Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

DR HOOK and the MEDICINE SHOW

Rock/pop band formed in New Jersey in 1968. Lineup: Ray Sawyer (b 1 February 1937), vocals; Dennis Locorriere (b 13 June 1948), vocals, guitar; Bill Francis (b 16 January 1942), keyboards; George Cummings (b 28 July 1938), pedal steel; John David (b 8 August 1942), drums; later joined by Richard Elswit (b 6 July 1945), guitar; Jance Garfat (b 3 March 1944), bass; John Walters, drums (replaced David '73); Bob 'Willard' Henke, guitar. Bob Gibson told Arthur Wood in 1986 that cartoonist Shell Silverstein had 'constructed' Dr Hook because because 'he was writing all that great stuff and had nowhere to go with it. Nobody in Nashville was recording that kind of stuff.'

A manager got them a gig playing Silverstein's 'Last Morning' in the film Who Is Harry Kellerman And Why Is He Saying All Those Terrible Things About Me? '71; LP Dr Hook And The Medicine Show same year revealed satirists too subtle for the pop charts: Silverstein intended 'Sylvia's Mother' to be a send-up of country music, but listeners took it straight and made it a hit (no. 5 USA/2 UK). Frontman Sawyer had lost an eye in a car crash and wore an eye patch; the stage act got the zaniness across while Silverstein also wrote 'Roland The Roadie And Gertrude The Groupie', '(Freakin' At) The Freaker's Ball' etc, and also wrote ballads: 'Queen Of The Silver Dollar' was covered by Emmylou Harris; 'Ballad Of Lucy Jordan' by Marianne Faithfull. Sloppy Seconds '72 included the Silverstein title track, also 'The Cover Of ''Rolling Stone'' ' (no. 6 USA '72; this got them the cover of Rolling Stone but was banned by the BBC, regarded as advertising, so they made limited edition 'Cover Of ''The Radio Times'' ', referring to the BBC's weekly inhouse programme guide.) Belly Up '73 was followed by Fried Face '74; Ballad Of Lucy Jordan '75 was a best-of, with Silverstein's best songs.

They filed for bankruptcy and switched from Columbia to Capitol for Bankrupt '75, by now performing more of their own songs. A Little Bit More '76 included a no. 11 hit title track and a cover of Sam Cooke's 'Only Sixteen' at no. 6; they began a transition from crazy rebels to smooth disco balladeers, but were still loony on stage. Sawyer left in 1980; by then Silverstein had stopped writing for them. Other albums included Street People and Revisited, both on Columbia '77; Makin' Love And Music '77, Pleasure And Pain '78, Sometimes You Win '79, Greatest Hits '80 on Capitol; Rising '80 and Players In The Dark '81 on Casablanca.