Nickel Revolution, Candy Floss and the Oscar Crunch Story

Posted: March 24, 2012 in 1968

Candy Floss was the brainchild of Peter Steinberg and Dale Menten, a short-lived production company with a goal of transforming Twin Cites (Minneapolis-St. Paul,Minnesota) bands into national recording acts. There were small hints of success, but the operation quickly failed as the bands involved and managed by Candy Floss abandoned the company, thereby cutting off their funding.

 

In the fall of 1967, Peter and Dale took the Candy Floss concept to Dick Shapiro of Central Booking Alliance Agency, one of the premier local booking agencies, to make an exclusive offer for Central’s top acts. Standard agency commission was 10%. The Candy Floss offer was for the bands to pay another 10%. In return, Candy Floss they guarantee studio time and produce recordings for the CBA bands as well as develop the bands sound and stage performance. Dick Shapiro rallied the leaders of his bands to come to his office on a Saturday morning and hear the pitch. The band leaders took the information back to their groups, discussed it and most groups signed a Candy Floss agreement, including the Nickel Revolution.

Early 1968 Nickel Revolution members, Ron “Honeybear” Hort (keyboards), Kent Saunders (lead), John Berman (sax), Louie Lenz (rhythm), Scott Jeffy (bass), Jerry Lenz (drums)

The beginning was good for the Nickel Revolution and produced two recordings which we have covered in previous posts: Sweet Sweet Lovin’ and Treat Her Right. 

That was early in 1968 (about February) and the recordings did represent the sound of the band, as the group was doing a lot of R&B songs with a showband type of performance. Again, 1968 being a huge year of change, the Nickel Revolution would quickly adjust its sound and became more of a rock band and began producing its own songs with the addition of Keith Luer on lead guitar and vocals. 

Within weeks of recording Sweet, Sweet Lovin’ and Treat Her Right, Candy Floss brought the Nickel Revolution back into the studio to record a novelty song the Candy Floss team had written, Here Come Da’ Judge based on the popular Laugh In skit. Read about it here: Nickel Revolution Records “Here Come Da’ Judge.

Here is how Candy Floss describes itself today and this is an accurate assessment, “The music of Candy Floss was all about carnivals, calliopes, tight harmonies, and hope. The songs were whimsical, not edgy; its instrumental attitudes were fun, not angry.”

 One of the main reasons the Nickel Revolution joined other CBA bands in signing with Candy Floss was Dale Menten’s involvement. Dale was one of the most respected musicians and bandleaders in the Midwest and had recording success with his group, The Gestures. Here is their hit: Run, Run, Run.

Dale was very involved at the beginning had a great musical sense and had a solid understanding of promotion and building a winning band. Peter Steinberg was a self-described book author that had turned to music (he was not a musician) and he partnered with young writers who were in a non-performing band, The Shambles and Puddle. Dale Menten was always filling the void left by the others and the partnership was a ship that didn’t sail long. Three days after the Connie Awards in May, 1968 Menten and Steinberg dissolved the partnership. The Nickel Revolution was stuck in the middle on this one as they were assigned the new “award-winning” Oscar Crunch.

 Photo from Connie’s Insider: Honeybear, Louie, Scott and Jerry attending the May 1968 Connie Awards

 

You can see an interesting note on this page (enlarged below) where Peter Steinberg is writing Jerry a note saying, “more papers (Mercury Contract) need to be signed tonight and because some members are under 21, the papers must go to probate court (make it legal).

The Connie Awards landed The Nickel Revolution on the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune, pictured with Peter Steinberg

The Oscar Crunch Story

This is based on Jerry Lenz’s opinion as he spent 25+ years working in the record industry and looking back on the Candy Floss debacle, it is easy to recognize how his band had a “hit” record—especially considering the song was very poor quality from a writing and production standpoint. Don’t be offended if you like the song—it’s OK, a lot of people do. What is important here is to publish the real story of Oscar as an ongoing education for young people getting into the music business.

 

Band line up in May 1968: Scott Jeffy-bass, Keith Luer-lead guitar (standing), Jerry Lenz-drums (center), Louie Lenz-rhythm (standing), Ron “Honeybear” Hort-keyboards (sitting).  

Oscar Crunch was forced upon the Nickel Revolution as Candy Floss Management (Steinberg) needed a band with a following to get the record some traction (airplay) in the local market. The song was written by Peter Steinberg, Gary Paulak and Barry Goldberg. Paulak and Goldberg performed on the record but it couldn’t be a Shambles recording because they couldn’t even get booked into local clubs—no way to promote a non-perforating band. In fact, if you’ve ever wondered about the meaning behind Oscar Crunch, it was based on the collective experiences of the Steinberg-Paulak-Goldberg writing team. Each one was unable to connect with women and they felt odd going out to clubs and not being able to hook up: “Oscar Crunch has gone to join the zoo, yes he’s trying to be a kangaroo.” Oscar Crunch is the pic hit on WDGY (it would be top 5 and perhaps #1 for a week–no one remembers)

Everything you’ve ever read about payola in the music industry and radio probably went into the success of Oscar Crunch—everything from signing with Mercury Records / Phillips Label, winning the Connie Award for Best New Material. It is odd, or at least a little bit funny that Candy Floss won almost ALL the recording awards that year $.)

The Nickel Revolution’s Oscar Crunch was “magically” getting spins (played) on KDWB and WDGY in the Twin Cities. Steinberg forced the band to go into Musicland Record stores and buy every copy in the store…”who’s the guy with the funny nose and glasses buying all those 45s?” It is still very common for “best-selling” book authors today to employ the age-old game of buying your way up the charts. However it works. Distributors order more records from the label and other radio stations see action on a new song in the Twin Cites with a major label involved and the synergy engines kick into overdrive and you have a hit. 

Oscar Crunch was the only novelty, bubblegum song that the Nickel Revolution performed. It did bring them strong regional exposure, an appearance on the Upbeat Television show and having the record played on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Read more HERE

The hit record also multiplied the Nickel Revolutions income as much as five times for appearances and continued all the way to the conclusion of the band. Mercury and Candy Floss never honored their contracts with the Nickel Revolution—and not a single nickel was made. The Nickel Revolution, after consulting with attorneys, simply walked away from the sticky Candy Floss mess in 1968—just as Dale Menten had done earlier that year. 

We welcome your comments and feedback on this blog. You can post here and share this with your friends via Facebook and Twitter (see easy links). If you want to email us any questions or comments: NickelRevolution@gmail.com

 2012 The New Band: The Nickel Blues Band

 See these great websites for further insights to Twin Cities bands from the 50s, 60s, 70s:

 

 

 

http://www.jeanneandersen.net/musichighlights.html

 

 

 

http://minniepaulmusic.com/

If you truly enjoy reading about local and regional rock bands from the 60s, you need to check out this national website: http://60sgaragebands.com/

 

 

 

 

© 2011 © 2012 Jerry Lenz, Lenz Entertainment Group All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Ceri Hebert says:

    I’m proud to say I have a copy of Oscar Crunch in my collection. Always loved that song!

  2. Dennis Keating says:

    Thank you for bringing back memories

  3. Rick Ballot says:

    Jerry Lenz – How have you been?
    DROP ME A LINE IF YOU GET THIS.

    Rick Ballot – Hot Half Dozen.
    Your slideshow production buddy at K-tel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s