers, formerly the Uncalled-For Three (Michael, Ron, and Peter), had met in college and formed a comedy act. One of them was the nephew of a legendary Hollywood figure named Abe Lastfogel, who had run the William Morris Agency. Keep that in mind for later. Another "Brother" was from Philly, and went on to join the comedy troupe the Ace Trucking Company in the 70's. One of the Brothers' actual brother was the subject of a 1970's Martin Scorcese documentary called "American Boy: A Profile Of Steven", and had worked on the touring crew for Neil Diamond among other interactions he had with various entertainers, as outlined in that film.

According to one source, The Uncalled-for Three were playing the coffeehouse and comedy circuits in New York City, specifically at venues like the Bitter End in Greenwich Village and the Improvisation on W. 44th Street. A *very* interesting side note which needs further confirmation is that the trio was once called "The Uncalled-for Five", before two of the members left the group, and one of those who had left was actress Madeleine Kahn! So the "Three", if that is true, was originally "Five" at one point in the 60's.

Back to the Pickle Brothers history: Assuming the saying "it's not what you know, it's who you know" is true in Hollywood, the Brothers had one of the most influential power brokers as a member's uncle. Whether or not some pull or some influence was exerted to get certain gigs and appearances is speculation.

But consider The Beach Boys had been represented by William Morris Agency from early in their career, after Morris Agency rep Marshall Berle (nephew of Milton Berle) had approached  Murry and Audree at an event, and soon signed on to represent them through the agency. Another Morris agent named Ira Okun also took the Beach Boys as clients, and got them better pay and better bookings as a result.

Recall that several William Morris Agency employees have played significant roles in the BB's history, too.

The confusion I found is in some of the timeline - One source suggested they were The Uncalled-For Three until they got offered to shoot a pilot for a TV show to capitalize on The Monkees, which would be written by Monkees screenwriting team Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso. The show was going to feature the trio reenacting (if not replicating verbatim) old Marx Brothers skits and routines, and again a source suggested the trio's name "The Pickle Brothers" was a direct reference to the Marx Brothers, and was done for that TV pilot project.

The Pickle Brothers pilot was rejected, and nothing developed beyond that stage.

The trio did appear on Ed Sullivan's show, specifically one episode in May 1967. It was described as a "manic" comedy routine, and the episode itself is available for licensing but has not been released publicly as other Sullivan archives have been.

Then enter the Beach Boys, specifically Mike Love.

The Pickle Brothers were indeed signed by Mike to be Brother Records artists, and Mike produced two studio recordings for them. For those who have not heard them, the titles were "Ode To Betty Jo" and "It's Time", which had been slated earlier in the session as "Tired Of Livin". Bruce Johnston plays keyboards on the latter, and Mike was in the producer's role, in the control room offering comments and directions on the talkback, for the session. "Ode To Betty Jo" is a musical send-up of the then-current August 1967 Bobbie Gentry single "Ode To Billie Joe", and "It's Time - Tired Of Livin"...hard to describe other than an attempt at musical comedy, incorporating "Old Man River", a time-check announcement, and the usual band-vocal sounds and what sounds like Mike himself on bass vocals. At various points Mike from the control room calls out to Bruce, Peter, and Ron during the sessions.

Some selected lyrics from those tracks:
"I get high on banana pie, Mom they call me mellow yellow
Well I hate everything mercenary, I hate Peter, Paul, and Mary
I hate my mom and I hate my dad, and they hate me 'cause I smell so bad
And I hate everything that comes along, I even hate this stupid song."

From "Betty Jo":
"She was watchin' TV heard some news 'bout Flatbush Ridge,
Today Betty Jo Wholesome (?) jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge.
My old man told mama as he passed around the frozen peas,
Betty Jo was a jerk, pass the frozen TV dinners please"


The Pickle Brothers did indeed play on concert tours with the Beach Boys, including the "Led In Hawaii" shows, August '67 (sharing the bill with Bobbie Gentry), and in the fall '67 tour with the Buffalo Springfield, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and Philly's Soul Survivors. More specifics can be found in BB's books, obviously.

According to sources, audience members, and band members from these tours, the Pickle Brothers either opened the shows as a warm-up, as a full-on opening act for the bands, or what seems most likely is they would come on stage in between the bands' performances to fill time as the equipment was being changed and set up.

