27. THE GIANT SUNFLOWER - FEBRUARY SUNSHINE - an update from group member Margo Phillips


THE GIANT SUNFLOWER - "February Sunshine" / "More Sunshine" (Take 6 -1000) May 1967

One of the most intriguing releases of 1967 was 'February Sunshine' by The Giant Sunflower. This folk rock song was written by Pat Vegas and Val Garay, two musicians based in Hollywood. The hot new sound in Los Angeles at this time was pleasant laid back sunshine rock with the groups often fronted by a good lookin' flower chick with long hair and love beads.

'February Sunshine' has that pure L.A. sunshine sound and is just perfect '67 fodder for the radio. The song was recorded by studio musicians and released on Take 6 Inc with the non-existent group name of The Giant Sunflower.

The recording was quickly snapped up by Lou Adler's Ode label who got the song re-recorded. Out of interest The Rose Garden also recorded 'February Sunshine' at Gold Star Studios, Hollywood and their version can be found on their album.

The new recording of 'February Sunshine' was then released on Ode in USA. Lou Adler had a deal with Columbia Records to distribute his Ode product in other countries around the world.

John Noreen from The Blokes/The Rose Garden confirms that Charlie Greene and Brian Stone, who were managing Sonny & Cher, became involved with his group and got them the deal to act as The Giant Sunflower for promotional purposes and the odd gig because the record was receiving lots of airplay and Ode needed a group to go with the record.

*** to add to a confusing and somewhat conflicting story, Patti Phillips aka Margo left a message on the old G45 Central site stating that she was a member of the original Giant Sunflower along with Val Garay, Terry Clements, Eddie Hoh and Rick Dey. The latter was previously a member of The Wilde Knights and wrote 'Just Like Me' which was recorded by Paul Revere and the Raiders who had a huge hit with it.

During the month of July 2015 I was in contact with Margo Phillips via email who kindly sent me information about The Giant Sunflower as well as some clippings published in a teen magazine during 1967.

Margo:
The Giant  Sunflower was a real band and we  performed live. Val Garay (who co-wrote February  Sunshine  with Pat Vega) put the  band  together. Val (rhythm  guitar, vocals), Terry  Clements  (lead guitar, vocals) me (vocals), Eddie Hoh (drums) & Ric  Dey (bass).

Eddie  was also the drummer for  The  Mamas  &  Papas  at the  same  time. I think  that's  how  we ended  up  at  Lou Adler ' s house to audition. Lou was sitting  on  his  couch with two of The  Mamas  &  Papas--Denny & Cass. Val, Terry  and I  sat on the  floor  and sang a song or two. Lou decided to  produce  us and signed  the band (all five of us) to his  new label, Ode Records, part of the Columbia  Records conglomerate.

We performed often at The Whisky (a Go Go) on the Sunset  Strip  in Hollywood. Lou was co-owner of  the  club (with  Elmer  Valentine) so he booked  us there  as the opening  act for Van Morrison & Them, Eric  Burden & The  Animals, Steppenwolf.

We also did a concert  with  The  Buffalo  Springfield. We were  the opening  act, followed  by  The Moby Grape  and then The Springfield.


concert poster for Buffalo Springfield (featuring Neil Young and Stephen Stills) appearing with the Soul Survivors (Expressway to Your Heart), People and Giant Sunflower at the San Jose (CA) Civic Auditorium on 29th December 1967. 

We performed at some sort of festival  on the Santa  Monica  Pier with The Turtles, Jose  Feliciano, The Leaves or The Grass Roots and The Association (I  think they were there)  and other bands I  don't recall (Val would know).  So don't quote me on that line-up!

Anyway, all this to say, no, we were NOT a studio band.

I  think  I may know  how  that was misconstrued. Lou Adler DID use the hottest studio musicians on both our singles--February  Sunshine  and What's  So  Good  About  Goodbye .  They were known  as  part of the "A-List" called  The  Wrecking  Crew.  We (The Giant Sunflower) were in the studio for all the sessions but Lou only let Terry Clements play with these guys. Val, Terry  and  I  did ALL the vocals.

