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Gary Puckett & The Union Gap

During the late '60s -- a period forever distinguished as rock's most radical, innovative, and far-reaching -- Gary Puckett and the Union Gap forged a series of massive chart ballads almost otherworldly in their sheer earnestness and melodrama. Likely the only pop band of the era to play two nightly shows in the Catskills -- the early gig for their younger fans, the later appearance for the fans' parents -- the group pioneered the hip-to-be-square concept two decades before spiritual descendants Huey Lewis and the News; clad in Civil War-era get-ups (complete with fictitious military ranks) and bizarrely pedophilic lyrics, Puckett and the Union Gap were in their own way as far-out and singular as any other act of the period.

Frontman Puckett was born October 17, 1942, in of all places Hibbing, MN, (where Bob Dylan went to high school). Raised primarily in Yakima, WA, he picked up the guitar as a teen, and while attending college in San Diego played in a number of local bands before quitting school to focus on music. Puckett eventually landed with the Outcasts, a hard rock group comprised of bassist Kerry Chater, keyboardist Gary "Mutha" Withem, tenor saxophonist Dwight Bement, and drummer Paul Wheatbread. Despite earning a strong local following, in 1966 Wheatbread relocated to Los Angeles to serve as the house drummer on the television series Where the Action Is; the remaining members of the Outcasts toured the Pacific Northwest, and on their return, Wheatbread also moved back to San Diego and rejoined the lineup. For reasons unknown, manager Dick Badger -- convinced his charges needed a strong visual hook -- then sent the group to Tijuana, where they were outfitted with Union Army-style Civil War uniforms.

A demo was soon cut in L.A., and Badger arranged a meeting with CBS producer Jerry Fuller. Though impressed by Puckett's soaring baritone, Fuller believed the band's gritty, R&B-influenced approach was all wrong, but agreed to check out their live show at the San Diego bowling alley the Quad Room. Believing Fuller was due to arrive on Saturday, the Outcasts opted to save their energy, delivering an atypically mellow set on Friday night. Fuller, who was in the crowd for both shows, signed the group contingent on their willingness to foster their latent soft rock leanings. Re-christened the Union Gap in honor of a suburb of Yakima, on August 16, 1967, the band recorded its first single, "Woman Woman." Suggesting a mellower Righteous Brothers sans producer Phil Spector's majestic firepower, the single reached the Top Ten late in 1967 and was a million-seller by February of 1968; concurrent CBS press releases gave each member his own imaginary military rank -- Puckett was the general, Bement the sergeant, Chater the corporal, and both Withem and Wheatbread were relegated to privates.

In the spring of 1968, the Union Gap scored their biggest hit, "Young Girl," written by Fuller in the style of "Woman, Woman," but exchanging the age-old theme of infidelity for the age-old theme of the temptation of underage romance: "My love for you is way out of line/you better run, girl, you're much too young, girl," an anguished Puckett wailed. The juggernaut rolled on, and the group continued rattling off hits -- "Lady Willpower," "Over You," and "Don't Give in to Him" among them -- and also headlined at the White House and Disneyland. But there was dissension in the ranks: the Union Gap wanted to write and produce their own material, and Puckett found himself increasingly confined within the CBS-mandated ballad formula. In 1969, stalemate: Fuller assembled a 40-piece studio orchestra for a new song he had written, but Puckett and the Union Gap refused to cut the tune. The session was ultimately canceled, and Fuller never again worked with the group. For the Union Gap, it was a pyrrhic victory.

The band immediately returned to the Top Ten that autumn with the Dick Glasser-produced "This Girl Is a Woman Now," but it was to be their last hit. The follow-up, "Let's Give Adam and Eve Another Chance," tanked, and after management dictated that Puckett's bandmates now receive a weekly salary instead of a percentage of the revenue, Chater and Withem left the band. Bement assumed bass duties, keyboardist Barry McCoy and horn player Richard Gabriel were added, and gospel vocalists the Eddie Kendrick Singers also signed on. The Civil War gear was soon jettisoned, but even so, prospects did not improve. In 1970, Puckett began recording as a solo act, but his efforts were not well-received; the Union Gap remained his live backing unit, until they were dismissed following an appearance at the 1971 Orange County Fair. Puckett's contract with CBS was terminated one year later.

Puckett continued making solo appearances in the months to come, but by 1973 he had essentially disappeared from music, opting instead to study acting and dance. He performed in theatrical productions in and around L.A., but his acting career never really took off, and in 1984 he signed on with the Happy Together oldies package tour. Two years later, Puckett was tapped to open for the Monkees on their 20th Anniversary tour, and he remained a staple of the revival circuit into the next century. Among his original bandmates, Bement later joined the oldies act Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids, while Chater relocated to Nashville, where he plied his trade as a songwriter. Wheatbread, meanwhile, turned to concert promotion, and Withem returned to San Diego to teach high-school band. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Woman Woman