There was that direct connection to the Beach Boys which may have led Mike to sign them to Brother and want to produce songs for them to release on the new label. There was also the William Morris Agency connection, again the one member of the trio's uncle was a major force in Hollywood, had the Beach Boys on the William Morris Agency's client list...pure speculation if that had anything or nothing to do with them getting the recording sessions and signing through Mike and the touring position with the BB's.

So what exactly was their act? Apart from the two songs recorded for Brother, there is little or nothing I've found available for film, audio, or video of them in live performance. The Sullivan show again does exist, but it's in the vaults and not available for public viewing. There was a report of them appearing on The Tonight Show, when that was still based in NYC and ran 90 minutes each night, but as of yet I've found no record of them appearing on a specific date, and as the bulk of Carson's 60's NYC show tapes are gone forever, it may be impossible to track down. Perhaps another collector here could fill in any appearances they may have made, if they did other TV shows in 67-68 beyond Sullivan and Tonight.

Consider again I have seen the term "manic" in several descriptions of their stage act, and also reports of the type of jokes and skits they would perform. One came from an audience member who reported some of their jokes when describing their routine in a paper he wrote about comedy from that time:

"What is yellow and goes 'crick, crick'? A ballpoint banana."

A skit where one member playing Eve talks to another member playing a snake, and when offered an apple "Eve" tells the snake "Look, I don't know you from Adam."

A skit where a member wearing a cape plays "Count Dracula" and says his job is "a mouth and throat specialist", and among the bits is one where Dracula is talking to a man, the man cuts his finger, Dracula sucks the man's finger, and says "mmmmm, 1941. Not a bad year"

A skit only listed as the "Ratman skit" which could have been a parody of Batman or something entirely different, also an impression of a mobster/gangster character....

Add to that reports of members banging each other over the head, doing manic physical comedy, playing up old Three Stooges and Marx Brothers routines...having not seen them, I think you get the general idea of their act.

Again according to several sources, the trio parted ways for good sometime in 1968.

So onto the opinion section. What got them into the position of recording sessions for the new Brother label? Was the thought that the sessions would produce a single which would sell and make the charts for Brother? What did they do on stage on these Beach Boys shows and tours? What did they do on TV appearances, what did the failed Pickle Brothers TV pilot look like?

Just on the surface, and with very little to go on, the type of comedy they were going for can at least be suggested through the examples and reports (and those recordings). In my opinion only, based on that, the comedy just wasn't there, it just didn't click or seem like laugh-out-loud material, whether it was the musical comedy and the song parodies, the physical Marx/Stooges routines, or the one-liners and skits as reported. But anyway.

It would be great if there are fans who actually saw the Pickle Brothers perform during any of these Beach Boys shows where they were on the bill, specifically 1967-68 tour dates. What was it all about? What did they do? Were they funny? Etc.
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« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2014, 11:54:37 AM »

Michael Mislove from The Pickle Brothers at far left, in the purple shirt and vest, in this vintage clip from the Ace Trucking Company:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSWiIzf8sKI
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« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2014, 12:35:07 PM »

Grillo was misremembering about the first tour of 1968. It wasn't a bust, the band played all but a handful of the scheduled dates (check it out on 10452). It was the Maharishi tour that was a complete disaster.
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« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2014, 01:11:33 PM »

Gee....  

From TV.com here's the Pickle Brothers list of appearances:  

Playboy After Dark
 Themselves
S 1: Ep 7 Bob Newhart; Bill Cosby; O.C. Smith; Pickle Brothers
9/9/68


The Joey Bishop Show
 Themselves
S 3: Ep 5 September 6, 1968
9/6/68


The Mike Douglas Show
 Themselves
S 7: Ep 133 March 6, 1968
3/6/68


The Ed Sullivan Show
 Themselves
S 20: Ep 20 January 21, 1968: Johnny Mathis, Melvyn Douglas, Pert Kelton, John Byner
1/21/68

 S 19: Ep 36 May 28, 1967: The Temptations, Robert Goulet, Jane Morgan, Pickle Brothers
5/28/67    ( They performed a Dracula sketch)


The Merv Griffin Show
 Themselves
S 5: Ep 88 January 3, 1968
1/3/68

From BFI Film Forever (  http://explore.bfi.org.uk/4ce2b8192ad09 ) here's the character list for the pilot for their show(1967 Four Star Television production, Directed by William Friedkin with music by Quuincy Jones):  