Your  blog got it right about  the  lawsuit. It killed our first single, February Sunshine--which was on it's  way  up the charts. Our second single, What's  So  Good  About  Goodbye, didn't  have the  same promotional "steam" behind  it. My guess is that I think Columbia lost  its  enthusiasm  about our band after the million dollar  lawsuit. They  didn't  need the legal problems  from a brand-new  group that hadn't  made them any big money yet.  Again, Val Garay may have  more  info  on this.

So, that should  set some  of  the  story  straight. I can go into the band break up.

As for how The Rose Garden took over our band's name and went out performing February  Sunshine-- I have no idea. I joined a Buddhist group (cult?) during that time and disappeared  from the music scene. (I did get "accidentally" signed to  Warner Bros. in 1980s as a solo artist under my married  name, Patti  Fisher. That single was also destined to be a hit but also killed  by dirty music biz politics. Obviously, it was not  my fate to be famous  and ironically, I never wanted to  be. But music is in my blood and in my soul and I was blessed with many experiences with  some most  excellent  musicians.


You can check out a few tunes I wrote & produced (or co-wrote & produced) from the  90s. And a Tracy Chapman  cover in 2009. On YouTube under Margo  Silver  Phillips. I know, I  have lots of names...

Anyway, I hope you  enjoyed the music trivia!

Best regards,

Margo  




"February Sunshine" can be found on 'Highs In The Mid Sixties - Volume 3' - a vinyl comp of 60s recordings from Los Angeles released in the early 80s. 
  
the Giant Sunflower at number #10
 
including members of The Giant Sunflower, Buffalo Springfield, Merry Go Round, Hearts And Flowers,
 
rare Italian CBS release of "February Sunshine" in unique picture sleeve
left to right, standing--Eddie Hoh, Patti Phillips (Aka Margo), Terry  Clements, Rick  Dey. Sitting -- Val Garay.






Canadian release on Columbia Records 




During May 1967, Billboard printed three articles about the conflicting interest between the labels Take 6 and Ode Records which make for fascinating reading.








THE GIANT SUNFLOWER - 'What's So Good About Goodbye'/'Mark Twain' (Ode ZS7-104) October 1967

A follow up 45 by The Giant Sunflower was released some months later in October 1967 and again the record perfectly demonstrated the flower power, sunshine pop moves that Los Angeles was increasingly becoming known for. The record got a mention in Billboard but despite the groovy sound appears to have had little or no impact on the charts.


   

Comments

  1. Nice bright and breezy record, the Giant Sunflower version is superior to the Rose Garden version to these ears. Thanks for the fascinating story to read while I play and re-play this swell record.

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  2. I agree with GaragePunk66 that the Giant Sunflower do a better version
    of this track, but there are a number of better tracks on the Rose
    Garden album (in particular the two
    Gene Clark covers!) Once again Colin many, many thanks

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  3. i dig this song so much ....however i really dig a different take of this better ...it's from pebbles presents: highs in the mid sixties LA 67 vol 2 ...it's a little slower and has some b/u vox that make it a little more groovy but this version is cool too thanks for posting it !

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  4. This is great. Thanks for posting it. It turns out I was in the band that recorded this song. The version where Barry Barnholz was the Manager. He brought the name of the band and the song and asked my band if we would record it with him. It became number 3 in less than a week and then the law suite stopped everything.

    Sven

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  5. Thanks for dropping by sven and adding your comments.

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  6. I was in the actual real & original Giant Sunflower. Val Garay put it together. Val, rhythm guitar , Terry Clements (lead guitar), Rick Dey (bass) & Eddie Hoh (drums). I just wrote a long piece here & it didn't post. I'll be glad to fill in more details later but I'm not re-writing it all again now. Stay tuned... Margo Phillips (aka Patti Phillips) PS Val just posted the official promo photo of The Giant Sunflower on my Facebook page. You can check it out there.

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    Replies
    1. I'd love to know more about The Giant Sunflower. I've been intrigued by the group for some time, eventually tracking down the 45s. Not easy as I live in England but thankfully eBay helped!
      If you'd like to fill in more blanks please email me. contact details below.

      colinlsd1967@msn.com

      Delete

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