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Album: 1, 2, 3, Red LightReleased: 1968Charted:
1, 2, 3, Red Light is a children's game also known as "Red Light, Green Light." There's not much to it: when a caller says "Green Light" the kids can run, and "Red Light" means they have to stop. In this song, the singer keeps getting the "Red Light" from his girl, which he finds frustrating.
The 1910 Fruitgum Company was one of the most popular Bubblegum groups of the '60s. These groups were usually guided by producers who molded their sound and image. 1910 Fruitgum Company was managed by Jeff Katz and Jerry Kasenetz, who worked with Buddah Records. Earlier in 1968, The 1910 Fruitgum Company had their first hit with "Simon Says
," and from there, Katz and Kasenetz had the group record a series of songs based on children's games, including this one.
Floyd Marcus, who is the drummer in the 1910 Fruitgum Company, told us this story: "The guy who sang the first song, Mark (Gutkowski), was the youngest of us, and the easiest to manipulate. We were on the road at a radio station, and the jock turned around to us and said, 'What about your new record, '1, 2, 3 Red Light?'' and we all kind of looked at each other, except for Mark. We really didn't have any knowledge of the record at that time. So we got through the interview, and then we found out that Jeff and Jerry had done the record, and Mark had already done the vocals. We were on the road, and it was a lot easier for Jeff and Jerry to keep us out there. We were earning money and promoting the 1910 Fruitgum Company, it was really doing pretty well. So Jeff and Jerry really had no reason to pull us in. But we were a bunch of young, cocky guys. We were a lot better musicians than people knew. And so when we found out about the record, we learned it on the road. And we started performing it. They had a group - most of the guys were from The Tradewinds, and they already had a record out. And they started forming their own little in-house thing. That's where the story of these studio musicians having done all the Bubblegum came from. It wasn't really true in our case, or in Joey Levine's case with Ohio Express, or even in the case of The Music Explosion. They were all real bands, and they all had talent. But somehow there was this myth of lies that all this Bubblegum stuff was done by studio guys."
Floyd Marcus: "There's that whole story about '1, 2, 3 Red Light' being this underlying date rape song. But you know, that just goes along with people wanting to make more out of things than they really are. I mean, it's like saying when John Lennon said 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
' wasn't about LSD, or "Little Susie's Dream" by The Tradewinds, because of the initials, LSD, people read into those things. Hey, it's good for promo. People often want to give more meaning to things than they really have." (Check out our interview with Floyd Marcus
Talking Heads played this at many of their early shows. A version can be found on their album Gimme Heads.