The 1910 Fruitgum Co.

The catchy, childlike pop songs that emanated from the studios of Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, in New York City, between 1967 and 1969, were dubbed bubblegum music.

Principal exponents of this sound included The Lemon Pipers and Ohio Express, both of whom emerged from the state after which the latter was named, and The 1910 Fruitgum Co., from New Jersey.

The 1910 Fruitgum Co. had as its leading singer, Mark Gutkowski. His boyish voice suited the songs, which the band came to record.

Officially, the group was comprised of Mark Gutkowski on vocals and the organ; Frank Jeckell, vocals and rhythm guitar; Floyd Marcus, vocals and drums; Steve Mortkowitz, on bass; and Pat Karwan, on vocals and leading guitar. Nonetheless, replacements were always in the wings and as these were often used, just who played what on which recordings appears blurred.

Placing to one side the actual composition of the group, there is no denying that its relatively short career produced recordings that the young, and young at heart, thoroughly enjoyed.

“Simon Says”, so obviously based upon the children’s game, swiftly brought the group international fame, in 1968, when it reached No.5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart; as well as, for example, No.2, in Britain, and No.12 in Australia. The recording’s success in Great Britain was to also mark the band’s last there.

Seven months after the release of its initial hit, The 1910 Fruitgum Co. had another on hand this time in the form of “1, 2, 3, Red Light”, which peaked at No.5 in both America and Australia. “Goody Goody Gumdrops” faired considerably better in Australia (No.13) than in America (No. 37).

The new year came and with it, one last major success, “Indian Giver”. It ascended to No.5 in the United States and No.9, in Australia. I particularly like the intergration of the tom-toms in this cleverly written recording, which, emulated the group’s previous two major successes by managing to sell in excess of a million copies. “Indian Giver” was covered by The Ramones in the 1980s.

In all, seven of the quintet’s singles entered the charts while five albums were released in its name.