The Seeds comprised a Los Angeles-area garage band in the 1960's. They added a lead singer and came up with a hit that put them in the national limelight briefly in the latter part of the decade.
Richard Marsh was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, most likely in 1937 although he has cited other years as well. By the early 60's he had made his way to Los Angeles, where he found work singing in various bands. He led several different groups, including one called the Amoebas, and made some recordings under the name Richie Marsh. The Seeds were formed in 1965 by Daryl Hooper (keyboards), Jan Savage (lead guitar), Jeremy Levine (guitar) and Rick Andridge (drums). Levine was with the group for only a short time. The Seeds ran an ad that was spotted by Richard Marsh, who was now calling himself Sky Saxon. Saxon joined the group as lead singer and they worked well together, with Hooper's excellent keyboard work adding a distinct sound that made the group stand out in a crowded market. They signed a recording contract with GNP Crescendo and their first release, Can't Seem To Make You Mine, featured Saxon howling the lyrics and fell just short of making the top forty.
The group started as just another LA garage band, but as the music scene was evolving they took on the look and feel of a psychedelic band. Their next recording was Pushin' Too Hard, a hard-driving rocker that turned out to be just right for the times. Saxon delivered the vocals and was billed as the group's bass player, although session men handled the bass on their recordings, as well as a keyboard bass that Hooper developed. A year after it was released, local radio stations picked up Pushin' Too Hard and gave it some airplay, propelling it into the top forty and giving the Seeds national recognition. The solo is said to be based on a Lennon-McCartney song, Billy J. Kramer's Bad To Me. The song had simple, repetitive lyrics, delivered forcefully by Sky Saxon. It reached as high as number 36 in early 1967. Subsequent singles Mr. Farmer, A Thousand Shadows, and Try To Understand did not do nearly as well, other than as regional hits.
They did cover versions of tunes from the Rolling Stones, Bo Diddley, and some of the Merseybeat-style songs. Their recordings to this point were collected and issued on an album titled The Seeds '66 (which was later issued as Legendary Master Recordings on the Sonet label in 1978). The Seeds never quite reached the popularity level of a similar group that was popular in LA at the time, Love, even though they did manage to put one of their singles in the top forty. An album of psychedelia titled Future and another one that was really only done to fulfill a contract obligation Full Spoon Of Seedy Blues were issued in 1967. By 1969 the personnel in the band began to change, and another album was recorded, but their appeal was beginning to fade and in 1971 the group broke up, although there have been various revivals of it over the years.
Sky Saxon moved to Hawaii, then back to California, and became active with a religious group. He continued recording, and in the 1980's worked with some groups such as the Chesterfield Kings and Redd Kross. He reformed the Seeds with new musicians in the late 80's, and performed that way off and on into the 21st century, at one point bringing in original band member Jan Savage. Saxon passed away in an Austin, Texas hospital on June 25, 2009.
The Seeds have been called one of the forerunners of punk rock. The legacy left by the group is marked by their biggest hit Pushin' Too Hard, a record that was named one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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