Guest Author - Lizz Shepherd
The Lemon Pipers are best known for their infectious hit Green Tambourine, and with good reason. After such a promising start, the Lemon Pipers never had another hit. They made only two full-length albums and quickly faded into the class of one-hit wonders. The band seemed personable, certainly unique and likable, but they never managed to achieve the stardom they seemed destined to reach.
After their 1968 hit, the band strove for what they felt was their true sound- the psychedelic music that was so craved by the hippie crowd. And they were good at it. If you listen to Green Tambourine, it has little of the bubblegum sound that their label was trying to push. Far from sounding like most of the Monkees hits, it sounded much more like the drug-influenced music that was rising to the top of the charts. The label they were under contract with, Buddha Records, took a very different view. The label demanded music that would fit more neatly into the pop that would have the biggest mainstream audience. Unless the band capitulated, the Lemon Pipers would be fired from the label.
Buddha Records chose a single called Rice is Nice to be the group's next hit. Though the song was as bubblegum and saccharine as any of the mainstream hits on the charts, the song did poorly. It failed to break into the top 40 songs, and the audience that loved Green Tambourine now saw them as a shallow bubblegum band. The next song to be released, Jelly Jungle, was more similar to the folk sound of Green Tambourine, but by that time the damage had been fatal to the band's following. The song performed even more poorly than Rice is Nice had, and the band had been labeled a bubblegum group and a one-hit wonder.
The five-man group didn't last much longer, and finally each went his separate way. The drummer of the Lemon Pipers, Bill Albaugh, died at 53 in 1999. The other band members are engaged in their separate pursuits. The Lemon Pipers may never have a comeback or put together a tour, but they will always be remembered for their two imaginative albums and the image of their tambourine player revolving on a tiny carousel during a live performance. If you haven't seen the footage, check out the YouTube clip.
The Best of the Lemon Pipers has remastered music for the Lemon Pipers fan or the Lemon Pipers curious.