In 1967 alone, The Lovin’ Spoonful made three historic appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Their debut show on January 22nd found the band on stage in front of a farm house backdrop. They performed their hit, “Nashville Cats,” with John playing the autoharp. Next they played “Darlin’ Be Home Soon” with John playing a guitar accompanied by the full Sullivan orchestra.
Their following appearance occurred two months later on March 19th and it was a bit more elaborate. After performing “Bald Headed Lena” with Zal Yanovsky singing lead, Ed instructed the studio audience to watch the monitors for “the scenic effects.” As the group performed “Do You Believe in Magic?” the set transformed magically (due to early TV special effects) and the band members disappeared and reappeared in different spots anytime the word “magic” was sung. The audience also let out a big “awwwww” when a puppy magically appeared on the set. After that performance, the Spoonful performed their hit “Daydream.”
For their last appearance on October 15th, there was a change in the band’s lineup. Yanovsky had left the band due to drug and legal problems in Canada. He was replaced by Jerry Yester. For this final performance, they used synthesizers and a hair dryer microphone as they sang “She’s Still a Mystery” and “Only Pretty.”
John Sebastian recalled, “We didn’t fit in with this mold of four mop tops very well. People kind of expected us to imitate the The Beatles in a lot a ways that we didn’t. But Ed Sullivan was the first guy who got it. He got it immediately. He heard our song, he said, ‘Here’s an American group with an American sound.’ And he was so proud, you know, in his own way. I could see that he was excited to present this American thing that also made girls scream and disrupted his show.” During a few of Sullivan’s introductions of the group the crowd would be so excited that Sullivan would drop his friendly persona and ask them to please settle down.
In 1969, John Sebastian decided to pursue a solo career. In 2000, the band reunited when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, just two short years later, Zal Yanovsky died after suffering a heart attack. To this day, Steve Boone, Joe Butler and Jerry Yester continue to tour under The Lovin’ Spoonful name.
Check out our Lovin’ Spoonful playlist to see full performances from The Ed Sullivan Show!