Baxter Pickle   Ron Prince
Buddy Pickle   Michael Mislove
Bobo Pickle   Peter Lee
Miss Boom Boom  Maureen Arthur
Mrs DeWitt  Carol Veazie
Tweed   George Neise
Falstaff   Louis Quinn
the princess   Liliane Montevecchi

Here's a small review from Billboard, 1965, when the Uncalled For 3 opened a show for Gale Garnett:  http://tinyurl.com/kmq5gr6

Here's a listing for two bits the Uncalled For 3 performed with ( Host) John Davidson on an August 1966 Kraft Summer Music Hall program:  
  http://www.historicfilms.com/tapes/20255    ( not available for viewing online)  not sure if it's August 15th or 22nd as they were on both.  
If you sign up for a PRO account at this site, you can download 60 minutes of low-res viewings for $100

So, Guitarfool, Maybe you should contact Micheal Mislove ( he's on Facebook) since you're bound to have good rapport, since he was born in Philadelphia

Ron Prince is most likely still living in Texas, where I found and spoke to him some years ago (I'm a lousy interviewer and don't remember a thing we talked about; tho perhaps Ian saved the emails where I think I told him about it)   Maybe you want to track him and talk?  and who wants to find Peter Lee?

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« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2014, 01:28:15 PM »

The Paley Center has a copy of the pilot in their collection available for screening, RUNNING TIME: 0:21:26.
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« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2014, 03:16:31 PM »

Grillo was misremembering about the first tour of 1968. It wasn't a bust, the band played all but a handful of the scheduled dates (check it out on 10452). It was the Maharishi tour that was a complete disaster.

The Maharishi tour was a complete disaster for sure, as mentioned. But how was the attendance and how were the numbers at the shows played overall in April 1968, on the tour before Maharishi in May? Several sources have them listed as getting a poor turnout, is that incorrect? Are they taking too much liberty by citing the shows canceled in the immediate week or so after the assassination to suggest the whole tour was poorly attended?
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« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2014, 03:29:05 PM »


So, Guitarfool, Maybe you should contact Micheal Mislove ( he's on Facebook) since you're bound to have good rapport, since he was born in Philadelphia

Ron Prince is most likely still living in Texas, where I found and spoke to him some years ago (I'm a lousy interviewer and don't remember a thing we talked about; tho perhaps Ian saved the emails where I think I told him about it)   Maybe you want to track him and talk?  and who wants to find Peter Lee?

I'm not really the one to ask to track anyone down from the Pickle Brothers at this point, even Michael from Philly! If any of the info posted here sparks an interest for anyone else to do so, I say go for it! Get some good info, possibly, for anyone interested or so inclined to track someone down.   Smiley

Have you seen any of the TV.com listings on video? When I searched for anything available, I came up empty despite all of the listings you posted, I was more curious to see or hear an actual clip of them in performance. So there's a copy of the pilot at the Paley Center, that's cool. Anyone seen it?

That's the issue I encountered as well, despite all of the listings there isn't much publicly available to view, short of licensing a clip through a rights agency or vault, paying a hundred bucks to watch an hour-long video with John Davidson, or booking a trip to visit the Paley Center to watch the pilot. There isn't much available "on demand" to see or hear otherwise, unless there are bootlegs of those TV episodes. Bishop's ABC archives are lost like Carson's, for the most part. Douglas and Griffin license available episodes, but there are gaps in their 60's archives due to similar lost reels.
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« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2014, 03:53:52 PM »

And bgas, I wanted to thank you for posting the broadcast dates and TV show info. I mentioned if anyone might be able to fill in the info on other TV or film appearances and you delivered the goods! Very cool. If those emails ever turn up or if you find any notes from your conversation that you mentioned, it would be cool to read, for sure.

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"Every single person who criticized Brian for having She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Sebu and Nate Ruess guesting on his solo album can now officially go heartily f*** themselves." - Wirestone

"I will never change with what I think happened in here and you will never convince me otherwise." - Dr. Beach Boy.
"There was no up front fees, period. swedishfrog  and I paid for the domain name. As of June 19, 2016 at 4:32pm edt, that is all I was charged for." - Dr. Beach Boy
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« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2014, 04:01:42 PM »

Grillo was misremembering about the first tour of 1968. It wasn't a bust, the band played all but a handful of the scheduled dates (check it out on 10452). It was the Maharishi tour that was a complete disaster.

