Jesse Colin Young got his start as a solo act on the folk circuits of Boston and New York and had already cut a couple of unsuccessful albums before deciding to form a band with guitarist Jerry Corbitt. After a failed single called "My Babe", they hired aspiring jazz drummer Joe Bauer and guitarist/pianist Lowell Levinger III, better known simply as "Banana". Young began playing bass when several candidates-- including Felix Pappalardi and Harvey Brooks (later of The Electric Flag)--proved incompatible, and the quartet took the name 'Youngbloods' from the singer's second solo album.
The group was eventually selected as the house band at New York's famed Cafe Au Go Go and established itself as a leading folk rock/good time attraction. Their sound would temper their blues and jugband influences with gentle California psychedelia, particularly after they moved to the San Francisco Bay area.
While Young was always the focal point of the band, their first two albums also had songwriting contributions from Corbitt. Their first single, Grizzly Bear, was a local hit. Their second attempt, Get Together, didn't do much better when it was first released. This Dino Valenti song had previously been recorded by the Jefferson Airplane, but The Youngbloods' slow, soulful interpretation of "Get Together" was definitive. The record faded quickly but suddenly rocketed to the Top 10 when it was re-released in 1969 after being used in a television public service ad. The tune was subsequently adopted as a counterculture anthem.
By that time, Corbitt had left. The Youngbloods, reduced to a trio, were living in Marin County, CA. 1969's Elephant Mountain was produced by country artist Charlie Daniels. Reflecting the mellowing influence of San Francisco psychedelia, it was their best effort, featuring some of Young's best songs. They released a few more albums in the early '70s (some live), but on these, the mellow California rock sound had begun to turn lame and wimpy.
Further albums by Bauer, Levinger and Young were marred by inconsistency. A friend from the Boston days, Michael Kane, joined the band in the spring of 1971, but they split the following year when Young left the band. Levinger, Bauer and Kane continued as Banana And The Bunch, but this occasional venture subsequently folded.
Jesse Colin Young went on to have a long and moderately successful career as a solo singer-songwriter.
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