“Sugar, Sugar” is a song written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim. It was originally recorded by the virtual band the Archies. This version reached number one in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1969 and remained there for four weeks. It was also number one on the UK Singles chart in that same year for eight weeks. The song became a hit again in 1970 when rhythm and blues and soul singer Wilson Pickett took it back onto the charts.
“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies was produced by Jeff Barry, and the song was originally released on the album Everything’s Archie. The album is the product of a group of studio musicians managed by Don Kirshner. Ron Dante’s lead vocals were accompanied by those of Toni Wine and Andy Kim. Together they provided the voices of the Archies using multitracking. The song was initially released in late May 1969, on the Calendar label (the same label as the two previous Archies singles), achieving moderate chart success in the early summer in some radio markets, and was re-released mid-July 1969, on the Kirshner label, when it then attained massive success nationwide by late summer/early fall.
Upon its initial release, Kirshner had promotion men play it for radio station executives without telling them the name of the group (due to the disappointing chart performance of the Archies’ previous single, “Feelin’ So Good (S.k.o.o.b.y-D.o.o.)”, which only went to number 53 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts). Only after most of the DJs liked the song were they told that it was performed by a cartoon group.
The song is said to have been earlier offered to The Monkees, although songwriters Barry and Kim deny this. Kirshner has said that Mike Nesmith put his fist through the wall of the Beverly Hills Hotel refusing to do “Sugar, Sugar”. However, the fist incident took place in early 1967 and “Sugar, Sugar” was written in early 1969.
A week after topping the RPM 100 national singles chart in Canada on September 13, 1969 (where it spent three weeks), it went on to spend four weeks at the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 from September 20. It spent a total of 22 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 and was the 1969 US number-one single of the year. It was classified by the RIAA as a gold record in August 1969, meaning it sold 1 million units (the gold threshold was later lowered to 500,000). It is ranked at number 78 on Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Singles.
It also spent eight weeks at the top of the UK singles chart and peaked at #1 in the South African Singles Chart. On February 5, 2006, “Sugar, Sugar” was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, as co-writer Andy Kim is originally from Montreal, Quebec.
Although official music recording sales certifications were not introduced in the United Kingdom until the British Phonographic Industry was formed in 1973, Disc introduced an initiative in 1959 to present a gold record to singles that sold over one million units. The awards relied on record companies correctly compiling and supplying sales information, and “Sugar, Sugar” was erroneously awarded a gold disc in January 1970 having sold approximately 945,000 copies; the RCA informed Disc that one million copies had been shipped, however not all were sold. Nevertheless, following the introduction of music downloads in 2004, “Sugar, Sugar” passed the one-million sales mark.
Ron Frangipane – keyboards
Gary Chester – drums
Joe Mack AKA Joey Macho – bass
Dave Appell – guitar
Sal DiTroia – guitar
Andy Kim – guitar
Ray Stevens – handclaps
In 1970, American singer Wilson Pickett recorded a cover version of “Sugar, Sugar” in his Criteria Studios sessions. Pickett’s rendition of the song was produced by Dave Crawford, Jerry Wexler, Rick Hall, and Tom Dowd. The track was released by Atlantic Records as the second single from his tenth studio album Right On.