The Maharishi tour was a complete disaster for sure, as mentioned. But how was the attendance and how were the numbers at the shows played overall in April 1968, on the tour before Maharishi in May? Several sources have them listed as getting a poor turnout, is that incorrect? Are they taking too much liberty by citing the shows canceled in the immediate week or so after the assassination to suggest the whole tour was poorly attended?

  If anyone would have more info on attendance, I'd think it would have to be Ian( chime in here, please! ) . I notice that in his and Jon's book he quotes attendance for 4 shows and each was about 5000; whether that's good, or bad, I don't really know
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« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2014, 05:16:06 PM »

Picking up this topic because it seemed there was interest in the Pickle Brothers from the Redwood discussion, and also some questions about them in this thread. I'll add to the info that has already been posted.

The Pickle Brothers, formerly the Uncalled-For Three (Michael, Ron, and Peter), had met in college and formed a comedy act. One of them was the nephew of a legendary Hollywood figure named Abe Lastfogel, who had run the William Morris Agency. Keep that in mind for later. Another "Brother" was from Philly, and went on to join the comedy troupe the Ace Trucking Company in the 70's. One of the Brothers' actual brother was the subject of a 1970's Martin Scorcese documentary called "American Boy: A Profile Of Steven", and had worked on the touring crew for Neil Diamond among other interactions he had with various entertainers, as outlined in that film.

According to one source, The Uncalled-for Three were playing the coffeehouse and comedy circuits in New York City, specifically at venues like the Bitter End in Greenwich Village and the Improvisation on W. 44th Street. A *very* interesting side note which needs further confirmation is that the trio was once called "The Uncalled-for Five", before two of the members left the group, and one of those who had left was actress Madeleine Kahn! So the "Three", if that is true, was originally "Five" at one point in the 60's.

Back to the Pickle Brothers history: Assuming the saying "it's not what you know, it's who you know" is true in Hollywood, the Brothers had one of the most influential power brokers as a member's uncle. Whether or not some pull or some influence was exerted to get certain gigs and appearances is speculation.

But consider The Beach Boys had been represented by William Morris Agency from early in their career, after Morris Agency rep Marshall Berle (nephew of Milton Berle) had approached  Murry and Audree at an event, and soon signed on to represent them through the agency. Another Morris agent named Ira Okun also took the Beach Boys as clients, and got them better pay and better bookings as a result.

Recall that several William Morris Agency employees have played significant roles in the BB's history, too.

The confusion I found is in some of the timeline - One source suggested they were The Uncalled-For Three until they got offered to shoot a pilot for a TV show to capitalize on The Monkees, which would be written by Monkees screenwriting team Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso. The show was going to feature the trio reenacting (if not replicating verbatim) old Marx Brothers skits and routines, and again a source suggested the trio's name "The Pickle Brothers" was a direct reference to the Marx Brothers, and was done for that TV pilot project.

The Pickle Brothers pilot was rejected, and nothing developed beyond that stage.

The trio did appear on Ed Sullivan's show, specifically one episode in May 1967. It was described as a "manic" comedy routine, and the episode itself is available for licensing but has not been released publicly as other Sullivan archives have been.

Then enter the Beach Boys, specifically Mike Love.

The Pickle Brothers were indeed signed by Mike to be Brother Records artists, and Mike produced two studio recordings for them. For those who have not heard them, the titles were "Ode To Betty Jo" and "It's Time", which had been slated earlier in the session as "Tired Of Livin". Bruce Johnston plays keyboards on the latter, and Mike was in the producer's role, in the control room offering comments and directions on the talkback, for the session. "Ode To Betty Jo" is a musical send-up of the then-current August 1967 Bobbie Gentry single "Ode To Billie Joe", and "It's Time - Tired Of Livin"...hard to describe other than an attempt at musical comedy, incorporating "Old Man River", a time-check announcement, and the usual band-vocal sounds and what sounds like Mike himself on bass vocals. At various points Mike from the control room calls out to Bruce, Peter, and Ron during the sessions.

Some selected lyrics from those tracks:
"I get high on banana pie, Mom they call me mellow yellow
Well I hate everything mercenary, I hate Peter, Paul, and Mary
I hate my mom and I hate my dad, and they hate me 'cause I smell so bad
And I hate everything that comes along, I even hate this stupid song."

From "Betty Jo":
"She was watchin' TV heard some news 'bout Flatbush Ridge,
Today Betty Jo Wholesome (?) jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge.
My old man told mama as he passed around the frozen peas,
Betty Jo was a jerk, pass the frozen TV dinners please"


The Pickle Brothers did indeed play on concert tours with the Beach Boys, including the "Led In Hawaii" shows, August '67 (sharing the bill with Bobbie Gentry), and in the fall '67 tour with the Buffalo Springfield, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and Philly's Soul Survivors. More specifics can be found in BB's books, obviously.

