Craig Allen’s Fun Facts: “Brandy” by NJ’s Looking Glass
Have you seen "Guardians Of The Galaxy 2" yet?
This new blockbuster movie calls "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" by Looking Glass..."possibly Earth's finest composition."
One of the biggest of "Jersey's Favorite Hits" is featured almost in its entirety, in the film's opening scene!
This high praise is...a good reason to put the song under my "Fun Facts" microscope!
All 4 guys in the band were graduates of Rutgers...they formed the band while at school.
Lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Elliot Lurie, keyboardist Larry Gonski, drummer Jeff Grob, and bass player Pieter Sweval.
They often rehearsed in a barn in Glen Gardner.
For a few years, the guys played cover versions of hit songs, as well as their own original music, at frat parties, and in the bars around the New Brunswick area...waiting for that "big break."
That break came in the name of Clive Davis...the legendary record executive who discovered (and nurtured the careers of) artists including NJ's own Whitney Houston, along with Billy Joel, Santana, and Barry Manilow, to name a few!
Davis usually had a good ear in picking hit records...but he had a bit of a misstep with "Brandy." I'll get to that in a moment...
The guys went into the studio, and recorded "Brandy" 7 times before they...got it right.
"Brandy" tells the story of a man who is torn between his love for a barmaid, and his love for the sea. You KNEW that.
Did you know that "Brandy" is named after Elliot Lurie's high school sweetheart "Randy?"
Back to Clive Davis: he chose to make "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" the B side!
The "hit" was supposed to be the song "Don't It Make You Feel Good."
When released on the "Epic Records" label, both sides of the promotional 45 single were ignored by radio!
Until Washington DC radio personality Harv Moore flipped the record over, and played "Brandy." Station request lines started to light up...and the song took off, nationwide!
"Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" would debut on the Top-40 charts on June 17, 1972.
It would reach #1 on August 26th (and be replaced a week later by "Black & White" by Three Dog Night).
Looking Glass would go on to appear on "American Bandstand" with Dick Clark...and play at Carnegie Hall! Pretty heady stuff!
Recently, I got my hands on an "American Top-40 with Casey Kasem" from the time...with Casey telling the story of a major American band being advised by the Mexican government NOT to cross the border due to their "long hair." The band: Looking Glass!
Looking Glass would try to recapture that...lightning in a bottle...
They would follow up "Brandy" with "Jimmy Love Mary-Anne."
It would land at #33 on the Hot 100 chart...a year after Brandy...in the summer of 1973.
I really like this long-forgotten Jersey gem! It isn't heard anywhere anymore...yet, it sounds quite a lot like "Brandy." I would have expected it to do better with the "Brandy" fans of the time!
On the other hand...
The rest of Looking Glass' music...didn't sound like their big hit!
This fact caused a problem at concerts. While concert-goers expected pop songs, Looking Glass was a ROCK band...and this left much of the audience rather disappointed.
Elliot Lurie left the band in 1973, for a solo career (which did not materialize).
He was replaced...and Looking Glass broke up shortly afterwards.
Of course, in the world of rock 'n' roll, that is not the end of the story!
In 1995, Looking Glass reunited to perform "Brandy" and "Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne" at a concert at Madison Square Garden!
Of course, this New Jersey band lives on, thanks to the enduring popularity of their biggest hit!
Along with the new prominence, thanks to "Guardians Of The Galaxy 2:"
In 2000, "Brandy" was featured on the soundtrack of the "Charlie's Angels" movie. Plus, the movies "Lords Of Dogtown," "Say Anything" and "Real Genius."
"Brandy" was used as a karaoke song on the TV show "King Of Queens."
It was also used in an early "Simpsons" episode!
Where are the guys from Looking Glass now?
Elliott Lurie worked for years as an independent film supervisor, and an executive vice president for music at 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles. He's now "semi-retired."
At last check, Larry Gonsky teaches music in the Morristown Schools.
After drumming with the hard rock band "Starz," Jeff Grob went back to school for a landscape architecture degree. He has contributed to road design around New Jersey!
Pieter Sweval also played with "Starz," and the disco band "Skatt Bros." He died of AIDS in 1992.
What kind of money, and new recognition, will come to the guys from Looking Glass, thanks to being included in the new "Galaxy" movie? Who knows...but: each of the band members (and Sweval's estate) got $30,000 from the 2000 "Charlie's Angels" movie.
They also earn about $4,000 a year for the "general use" of the song.
After all, as New Jersey 101.5 Program Director Eric Johnson says, "Brandy" is "one of New Jersey 101.5's most played songs of all time!"
CONGRATULATIONS, Looking Glass!