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I Want Candy by The Strangeloves

Album: I Want CandyReleased: 1965Charted:
11
  • This was originally recorded in 1965 by a group called The Strangeloves. The group was actually three producers from New York - Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer - who put this song together and made up a story about the band. They claimed to be from Australia, and said they were shepherds who got rich by crossbreeding sheep. The story made them sound much more exotic than the truth, and this hit #11 in the US.
  • When The Strangeloves recorded this, it started out as a cover of the song "Bo Diddley." They made it into an original with the help of songwriter Bert Berns, who wrote "Twist And Shout" as well as songs for The Drifters and Van Morrison. The distinctive Bo Diddley beat remained the focus of the song. Writing credits on the song go to Berns and the three members of The Strangeloves.
  • Lyrical inspiration for the song came from the 1958 book Candy by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg. The book is about a young naif who has a series of adventures with older men.
  • The three Strangeloves producers (Bob Feldman, Richard Gottehrer and Jerry Goldstein) all sang on this track. The session musicians who played on it were:

    Eric Gale - guitar
    John Shine - bass
    Herb Lovelle - drums
    Richie Lauro - saxophone
  • A generation after this song was first released, it became a hit once again (#62 US, #9 UK) when it was released by the band Bow Wow Wow on their 1982 album The Last of the Mohicans (a reference to the Mohawk hairstyles the band wore). Bow Wow Wow was put together by Malcolm McLaren, who is famous for creating The Sex Pistols. The lead singer was Annabelle Lwin, who came to England from Burma when she was five years old. When McLaren discovered her, she was 14 and working in a dry cleaner. She had the look he wanted, so he teamed her with former members of Adam And The Ants to form the band.

    Bow Wow Wow came across the song when producer Kenny Laguna was brought in to work with them. Laguna had recently helped Joan Jett establish herself as a solo artist and wanted to concentrate on working with her, but Joan thought he should do it, so Kenny agreed to produce their album. Laguna told us: "I went to Florida and they flew Bow Wow Wow from England. They had some great songs, but I didn't hear the hit. That pissed them off. My deal was, I would produce them, but I would bring one song to the table. I had a couple of ideas, I finally talked them into doing 'I Want Candy.'"

    After talking Bow Wow Wow into recording the track, Laguna realized he didn't have a copy of the song and didn't know the lyrics. There was no easy way to get the original song (this was before the Internet), so he called a friend who got him in touch with Richard Gottehrer, one of the producers who wrote and recorded this with The Strangeloves. Richard was cutting the song "Vacation" with The Go-Go's when Kenny called him. Kenny explained that he was in a bind and asked Richard if he remembered "I Want Candy," and fortunately, he remembered every word and helped Kenny through the song by singing the melody over the phone. Said Kenny, "I learned the song, then I took what I had gotten over the telephone and I recorded it on a little tape recorder. Then I went in the studio and taught it to the band Bow Wow Wow. We cut it and learned it right on the spot. I've never compared it to the original."

    Laguna almost left out the guitar part that makes up the intro of the song because he couldn't remember it. After completing the basic track without the guitar, he called back Gottehrer, who sang him the guitar part and made sure Kenny knew it was a very important part of the song.
  • This song is a classic gender-bender, with hit versions by male and female lead singers. Since it was originally written for a male singer, Bow Wow Wow had to change the gender. It became "I know a guy who's tough but sweet."

    When he worked with Joan Jett, Kenny Laguna had her switch the gender on songs like "I Love Rock And Roll" and "Do You Wanna Touch Me," which were previously recorded with male singers.
  • With the mesmerizing Annabelle Lwin fronting the band, Bow Wow Wow was video-ready, and their version of this song got significant airplay on MTV, which launched a year earlier. The clip was directed by Steve Kahn, who also did the Run-DMC video for "Rock Box."
  • In the UK, The Strangeloves version didn't chart, but Brian Poole & The Tremeloes took it to #25 in 1965.
  • The photo used on the Bow Wow Wow single was a recreation of Manet's 1863 painting "Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe" (Lunch on the Grass). The photo was taken when Annabelle Lwin was 15, which caused some controversy because she was naked. Malcolm McLaren wanted to use the photo on their first album, but Lwin's mother brought charges against him for exploiting a minor. For the US version of the cover, Lwin was wearing a dress in the photo.
  • The Bow Wow Wow cover turned out to be their only hit. The following year, they released a hitless album called When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going, which was produced by Mike Chapman instead of Kenny Laguna, who continued working with Joan Jett. Said Kenny, "I didn't get to do the next record, they were angry with me for bringing them a bubblegum song."

    When the going got tough, lead singer Annabella Lwin left for a solo career and the remaining members changed their name to Chiefs Of Relief.
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Comments: 10

On June 20th 1965, "I Want Candy" by the Strangeloves entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #69; and on August 8th it peaked at #11 (for 1 weeks) and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
The trio had three other Top 100 records; "Cara-Lin" (#39 in 1965), "Night Time" (#39 in 1965), and "Hand Jive" (#100 in 1966).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Richard Gottehrer (one of the songwriters behind "I Want Candy", and a member of The Strangeloves) recently did a segment called "Cover Story" by Limelight (www.songclearance.com). In it, he talks about why they chose to "Aussies" for purposes of the record. Really funny story.

The video is on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPNL6ICpHg8).
Alex - New York, Ny
I only know Aaron Carter's version of this song..never heard of Bow Wow's version!Krista - Carbondale, Pa
bow wow wow were a new wave band in the early 80's whose first single c30 c60 c90 go was the first record released on cassingle (cassette) to you and me,they had one other uk top 10 hit with go wild in the country peaking at #7 in 1982 annabella l'wins real name is myant myant awe and she was born in burmaJeff - Liverpool, England
Casie - Bow Wow Wow were a New Wave band of the 1970s/1980s - nothing to do with rapper (Lil) Bow Wow. Aaron Carter did cover this in 1998 thoughDave - Cardiff, Wales
I love you!!!Tyler - Tempe, Az
this song is almost as annoying as Barbie Girl!!!!Caitlin - Upper Township, Nj
Yeah, steph, they're singing about war. It's an anti-war song, according to VH1.Rachel - Anchorage, Ak
The song was recorded originally by a group called the Strangeloves in 1965. It's not the best song in the world, but the original is better I think. The lead vocal on this version was done by a guy so obviously the lyrics are different on this version. Some of this info is in the songfacts above.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
I thought this song was sang by Aaron Carter but Lil Bow Wow? Or who is it Bow Wow Wows? Never heard of him.Casie - Denver, Co