The Seeds were an American rock band. The group, whose repertoire spread between garage rock and acid rock, are considered one of the pioneers of punk rock.
Lead singer Sky Saxon had a musical career that went back to pre-Beatle music days, when he recorded a few 45s under the name Richie Marsh. Born in Salt Lake City, he was based in Los Angeles from the early 1960s. The Seeds were formed in 1965 with Saxon joining as a response to an advertisement. Keyboardist Daryl Hooper was a major factor in the band's sound; the band was one of the first to utilize keyboard bass. Guitarists Jan Savage and Jeremy Levine with drummer Rick Andridge completed the original quintet, but Levine left shortly after the first recording sessions for personal reasons. Although Sky Saxon is usually credited as bass player, he did not play bass on any of the Seeds' recordings. This was handled by session men, usually one Harvey Sharpe. On stage, keyboardist Daryl Hooper would handle the bass parts via a separate bass keyboard, in the same way as Ray Manzarek did with The Doors.
The Seeds' first single "Can't Seem to Make You Mine" was a regional hit in southern California in 1965. The song was also played regularly on AM rock stations in northern California (and probably elsewhere), where it was well received by listeners. The band had their only national Top 40 hit, "Pushin' Too Hard", in 1966. Three subsequent singles, "Mr. Farmer" (also 1966), a re-release of "Can't Seem To Make You Mine" (1967), and "A Thousand Shadows" (1967) achieved more modest success, although all were most popular in southern California. Musically uncomplicated and dominated by Saxon's vocal style and flair for simple melodic hooks, their first two albums are today considered classics of '60s garage music. A later album (Future, 1967) was full-blown psychedelic rock, with ornate flower-themed graphics to match, and another was devoted to the blues (with liner notes by Muddy Waters).
By mid-1968, with their commercial popularity flagging, the group's personnel began to change; the band was renamed "Sky Saxon and the Seeds" in 1969, by which point Bob Norsoph, guitar, and Don Boomer, drums, had replaced Savage and Andridge. Saxon continued to use the name "The Seeds", using various backup musicians, at least through 1972; the last major-label records of new material by The Seeds—two non-charting singles on MGM records—were released in 1970.
After the dissolution of the Seeds, Sky Saxon joined the Yahowha religious group, inspired by their leader Father Yod. Although a member of the Source Family for several years, Saxon did not participate in any of the albums released by Yahowha 13 in the mid 1970s. He does appear on the "Golden Sunrise" album by Fire Water Air, which was a Yahowha 13 off-shoot, and later recorded the "Yod Ship Suite" album in memory of the deceased Father Yod. In the 1970s, Saxon also released the solo LPs "Lovers Cosmic Voyage" (credited to Sunlight) and "Live At The Orpheum" credited to Sunlight Rainbow. In the 1980s, Saxon collaborated with several bands—including Redd Kross and The Chesterfield Kings—before reforming the original Seeds in 1989 to headline "The Summer of Love Tour", along with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Arthur Lee and Love, The Music Machine, and The Strawberry Alarm Clock.
The Seeds remained dormant again until 2003, when Saxon reformed them with original guitarist Jan Savage and newcomers Rik Collins on bass, Mark Bellgraph on Guitar and Dave Klein on keyboards. This new version of the Seeds went through several incarnations, with Savage departing midway through their 2003 European tour due to his health. Saxon remained the only original member of The Seeds, which continued to tour Europe and the United States. Saxon died on June 25, 2009 of heart and renal failure.
Legacy and influence
On July 24, 2009, members of The Smashing Pumpkins, Love, and The Electric Prunes performed a tribute concert at the Echoplex in Los Angeles in memory of Sky Saxon.
A documentary film about The Seeds has been prepared by GNP Crescendo Records President Neil Norman, the son of the label's founder Gene Norman. Filming began in 2007, and draws on first-hand knowledge of the band, interviews and concert footage. The film titled Pushin' Too Hard, directed by Norman and produced by Alec Palao, premieres August 16, 2014 at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. A DVD release will follow later in the year.
- The Seeds 1966
- A Web of Sound 1966
- Future 1967
- A Full Spoon of Seedy Blues (as the Sky Saxon Blues Band) 1967
- Raw & Alive in Concert at Merlin's Music Box 1968
- Fallin' Off the Edge 1977
- Bad Part of Town 1982
- Evil Hoodoo 1988
- Travel with Your Mind 1993
- Red Planet 2004
- Back to the Garden 2008
- The Seeds (reissued in mono with unreleased tracks) 2013
- Web of Sound (double CD mono/stereo reissued with unreleased tracks) 2014
- Future (double CD mono/stereo reissued with unreleased tracks) 2014
- Raw & Alive (double CD two concerts, the original without screaming and with crowd, and another earlier studio concert) 2014
- Official website of Sky Saxon and The Seeds - Tribute album details here
- Sky Sunlight Saxon.com– Music,Lyrics,Photos and Discography
- "Unofficial" Sky Saxon and the Seeds website with extensive discography
- Biography at blogcritics.org
- "The Lama Workshop", psychedelic music site with detailed history of Sky Saxon's recordings
- Sky Saxon Interview in Horror Garage
- An Appreciation of Sky Saxon by the Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan
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Image from Discogs