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interviews with icons from the greatest musical era

  • Dick Scoppettone (Harpers Bizarre) on Pure Pop Radio In Conversation - Part Two - 3-2-1652:50

  • Dick Scoppettone (Harpers Bizarre) on Pure Pop Radio In Conversation - Part One - 3-1-161:09:00

Dick Scoppettone is a talk show host who started his Oldies But Goodies radio show in Santa Cruz, California. Back in the Swingin' Sixties, he was the lead singer for  Harpers Bizarre, the group with the hit record "Feelin' Groovy".

About  (excerpted from the Santa Cruz Sentinel)

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY STORIES

STILL FEELIN’ GROOVY

On his radio show, former pop star Dick Scoppettone has a lot to reminisce about

By Wallace Baine

wbaine@santacruzsentinel.com @wallacebaine on Twitter

SANTA CRUZ >> If you’re looking for someone to host a radio show reminiscing about the old days in Santa Cruz County, then Dick Scoppettone is your man. He’s 70 years old, so he’s done some living. He’s Santa Cruz born and raised, part of one of the county’s most colorful families, knows scads of locals and loves unwinding a good story.

So, yes, Scoppettone’s a natural fit for “Santa Cruz Oldies But Goodies,” an hour-long radio show on KSCO (1080 AM) that runs Sundays from 6 to 7 p.m. The show’s format could not be simpler: It’s all about Scoppettone, his guest and his callers remembering times gone by, mainly from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, but could include any time period.

But there’s one stretch — the mid- to late 1960s — that is kind of blank spot in Scoppettone’s long personal history in Santa Cruz. He was a bit busy in those days ... being a pop star.

OK, sing along with me: “Slow down, you move too fast ...” That’s, of course, “The 59th Street Bridge Song,” aka “Feelin’ Groovy.” Yes, it’s a Paul Simon song. But do you know who first released it into the pop-music wild? Who first made it a hit?

Dick Scoppettone and his band Harpers Bizarre.

Scoppettone had been playing in high school bands in Santa Cruz. First, it was the Couriers, which came squarely out of the old Kingston Trio-style folk music of the day. Then, when the Beatles landed in the U.S. and wiped out the folk scene almost instantly, Dick and his buddies transformed into the Tikis, who became popular playing Beatles and Beach Boys covers.

But the Tikis had grander ambitions. Eventually they signed with San Francisco’s Autumn Records.

“They didn’t actually like our music,” Scoppettone said. “They just signed us to get us to stop pestering them.”

Dick Scoppettone was one of the original members of the band Harpers Bizarre, which had a 1967Top 20hit with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song.”

When Autumn sold out to Warner Bros., the new bosses sent a young record producer to visit the Tikis. That guy was Lenny Waronker, who eventually rose to be president at Warner. Waronker had in mind a makeover for Scoppettone and his songwriting partner, Ted Templeman. He had gotten his hands on an unreleased Simon & Garfunkel song and thought it would be perfect for what would later become Harpers Bizarre.

“Ted and I almost threw up,” said Scoppettone. “We were heavy into rock ‘n’ roll. This just wasn’t our thing. But eventually we figured we had to give them whatever they wanted. We didn’t really care. We just wanted to release a record.”

The song reached No. 13 on the Billboard pop charts during the 1967 “Summer of Love” and the band eventually released five albums. It also toured the country constantly, giving Dickie Scoppettone from Santa Cruz a fleeting glimpse of the rock star life.

“You wouldn’t believe how many pairs of Italian shoes I had,” he laughed.

GETTING TO KNOW

DICK SCOPPETTONE

Home: Scotts Valley, born and raised in Santa Cruz

Family: He and his wife, Mimi — also a Santa Cruz native, from the Sinnott family in the San Lorenzo Valley — were longtime operators of the Nature First Tree Care business before they sold it in 2015. Dick is the son of the late Judge James Scoppettone, a towering name in legal circles in Santa Cruz in the mid-20th century. Dick’s brother Jim Scoppettone is an internationally respected impressionist painter, famous for raising his family on the Scotts Valley property once owned by Alfred Hitchcock.

The Tikis: Dick’s band the Tikis regularly played the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz during the mid 1960s, performing Beatles and Beach Boys songs when those bands were just beginning to mushroom in popularity. The Tikis then auditioned for ‘every record company in Hollywood,’ said Dick, and were turned away every time.

Harpers Bizarre: After Warner Bros. bought out the contracts from Autumn Records, where the Tikis originally signed, the band was informed it needed to change its name. Dick and bandmates Ted Templeman, Dick Yount and Eddie James drew up a long list of potential new names. They finally settled on The Archdiocese. ‘I still can’t make heads or tails about where that came from,’ said Dick, who spent his entire childhood educational life at Holy Cross Catholic School in Santa Cruz. The label nixed that idea and, reportedly, the name Harpers Bizarre was dreamed up by a secretary at Warner Bros.

First album: The band’s debut album was produced by Lenny Waronker and featured the legendary lineup of studio musicians informally known as the ‘Wrecking Crew.’ The band’s biggest hit was ‘The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),’ which was arranged by Leon Russell, but it also scored with hits on Glenn Miller’s ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ and Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes.’ Ted Templeman went on to become a successful producer in his own right with the Doobie Brothers, Van Halen and others.


Dick was interviewed by Alan Haber for Alan's radio show, Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation. Listen below as Dick tells the Harpers Bizarre story.

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