According to sources, audience members, and band members from these tours, the Pickle Brothers either opened the shows as a warm-up, as a full-on opening act for the bands, or what seems most likely is they would come on stage in between the bands' performances to fill time as the equipment was being changed and set up.

There was that direct connection to the Beach Boys which may have led Mike to sign them to Brother and want to produce songs for them to release on the new label. There was also the William Morris Agency connection, again the one member of the trio's uncle was a major force in Hollywood, had the Beach Boys on the William Morris Agency's client list...pure speculation if that had anything or nothing to do with them getting the recording sessions and signing through Mike and the touring position with the BB's.

So what exactly was their act? Apart from the two songs recorded for Brother, there is little or nothing I've found available for film, audio, or video of them in live performance. The Sullivan show again does exist, but it's in the vaults and not available for public viewing. There was a report of them appearing on The Tonight Show, when that was still based in NYC and ran 90 minutes each night, but as of yet I've found no record of them appearing on a specific date, and as the bulk of Carson's 60's NYC show tapes are gone forever, it may be impossible to track down. Perhaps another collector here could fill in any appearances they may have made, if they did other TV shows in 67-68 beyond Sullivan and Tonight.

Consider again I have seen the term "manic" in several descriptions of their stage act, and also reports of the type of jokes and skits they would perform. One came from an audience member who reported some of their jokes when describing their routine in a paper he wrote about comedy from that time:

"What is yellow and goes 'crick, crick'? A ballpoint banana."

A skit where one member playing Eve talks to another member playing a snake, and when offered an apple "Eve" tells the snake "Look, I don't know you from Adam."

A skit where a member wearing a cape plays "Count Dracula" and says his job is "a mouth and throat specialist", and among the bits is one where Dracula is talking to a man, the man cuts his finger, Dracula sucks the man's finger, and says "mmmmm, 1941. Not a bad year"

A skit only listed as the "Ratman skit" which could have been a parody of Batman or something entirely different, also an impression of a mobster/gangster character....

Add to that reports of members banging each other over the head, doing manic physical comedy, playing up old Three Stooges and Marx Brothers routines...having not seen them, I think you get the general idea of their act.

Again according to several sources, the trio parted ways for good sometime in 1968.

So onto the opinion section. What got them into the position of recording sessions for the new Brother label? Was the thought that the sessions would produce a single which would sell and make the charts for Brother? What did they do on stage on these Beach Boys shows and tours? What did they do on TV appearances, what did the failed Pickle Brothers TV pilot look like?

Just on the surface, and with very little to go on, the type of comedy they were going for can at least be suggested through the examples and reports (and those recordings). In my opinion only, based on that, the comedy just wasn't there, it just didn't click or seem like laugh-out-loud material, whether it was the musical comedy and the song parodies, the physical Marx/Stooges routines, or the one-liners and skits as reported. But anyway.

It would be great if there are fans who actually saw the Pickle Brothers perform during any of these Beach Boys shows where they were on the bill, specifically 1967-68 tour dates. What was it all about? What did they do? Were they funny? Etc.

OK ; I saw them open up for The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, Strawberry Alarm Clock and Sole Survivors at the Westchester County Civic Center in NY , November 1967, right around Thanksgiving. The night was most memorable as the Boys played a brand new , unreleased song, "Darlin' , and it was fabulous. But ...the Pickle Brothers....There are no adjectives that describe how awful they were; there wasnt a laugh in their skit , at least that I can remember. They did the takeoff on the Bobbi Gentry song , changing to to someone jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, definitely did that banana joke; we New Yorker's are not as good as Philly fans when it comes to heckling and booing , but I would say we are at least in the conversation. The audience gave up on the Pickle Brothers about two minutes into their act ; "get the f.ck off" and "you guys suck" were some of the nicer comments ; the guy behind me yelled out " hey I didn't come here to listen to this sh*t , bring out the f..king Beach Boys"....that's when I started laughing. It went all downhill from there; everyone yelling and booing until they went off ...then there was a huge ovation.  I remember saying to one of my friends " I wonder who the f...king moron was who decided it was a good idea to have these guys open up".

For the record , The Beach Boys were great. 
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