Gary Puckett was born in Minnesota and grew up in Yakima, Washington, near the town of Union Gap. He went to college in San Diego, but didn’t finish; instead, he played guitar in several bands before joining The Outcasts (bassist Kerry Chater, keyboardist Gary Withem, saxophonist Dwight Bement, and drummer Paul Wheatbread). They renamed themselves The Union Gap in 1967 and recorded a demo tape that found its way into the hands of producer and songwriter Jerry Fuller, who signed them to Columbia Records. They had a stream of hits, mostly written by Fuller, in the period 1967-1969. Wanting to write their own material and getting tired of recording Fuller’s songs, they parted ways in 1969. After releasing their last hit, “This Girl Is A Woman Now” in August 1969, Chater and Withem left the band, Bement took over on bass, and they added Barry McCoy on keyboards and horn player Richard Gabriel. They never regained their popularity, and disbanded in 1970.
Our first song today is “Young Girl,” released in March 1968 and again in the UK in June 1974. It was recorded from The Ed Sullivan Show, where they (badly) lip-synced it. It reached #2 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 and #1 on the UK Singles Chart in 1968, and #6 on the UK Singles chart when it was re-released with “Woman, Woman” on the flip side. Allmusic called the song’s lyrics (written by Jerry Fuller) “bizarrely pedophilic.”
Our second song is “Over You,” their third hit of 1968, released in October of that year. This time, the lip-syncing is done on The Jerry Lewis Show. The song reached #7 on the Hot 100.
Gary Puckett dropped out of sight in the mid-1970’s to study acting, and rejoined the oldies circuit in 1981. In 2010 he played his first-ever concert in Union Gap, Washington. His website is here; he looks pretty good, I’d say. He’s currently touring with a band that includes Jamie Hilbolt on keyboards, Woody Lingle on bass, and Mike Candito on drums.
Gary Puckett and The Union Gap: your Two for Tuesday, October 29, 2013.