BY TIM HINELY
The Lovin Spoonful had a helluva run in the mid-late ‘60s. They had nine Top 20 singles (seven of which were in the Top 10). Here, in full detail of the times, is the book by Lovin Spoonful bassist Steve Boone and Tony Moss.
Boone begins with his early days, as a kid growing up in Westhampton Beach, NY and then following his older brother, who was a musician himself, into bands. Then there’s a chance meeting a Greenwich Village hotel room where he will meet his soon-to-be band mates John Sebastian (from the NYC folk scene) and Zal Yanovsky (a Canadian ex-pat). Then finding drummer Joe Butler (the ladies man of the group, apparently) and voila, the Lovin’ Spoonful were born.
The band then had a meteoric rise but life at the top would only last a few years as personality conflicts and the stress of a bust in San Francisco that included Boone and Yanovsky which tore the band apart (Boone gets to finally tell his side of the story in which he and Yanovsky were considered finks about the music community, especially on the west coast, but as Boone tells it, they really had no other choice but to go along with the authorities).
After the band broke up Boone ended up in Florida on a sailboat (that’s a whole other story) while still occasionally playing music. After a descent into drugs Boone then begins life as a drug smuggler on a different boat, gets busted, does some time and still has a wicked drug habit that he’s struggling to break. He falls in a love a few times and by the time marriage number three rolls around (to a woman who thinks she’s a mermaid) he realizes something’s not working.
Only after deciding to reform the Lovin Spoonful (without John Sebastian’s blessing at first but he eventually comes around) with Joe Butler, Jerry Yester (who had taken Yanovsky’s place when he left the band in its original incarnation) and a few others, including Yester’s daughter Lena who Boone eventually falls for (despite a 32 years age difference) and they end up getting married (and remain so to this day).
Whew. It’s a wild ride and Boone’s has some serious storytelling talents (and got himself into some hairy situations). Also, readers will glad he was able to finally get clean from drugs as he seemed to be in a sad, vicious cycle. Despite his misgivings, he’s a good guy at heart who you really want to cheer for.
He has some frustrations by the book’s end about the ‘Spoonful, despite being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, never really getting their proper due and I agree. They were a terrific pop band who for a few years were on top of the world and despite not having a classic album in their catalog (no Pet Sounds or Sgt,. Peppers) the band were top notch players who wrote great songs. To me, that’s enough and Hotter Than a Match Head tells it all in bright, colorful fashion. I mean, we all believe in magic, right?