The Archies: “Sugary” Pop Perfection

Which fictional group managed to land six songs on Billboard’s top 100 chart, one of which was the top selling song of 1969? That would be The Archies, the animated version of the long-running comic book characters Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and Jughead, who leapt from the printed page onto television screens in 1968. Produced by Filmation, the CBS Saturday morning series The Archies, aka The Archie Show, featured the Riverdale teens getting into the usual cartoon show hijinks. Each episode included musical segments where their band performed bubblegum pop tunes, crafted by some top-tier talent.

Producer Don Kirshner was the man behind the music for The Archies. Kirshner helped kickstart the chart success of The Monkees, bringing in songwriters like Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to pen hits like “Last Train To Clarksville” for the band. When the group demanded more control over their music, Kirshner tried to maintain his tight grip but was fired by their label. The Archies, a fictional band made up of session players and singers, couldn’t argue with Kirshner. According to comments throughout the years, he was definitely happier with his cartoon pop group.

Kirshner hired renowned producer-songwriter Jeff Barry, and along with Andy Kim, Barry wrote many of the songs for The Archies. Singers Ron Dante and Toni Wine provided the lion’s share of the vocals, and the talented studio musicians who performed on the tracks included Hugh McCracken and Dave Appell on guitar, Chuck Rainey and Joey Macho on bass, Garry Chester and Buddy Saltzman on drums, and Ron Frangipane on keyboards. Over the next two years, a half dozen songs by The Archies bounced onto the pop charts. A cut-out version of the single even adorned the back of cereal boxes (and it really played!). So pour yourself a bowl of Post Super Sugar Crisp and let’s spin some groovy tunes from The Archies.

Bang Shang-a-Lang

The band’s initial single was penned and co-produced by Jeff Barry, who’d previously co-written classic songs like “Da Doo Ron Ron.” This catchy tune rose to number 22 on the charts. The song was featured on the group’s self-titled debut album released in 1968. Other tracks on the disc included the pop-tinted “You Make Me Wanna Dance” and the rocking “Truck Driver” which were also Barry compositions, as well as “Hide and Seek,” written by Mark Barkan and Ritchie Adams, who would also contribute a number of songs to The Archies discography.

Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y D.O.O)

This perky paean to a girl named S.K.O.O.B.Y D.O.O (not the famed cartoon canine) made it to number 53 on the charts. Co-written by Barry with Andy Kim, the song sits alongside eleven other slices of chewy bubblegum pop on 1969’s Everything’s Archie, the band’s sophomore release. The album also features the lively “Melody Hill,” the yummy “Upside Down, Inside Out,” and the song that cemented The Archies’ place in the bubblegum pop canon, “Sugar Sugar.”

Sugar Sugar

Is this the tastiest slice of bubblegum pop ever created? This super-sweet confection, produced by Jeff Barry and co-written by Barry and Kim, floated all the way to number one, thanks to its joyous, infectious lyrics, dynamite vocal turns by Dante and Wine (with an assist from songwriter Kim) and the backing of those top-notch session players, including Appell and Frangipane. This bubblegum classic was Billboard’s biggest-selling song of 1969. It even pushed “Honky Tonk Women” by The Rolling Stones out of the number one slot. “Sugar, Sugar” has been covered by Wilson Pickett, Bob Marley and The Wailers, Tom Jones, and Tina Turner, among others.

Jingle Jangle

After “Sugar, Sugar,” The Archies weren’t quite done with chart success. Their next single was this delectable tune, another Barry-Kim composition, anchored by the marvelous interplay of Wine, Dante, and Kim on vocals. “Jingle Jangle,” also the title of the group’s third album, notched the number 10 spot on the charts. The disc features the harmony-infused pop-rock hybrids “Get on the Line,” “Look Before You Leap,” and the soulful “She’s Putting Me Through Changes.”

Who’s Your Baby?

This effervescent number features spirited performances from Dante and female vocalist Donna Marie, who stepped in when Wine left the group. The song (from the prolific Barry and Kim) was released as a single in 1970. It climbed to number 40 on the charts, and its B side was the Latin-flavored “Señorita Rita.” Who’s Your Baby” was a non-album track that preceded the release of Sunshine, the next full-length Archies record.


This sparkling song (the last Archies single to hit the US charts) was written by Bobby Bloom and Jeff Barry, who also co-wrote Bloom’s hit “Montego Bay.” A glorious piece of fizzy pop, “Sunshine” was the title track of the group’s fourth album, issued in 1970. While the song only reached number 57 on the charts, this irresistible tune is one of the band’s best latter-day pop delicacies. It’s almost impossible not to smile and sing along. Sunshine also includes the kitschy “Waldo P. Emerson Jones,” a song whose lyrics manage to mention Rock Hudson, Superman, Jimmy Page, and The Beatles!

The Archies released one more album after Sunshine, 1971’s This Is Love. Jeff Barry continued to write and produce music throughout the years, including songs recorded by Olivia Newton-John and Glen Campbell. Andy Kim had a successful career as a solo artist, with hits like “Baby I Love You,” his cover of a song originally recorded by The Ronettes, co-written by Barry, who produced Kim’s version. Kim also reached the charts with 1974’s “Rock Me Gently.” Ron Dante went on to produce music for Barry Manilow, Cher and Pat Benatar, and still performs regularly. Toni Wine, who co-wrote “A Groovy Kind of Love” and “Candida,” also continued to write, produce and perform in the intervening years. She toured with Tony Orlando in the mid-2000s.

The Archies animated series aired in various configurations throughout the 1970s. A live-action TV show featuring the Archie characters, Riverdale, premiered in 2017. Riverdale eventually introduced the band concept into the series, which ran for seven seasons on The CW. The enjoyable music of The Archies, with its pure pop essence and positive energy, lives on in the hearts of bubblegum music fans everywhere.

-John Visconti

Fair use image of “The Archies” TV show (via Wikimedia Commons)

Other Posts You Might Like

John Visconti is a lifelong music and movies aficionado with wide-ranging tastes, from The British Invasion and Motown, to the blues, a dash of jazz, on through to power pop, funk, retro soul, folk, bubblegum and metal. He digs film noir, screwball comedies, classic B movies, and Toho’s original Godzilla series. In the late 1980s, John was a writer and editor for the KISS fanzine Fire. A friend once called him “the human incarnation of an entertainment encyclopedia.” After long stints in the worlds of publishing and IT, he’s currently working in healthcare. You can check out his blog, John V's Eclectic Avenue at http://jveclectic.blogspot.com.

0 comments on “The Archies: “Sugary” Pop Perfection

Leave a Reply (and please be kind!)