So funny I just have to laugh,
All my troubles been torn in half
The Young Rascals originally called themselves the Rascals. But they changed their name at the insistence of the Harmonica Rascals, a defunct harmonica ensemble that had been popular in the thirties and forties.
The Harmonica Rascals had broken up in 1955 after the group’s leader, Borrah Minevitch, died of a heart attack. So it’s not clear why they cared whether the band that recorded today’s featured song called themselves the Young Rascals or just the Rascals.
|Johnny Puleo and the Harmonica Gang|
The star of the Harmonica Rascals was Johnny Puleo, a dwarf who stood only 4 feet 6 inches tall. After Minevitch’s death, Puleo formed his own group and called it the Harmonica Gang.
I remember seeing a harmonica band that included a dwarf perform in my home town when I was maybe ten years old. It may have been the Harmonica Gang, or it may have been a cheap imitation group. (I’m betting that I saw the original group because I have to think it’s not likely that there were two different American harmonica bands that featured dwarf harmonica virtuosi.)
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Young Rascals because the Rogues – my wildly popular 8th-grade band – covered “Good Lovin’,” their first big hit.
“Good Lovin’” was followed by “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “Groovin’,” “A Girl Like You,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “A Beautiful Morning,” and “People Got to Be Free.”
All of those singles were top 20 hits, and three of them made it all the way to #1. (The last two of those records were released after the Young Rascals had changed their name to the Rascals.)
|The Young Rascals|
Let’s face it, boys and girls – the Young Rascals/Rascals were pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Here’s “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” which was comfortably ensconced in the Billboard “Hot 100” fifty years ago today:
Click below to buy the song from Amazon: