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’70s Band “Looking Glass” Formed At Rutgers [VIDEOS]

Looking Glass
"Brandy" ready to play on New Jersey 101.5! (Craig Allen photo)

“Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” is one of Jersey’s Favorite Hits…in fact, one of the biggest faves! From time to time, we mention that the band formed at Rutgers University. But, there’s more to the story!

The band formed in New Brunswick in 1969, while the bandmembers were college students. It originally consisted of Elliot Lurie (lead guitar and lead vocals), Jeff Grob (drums), Larry Gonsky (piano), and Pieter Sweval (bass).

After graduation, a lack of work caused the band to split into two parts: Lurie and Gonsky joined the group “Fake Fun,” and Sweval and Grob formed the group “Tracks.” After a few months of faring no better (read: no gigs), the original foursome got back together. Two years later, they were still playing bars in New Jersey and New York, hoping for their big break!

That big break was CBS Records President Clive Davis, who liked the band’s performance of “Brandy,” and signed the band to Epic Records. Multiple mixdowns of the song were produced, as “Looking Glass” and Epic producers were trying to find the right “sound.” One unreleased version of the song included ship bells, another included bongos!

“Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” was released on May 18, 1972. The record label initially did not push the record, they did not expect much to happen. Then, a disc jockey at a station (not in New Jersey) liked the song and “spiked it,” started playing it on his show…and the listener lines lit up! The record label noticed, and the rest is rock history!

“Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” went on to be a million seller (certified Aug. 9, 1972). It spent one week at #1, and 16 weeks on the Top-40 charts in the summer of 1972!

Then, Looking Glass waited another year for a hit…any kind of hit!

Follow-up record releases “Golden Rainbow” and “Rainbow Man” went unnoticed. They sounded so different from “Brandy” that no one knew that the songs were from Looking Glass, and neither song even made the Top-100 charts!

In 1973, Joe Dube replaced Jeff Grob on drums. And, “Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne,” (with Lurie on vocals like “Brandy”), looked like the song that would return “Looking Glass” to the top of the charts! “Jimmy” went to (only) #33, in September 1973. The follow-up single, a bluesy-sounding “City Lady” bombed completely!

What happened next? Lurie went solo, and while “Your Love Song” sounded like Looking Glass, no one cared. The rest of the band released “Highway To Hollywood” under the new name “Lookinglass.” It was totally ignored…meaning the end of the original band under any name.

Both “Brandy” and “Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne” can be found on several 1970s music compilation discs, should you want to add these songs to your personal “record library!”

And, “Brandy” lives on…one of Jersey’s Favorite Hits…by a homegrown band…on New Jersey 101.5!

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