Friday, July 26, 2013

Beaver and the Trappers -- "Happiness Is Havin' " (1963)

Happiness is 
Goin' about a hundred and ten
Blowing your mind 
And coming back down again

I'm currently reading an absolutely fabulous book -- Domenic Priore's Riot on Sunset Strip -- which is about the mid-sixties music scene in Los Angeles.

The book hits all the famous L.A. groups -- the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Doors, Arthur Lee and Love, the Mamas and the Papas, the Turtles, etc.  But the real attraction of it for me is that it also touches on  hundreds of one-hit wonders and garage bands from Southern California that I know little or nothing about.  I could easily spend the next year featuring songs I've learned about from this book and nothing else.

Click here to order the book from Amazon:

I'm off on vacation tomorrow (although this post won't appear until just after my return), and I don't have a lot of time to devote to 2 or 3 lines tonight.  But I couldn't resist introducing you to Beaver and the Trappers before I left.

Page 128 of Riot on Sunset Strip discusses the relationship between the Beach Boys and a group called Redwood (which later became Three Dog Night), Gary Lewis & the Playboys, the Electric Prunes ("I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night"), a group called The Leathercoated Minds that featured Leon Russell and J. J. Cale, a single by The Second Helping (featuring a "scowling, jackhammer vocal" by . . . would you believe, Kenny Loggins?), and an album recorded in 1966 by Mae West and a group called Somebody's Chyldren.  (That's just one page, boys and girls.)

Page 128 also includes a story about a performer whose appearance surprised the audience during an open-mic night at the Wild Thing, a club that was located just a couple of blocks from the corner of Hollywood and Vine:

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Jerry Mathers, the kid from Leave It To Beaver, appeared on stage and started performing garage-punk songs.  This wasn't an entirely isolated incident, as Beaver & The Trappers then cut a single, "In Misery," for the White Cliffs label.  On the B-side, "Happiness Is Havin'," Mathers sounds like a virtual guru, declaring: "Happiness is goin' about a hundred and ten/Blowing your mind and coming back down again."

A pensive Beaver Cleaver
According to a Leave It To Beaver fan website, Jerry Mathers formed Beaver and the Trappers in 1966, about the time he graduated from high school.  Jerry played guitar and sang; the drummer was Rich Correll, who appeared on the TV show as "Richard Rickover," one of Beaver's pals.

Rich Correll in high school
Correll had much more success as a director than as an actor -- or as a rock drummer.  He's directed dozens of TV sitcoms over the past 25 years -- including Full House, Married . . . with Children, Family Matters, and Hannah Montana.

Rich Correll, director
Mathers claimed that "Happiness Is Havin' " went to number one in both Hawaii and Alaska.  After extensive research, I was unable to verify that claim.  I can tell you that Beaver and the Trappers never made the Billboard charts. 

"Leave It To Beaver" was the inspiration for a number of records.  

For example, there's "You've Lost That Beaver Cleaver," by the Birch Creek Brothers -- a parody of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."

Jerry Mathers today
Angel and the Reruns released "Beaver Cleaver Fever."  (The other side of that 45 was a song about Buffy from "Family Affair.")

In 1981, a garage-punk band named The Hugh Beaumont Experience from Ft. Worth, Texas, recorded an eponymous EP.

And then there's the immortal "Something's Wrong With the Beaver," a song bemoaning Beaver's premature death by Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys.  (I've owned this record since I was in law school.)  

She climbed the stairs that mornin'
Found him rather pale . . .
She cried down to the breakfast nook,
"Ward, there's something wrong!"

Something's wrong with the Beaver
The Beaver, I believe-uh, is gone!

Kinky Friedman
That's about all yours truly has time for tonight: vacation beckons!  I have no idea what song the next 2 or 3 lines will feature . . . but I trust that when I get to Cape Cod, there will be a muse or two there to inspire me.

(Note: When a writer starts referring to his "muse," he either has or is about to jump the shark.)

Here's "Happiness Is Havin'":

Click here to buy P. J. O'Connell's cover of "Happiness is Havin'":

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