DEAR JERRY: Before forming the Lovin' Spoonful, and making "Do You Believe in
Magic," did John Sebastian have any solo recordings? Or was he perhaps in
another band whose records never clicked?
Denise Goodwin, Patterson, N.J.
DEAR DENISE: The latter is the case. In 1963, John, using only his first and middle name, John Benson, and a dozen other musicians formed the Even Dozen Jug Band.
In early 1964, their self-titled LP came out in mono (Elektra 246) and stereo (Elektra 7246).
Unfortunately, it was easy for a jug band even a very good one to be thoroughly overshadowed by the sizzling British Invasion. "The Even Dozen Jug Band" simply came along about a year too late.
Likely due to a change in personnel, the Even Dozen was really a baker's dozen. Here then was the line-up:
Bob Gurland (vocal)
Danny Lauffer (jug)
Dave Grisman (mandolin)
Frank Goodkin (banjo)
Fred Weisz (violin)
John Benson (John Benson Sebastian) (kazoo, harmonica)
Josh Rifkin (vocal, piano)
Maria D'Amato (later to be Maria Muldaur) (vocal)
Peggy Haine (jug)
Pete Jacobson (vocal, guitar, banjo)
Pete Siegel (vocal, guitar, banjo)
Stefan Grossman (vocal, guitar, banjo)
Steve Katz (vocal, washboard)
Besides John Sebastian, who formed the Lovin' Spoonful, in 1965, Steve Katz joined the Blues Project then Blood, Sweat & Tears, both in 1967. David Grisman hooked up with Earth Opera in 1969, and later had charted albums with Stephane Grappelli (1981) and Jerry Garcia (1996), as well as solo LPs in 1980 and '81. Finally, Maria Muldaur had two Top 15 hits with "Midnight at the Oasis" and "I'm a Woman," both in 1974.