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Crabby Appleton

Known for their intense, swirling proto-power-pop single "Go Back" -- a Top 40 single in 1970 -- Crabby Appleton demonstrated a keen ear for pop/rock trends of the post-hippie era on the two albums they released on Elektra in the early 1970s. Led by Michael Fennelly, a singer/guitarist who spent time in Curt Boettcher's the Millennium, Crabby Appleton seemed poised for a breakthrough after "Go Back," which not only climbed the charts but helped the band receive rave reviews from Lester Bangs; he'd also praise their second album, Rotten to the Core, as would Dave Marsh. Poor record distribution and internal strife led the band to split in 1972. Fennelly formed Crabby Appleton not long after leaving the Millennium. While he was shopping an acoustic demo to Los Angeles record labels, he met a bluesy hard rock outfit called Stonehenge at the Sunset Strip club Thee Experience. Everything quickly fell together: Elektra offered Fennelly a contract and he recruited keyboardist Casey Foutz, bassist Hank Harvey, drummer Phil Jones, and percussionist Felix "Flaco" Falcon -- all members of Stonehenge -- to form a band. Taking their name from the villain in Tom Terrific, a cartoon that aired during the Captain Kangaroo Show, Crabby Appleton entered the studio with producer Don Gallucci and cut their eponymous debut album. Crabby Appleton appeared in 1970 and "Go Back" climbed the charts, reaching number 36 on Billboard on the heels of the band promoting the single on American Bandstand and opening for the likes of the Guess Who and the Doors. The group quickly knocked out a second album, Rotten to the Core -- the title was the catch phrase of Tom Terrific's villainous cartoon character -- and while it received positive reviews, the group collapsed due to a combination of Elektra's underpromotion and internal problems. Fennelly retired after a brief solo career, while Jones became a session musician who played with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Waddy Wachtel.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo


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