Like Nancy & Lee On Acid?

Once again, things that I might have known, things that I maybe should have known, and things that I wish I had known coalesce, just because I looked at the entries in the lower levels of a Billboard chart.

The chart in question was from February 24, 1968, forty-seven years ago today, when I was fourteen and liked hearing the No. 1 record of the day, the sublime “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat. I also liked the No. 10 record, the Lettermen’s medley, Medley: “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” The rest of the Top Ten – the Classics Four, the Temptations, Otis Redding, the Lemon Pipers and the rest – were of little interest to me.

I was still very much an Easy Listening kid (or, in today’s parlance, an Adult Contemporary kid, a label I probably would have liked very much).

So even though I knew most of the stuff on the top of the chart – and learned to like a lot of it in the years to come – there are, as always, records on the bottom of the chart that I never heard back then (and that I generally never hear until I do one of these posts). Today, in that chart from 1968, it’s “Dr. Jon (The Medicine Man)” by Jon and Robin & The In Crowd, which was bubbling under at No. 125.

The title intrigued me, so I found a video of the record at YouTube, clicked the play button and found great weirdness:

While I listened, hearing a vague echo of something else, I glanced through the comments, and I saw that a visitor calling himself StudioZ7 had noted: “Sounds like Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood on acid.” And I nodded, because that pretty much nailed it. And there’s a similar sort of weirdness, this time with a garage rock foundation, in “Love Me Baby” on the B-side.

The record went to No. 87, a far cry from the first release from Jon & Robin & The In Crowd: “Do It Again A Little Bit Slower” went to No. 18 in June 1967. As familiar as “Do It Again” is, I must have heard it sometime, and it was likely the Jon & Robin version; a quick search for covers in the U.S. comes up blank (though I do find references to covers in Denmark and France without much effort). But I’d certainly forgotten about the record until this week.

It turns out that the duo’s Jon was John Abnor, Jr., and the Abnak label on which the duo recorded was owned by his father, John Abnor, Sr. The label was started, says Wikipedia, mainly as an outlet for the music of young Jon and his partner, Javonne “Robin” Braga. I wonder if that was truly the case, though, as the label’s largest success came from the Five Americans, whose “Western Union” went to No. 5 in April 1967, before Jon & Robin & The In Crowd had seen “Do It Again” enter the chart.

(In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn notes that in 1970, Javonne Braga – “Robin” – married James Wright of the Five Americans. Maybe it was no big deal, but I can’t help wondering if Wright stole that girl away.)

“Do It Again . . .” and “Dr. Jon” were the only records that Jon & Robin – with or without the In Crowd – got into the Hot 100; three other singles, two credited just to Jon & Robin, bubbled under. All five singles are available at YouTube at the #JonAndRobin channel, and all five of them are on the 2006 CD Do it Again: The Best of Jon & Robin. (A sixth single, “Hangin’ From Your Lovin’ Tree,” is listed in Top Pop Singles but is credited to simply the In Crowd, and it’s not on the CD.)

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2 Responses to “Like Nancy & Lee On Acid?”

  1. jb says:

    I have also heard the term “Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood on acid” applied to Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan, famed for “Tennessee Bird Walk” in the winter of 1970. Recording acts just don’t seem to get bent like that anymore.

  2. porky says:

    Lee himself may have been on acid. Ever hear “Some Velvet Morning?”

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