The Lollipop Shoppe - Biography

The Lollipop Shoppe was an underrated psychedelic rock band that formed as the Weeds in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1965, led by the gifted vocalist, musician and songwriter Fred Cole. Cole is a legendary figure among punks, psych heads and garage rockers, some of whom are more likely to have heard the bands he and his wife Toody have led in the past three decades—The Rats, Dead Moon, and Pierced Arrows—than Cole’s first recordings.

Fred Cole started playing in bands at the age of 13. The first of his bands to release a record was the Lords, formed in Las Vegas, Nevada, where they often played at the Teenbeat Club. The Lords split after releasing their only single “Ain’t Got No Self Respect” (Tell 1964); following the breakup, manager Mike Tell assembled the band Deep Soul Cole and promoted Cole, then 15, as a soul singer. MGM pressed acetates of the “Poverty Shack” single Deep Soul Cole recorded in Los Angeles, but the band ceased to exist after several months.

Cole formed the Weeds with organist Hans Grebner in 1965. Membership was fluid at first and included Teenbeat Club habitués Dennis Wynne and Scott Devitt, but the Weeds’ lineup crystallized later that year with Cole on lead vocals, Ed Bowen on lead guitar and backing vocals, Ron Buzzell on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Bob Atkins on bass and Tom Rockson on drums. The Weeds performed around Las Vegas, playing sets of about half covers and half originals. They recorded the single “It’s Your Time” b/w “Little Girl” (Teenbeat Club 1966) and backed Charlie White Eagle on his “Get Off My Cloud” b/w “Red Roses For A Blue Lady” (1966 Teenbeat Club).

A Las Vegas disc jockey promised the Weeds the opening slot for the Yardbirds’ 1966 engagement at the Fillmore in San Francisco, a promise that turned out to have been false when the Weeds arrived at the venue. Cole told an interviewer from, “We were so disgusted and disappointed we headed for Vancouver but ran out of gas and money in Portland [Oregon].” The Weeds quickly established themselves as a popular live band in Portland and acquired manager Whitey Davis, who owned the Folksinger coffeehouse/venue.

In the spring of 1967, Davis got the Weeds booked as the house band at the Ark in San Francisco, and that summer the band decided to go to Los Angeles in search of a record deal. In L.A., they played one of their songs for KFWB DJ “Lord” Tim Hudson, the Seeds’ manager, and Hudson convinced the band to take him on as their manager in Davis’s place. Shortly thereafter, Hudson also got the band a five-year contract with UNI Records, and against the Weeds’ wishes, he changed their name to the more marketable “The Lollipop Shoppe.”

The hard-edged psychedelic single “You Must Be A Witch” b/w “Don’t Close The Door On Me” (1968 UNI) and the album Just Colour (1968 UNI), recorded in one day at RCA Victor & Western Studios in L.A., were the first records issued under the band’s new name. The Lollipop Shoppe toured the West Coast and opened for the Doors, Moby Grape, Buffalo Springfield, and other top psychedelic bands of the period. They appeared briefly in the low-budget motorcycle-gang drama Angels from Hell (1968). The relationship between The Lollipop Shoppe and their manager and record label deteriorated, and the band ceased to exist somewhere around the time of their last release, “Someone I Know” b/w “Through My Window” (1969 Shamley). Cole and Buzzell recorded and played out as the acoustic duo Underground Railroad, and Cole, Bowen and drummer Dominic Davis recorded “Stop” b/w “No Good News” (1971 NWI) as the Weeds.

Fred met his wife Toody Cole in Portland shortly after the Weeds arrived there in 1966. They have been married since 1967. Fred and Toody raised a family in the 70s, moving briefly to the Yukon before settling in Clackamas, Oregon, where they opened Captain Whizeagle’s musical instrument store and Fred formed the band Zipper. Fred and Toody started playing together—Fred on guitar and vocals, Toody on bass and vocals—in the great punk band the Rats, who self-released three albums in the early 80s. Their next band was the equally great and beloved Dead Moon, who toured the world and released numerous classic records between 1988 and their breakup in 2006. Fred and Toody continue to tour and record in their current band, Pierced Arrows.

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