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The Yellow Balloon

"Yellow Balloon/Noollab Wolley"

Canterbury Records 508 1967

The Yellow Balloon

"Good Feeling Time/I've Got a Feeling for Love"

Canterbury Records 513 1967

The Yellow Balloon

"Stained Glass Window/Can't Get Enough Of Your Love"

Canterbury Records 516 1967

Tucson is tied to '60s sunshine pop and the My Three Sons TV show via the short-lived L.A.-area group The Yellow Balloon, the brainchild of producer and songwriter Gary Zekley. Dissatisfied with the Dean Torrence (Jan and Dean) recording of his composition "Yellow Balloon," Zekely set out to record the song himself, using top L.A. studio musicians for the session. Released under the group name The Yellow Balloon by Canterbury Records (which had some success with former Mouseketeer, then-My Three Sons star Don Grady & The Windupwatchband's "Children of St. Monica" 45 in late '66), Zekley's record began climbing charts in the spring of '67, creating the need for a live group. Don Grady was recruited as the drummer; he would appear under the name Luke R. Yoo and would perform in hat, wig and glasses to hide his true identity. Grady had previously asked a DJ if he knew any players for his Windupwatchband, and was connected with a pair of Tucson musicians, vocalist Alex Valdez and guitarist Paul Canella, who were in The Five of Us. They auditioned for Grady's group and returned to Tucson, but were called back to join The Yellow Balloon. A pair of musicians from Oregon completed the lineup and the group was off and running, performing live shows and TV programs such as American Bandstand, Upbeat, Shebang, Shivaree and many others. Two more 45s were released but didn't chart. The group also released a full-length LP, which at the time wasn't a big seller and these days is quite hard to find, but is now considered a sunshine pop classic. Sundazed reissued the LP in 1998 from pristine vinyl as the master tapes could not be found. The CD also includes all of Grady's Canterbury sides.

Lee Joseph grew up in Tucson. He's a DJ (Luxuriamusic.com), marketer of cool shit (Reverberations Media) and founder/CEO of internationally respected Dionysus Records, an indie that has long specialized in releasing super-rare music, and more. He came of age in the first wave of Tucson punk rock and is an expert on Tucson music. He now lives in California. Vintage Vinyl is a recurring column in the Tucson Weekly.

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