1. Woman, Woman

2. M' Lady

3. By The Time I Get To Phoenix

4. Paindrops

5. Believe Me

6. I Want A New Day

7. You Better Sit Down Kids

8. Kentucky Woman

9. My Son

10. To Love Somebody

11. Don't Make Promises

x

Track List: Gary Puckett & The Union Gap Featuring Young Girl / Incredible

1. Young Girl

2. Lady Madonna

3. Kiss Me Goodbye

4. The Pleasure Of You

5. Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife

6. I'm Losing You

7. Honey (I Miss You)

8. The Mighty Quinn

9. Wait Till The Sun Shines On You

10. (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone

11. Say You Don't Need Me

12. Over You

13. Now And Then

14. I'm Just A Man

15. The Common Cold

16. Can You Tell

17. If The Day Would Come

18. Lady Willpower

20. Give In

21. Take Your Pleasure

22. I've Done All I Can

23. Woman, Woman

x

Track List: Young Girl: The Best Of Gary Puckett & The Union Gap

1. Woman, Woman

2. Young Girl

3. Lady Willpower

4. Daylight Stranger

5. Over You

6. Could I

7. Don't Give In To Him

8. Looking Glass

9. This Girl Is A Woman Now

10. Let's Give Adam And Eve Another Chance

11. I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself

12. Keep The Customer Satisfied

14. Gentle Woman

x

Track List: Greatest Hits

1. Woman, Woman

2. Let's Give Adam & Eve Another Chance

3. To Love Somebody

4. Young Girl

6. Kentucky Woman

7. This Girl Is A Woman Now

8. Over You

9. Could I

10. Daylight Stranger

Comments

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I can't believe that you think that they were pedophiles, in the 60's young girls could be referred to 16 to 18, seems like today, if a girl hasn't given it up by 12, they are considered a prude. Picture the times.
I lived in the 60's
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Gary puckett. I really love this group and ALL their songs.
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love em
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Everbody loves The. Four Tops
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hlore58
Brett Badger-
Cool!

I remember back then we went to a roller skating rink regularly (yeah) and this song always played as a hit back then. Puckett had a rich voice.
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Always at the top of my list.
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I really like this group one of my top 5
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michaelrocks 6 8
Paean to pedophiles.. . . n a h , no thanks.
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For my Baby Harley Man...I have no will power It's now
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I've got that "Come on" look in my eyes...❤ SAHM
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I'm old enough....I' l l never let you go baby❤
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Young girl this song brings back memories. First time I heard it I was nine years old in my pajamas in my living room. My uncle Dick was the producer manager of this album and brought it by the house on a real to Real. He wanted to know what my dad thought of this sound. He was a country Johnny Cash type of guy. Me and my two older brothers love the sound and the rest was history!
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Young girl get out of my mind!
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This song brings back so many family memories. My uncle Dick was the producer and manager for this album. If you get a chance read the bio from this song. :)
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I plead insanity your Honor. I'm crazy about that young girl...
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That's how I felt at summer camp I had a crush on a camp counselor Jeff at college settlement camp.
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Also this and other songs have very sad Vietnam War time reminders. Are hearts are with you all out there always.
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Very cool good memory song from the era. A nice soaring composition
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My older brother ran away from home. I remember listening to this song from his bedroom door. He once told me not to tell mom where he was at when I saw him on the street. Never did. He's back in the family happy to say.
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My uncle was the first manager of his band!
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Met Gary Puckett in 1968 in my parents living room.
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robinsnestx1 5 h o m e
I always liked them but I did suspect someone got too friendly with a young girl at some point.
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robinsnestx1 5 h o m e
I always liked them but I did suspect someone got too friendly with a young girl at some.....
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myerspercuss i o n
Saw Gary live once in a Oldies show. He bemoaned the fact that he couldn't sing as well as his idol, Elvis. Bullpoop. Gary's intonation, timbre and sonority were and are so much more ear-pleasing than the King's. Get over it, Gary. You are brilliant!
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Great
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Classic lyricist...a little strange at times...(sli g h t l y pedophilic innuendos) but great nonetheless!
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Beautiful! Powerful! Love this awesome song!
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I like the words in your songs beautiful sound.
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Year1968 or 1969 high school gym seen them they were great I'm 64 now
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Met Gary Puckett & The Union Gap along with The Beach Boys backstage at a concert in Salina, Kansas, when I was 15....I'm now 62 and still LOVE The Union Gap!! Forever Young!!
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hoppytime
pure beautiful music.....
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Young girl, nice one GARY!!!!!
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Memories, & great ones! Part of my youth
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Against my better judgment, I always liked the Union Gap. The bio has the great analysis: a series of massive chart ballads almost otherworldly in their sheer earnestness and melodrama. I could do without This Girl is a Woman Now, but Woman, Woman remains a great song...I hate to have to say it, but that look's all over you.---well written, and classic!
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ikeyhooper
Love it great music great times.
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Immediately after I got off active duty in the Marines, I began carrying mail in Chula Vista, CA. That was in '68. Two of the households I delivered to were the Pucketts and the Bements. I enjoyed talking to Dwight's wife as the band was on the road all the time. Great memories.
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I love that song Over You
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freak33460
gary puckett was one horny dude. always singin about sex ...
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this is one of the best groups of its time
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I have loved this group since I first seen them in the 60's. They are my go-to on my pandora !!!!
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I. lOVE that song they just don't make songs like that any more
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Chuckollinge r @ g m a i l
Saved my sanity / life during a lousy war!
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I LOVE THIS SONG KEARTH USE TO PLAY ALL THESE SONGS I WAS 12 YRS OLD NOW I'M 58 NEVER GETS OLD
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I currently live in Yakima WA and whenever I go to Union Gap (which has basically become the main shopping district of the Yakima area) I always think of this band and great songs. Interesting that they were basically forced to become a softer act than the planned on being...that turned out to be a smart move.
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Dude was pretty horny.
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Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you have started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works
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Great vocal range. On equal to Roy Orbison & Johnny Maestro of the Brooklyn Bridge for powerful full range powerful vocals. Love GP & union Gap.
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verry good voice, (gary Puckett)
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Love the oldies bring back good memories
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gary pucket had a range unmatched by any other artist in his day, and the songs are timeless.... .
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