Harpers Bizarre – “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”



Harpers Bizarre was an American band, whose sound belonged to the “sunshine pop” category which was popular in mid-1960s; they could also be noted for their baroque pop arrangements. Formerly known as the Tikis, they renamed themselves Harpers Bizarre and released their first single “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” under their new name. “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” reached the Top 20 pop chart and Top 10 easy listening chart in early 1967, and was their only biggest hit in their career. At this point drummer and vocalist John Petersen (formerly of The Beau Brummels), had joined the band. Harpers Bizarre achieved their only other Top 40 hit “Come To The Sunshine” which was also a Top 10 on the easy listening market (as also were “Anything Goes,” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” which topped that chart). The band split not long after their album Harpers Bizarre 4was released in 1969. They made a partial reunion, this time without Templeman, in 1976, working on and releasing their one last studio album As Time Goes By before permanently disbanding. Harpers Bizarre also covered some old standards and other songs written by their own peers like Randy Newman and Van Dyke Parts.

Formation of Harpers Bizarre

Harper’s Bizarre was an American pop-rock band formed in Santa Cruz, California in the early 1960s. They were consisted of vocalist/guitarist/trumpetist/leader Ted Templeman, guitarist and vocalist Dickie Scopettone, guitarist/vocalist Eddie James, guitarist/vocalist/drummer Dick Yount, and later member John Petersen (former member of another pop group Beau Brummell) on drums and percussion. Tom Sowell also later became a member of the group, replacing James.

Many of the band members performed previously as The Tikis, a Beatlesque-cum-surf pop music outfit who attained some local success in and around Santa Cruz.

“The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”

The band signed up to Autumn Records and released a couple of records. The label’s producer Leon Waronker wanted to re-make Simon and Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),” (written by Paul Simon) and so had the group to record it. Now calling themselves Harpers Bizarre (whose name was a play on the Harper’s Bazaar magazine) did the song in arrangements that resemble that of the Beach Boys and even of the Swingle Sisters.

“The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” became one of the sunniest hits of 1967. It reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100, #4 adult contemporary and #34 on the British chart early that year.

Other records and music-related projects

However, “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” would become Harpers Bizarre’s only major hit. Other subsequent single didn’t do as well as the other singles, although some of them were top 10 easy listening hits, such as their rendition of Glenn Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” which rose to become an easy listening chart-topper. Another single of theirs, “Come to the Sunshine” (by Van Dyke Parks) was a Top 40 pop hit at #37 in 1967. Other singles missed the Top 40 such as their cover of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” (#43 pop, #6 adult conteporary, #33 UK; it is also being heard in the 1970 motion pictrue The Boys in the Band), and the above-mentioned “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (#45 pop, #1 adult contemporary).

Harpers Bizarre also provided music for the Peter Sellers-starred romantic comedy I Love You, Alice B. Toklas

The earliest lineup of the band released their final album Harpers Bizarre 4 before breaking up in 1970. Six years later all of the members (except Templeman) reunited one more time to record an LP called As Time Goes By.

In 1997 a best-of album called Feelin’ Groovy: The Best of Harpers Bizarre was released.

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