50 Years Later, The Archies' 'Sugar, Sugar' Is Still 'Really Sweet' Fifty years ago, the song "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The single by the cartoon band would go on to be named 1969's song of the year.
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50 Years Later, The Archies' 'Sugar, Sugar' Is Still 'Really Sweet'

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50 Years Later, The Archies' 'Sugar, Sugar' Is Still 'Really Sweet'

50 Years Later, The Archies' 'Sugar, Sugar' Is Still 'Really Sweet'

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NOEL KING, HOST:

1969 was a transformative year in this country and you can really hear that in the music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AQUARIUS/LET THE SUNSHINE IN")

THE 5TH DIMENSION: (Singing) This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius - age of Aquarius...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYDAY PEOPLE")

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE: (Singing) I am everyday people, yeah...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FORTUNATE SON")

CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL: (Singing) It ain't me. It ain't me. I ain't no fortunate one, no...

KING: NPR's Ashley Westerman has this story about the surprise No. 1 song of 1969.

ASHLEY WESTERMAN, BYLINE: Who knew that the year that produced the Stonewall Riots, a man on the moon and Woodstock would have a No. 1 song like this?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUGAR, SUGAR")

ARCHIES: (Singing) Sugar - oh, honey, honey - you are my candy girl. And you got me wanting you.

WESTERMAN: Yes, that's "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies. It hit No. 1 for the first time on this day in 1969. And it went on to become the overall No. 1 song of that year.

TONI WINE: It was very catchy. It had a great hook. It was very sing-able. And we laughed. We had a good time doing it.

WESTERMAN: Singer-songwriter Toni Wine was one of the real people behind the Archies, a made-up band based on characters from a comic. That comic became an animated TV series and a band cobbled together by legendary music producer Don Kirshner.

WINE: He had already done the Monkees. And the Archies came up. It was a Screen Gems cartoon program. And they needed voices. And he asked me and Ronnie Dante to do those voices.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUGAR, SUGAR")

ARCHIES: (Singing) I'm going to make your life so sweet. Yeah, yeah, yeah...

WESTERMAN: Initially released in May of 1969, "Sugar, Sugar" didn't hit the charts until July. Andy Kim co-wrote the song with Jeff Barry and says, at first, the stations wouldn't play it.

ANDY KIM: I had no idea what was going on except that a lot of people in the know were putting the song and the record down as if it was fluff, it didn't really mean anything. There was no value to it.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE ARCHIES SONG, "SUGAR, SUGAR")

WESTERMAN: But once radio did play it, there was no looking back. The Archies became the first group to hit No. 1 without ever performing live on stage. Its popularity was thanks in part to some genius marketing that slapped the record on the cereal boxes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: On Super Sugar Crisp, get a free Archie record.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYTHING'S ARCHIE")

ARCHIES: (Singing) Everything's Archie...

WESTERMAN: It would also hit No. 1 in countries around the world such as Belgium, South Africa and the U.K.

Again, songwriter Andy Kim.

KIM: I was really, really blown away by the fact that it became record of the year.

WESTERMAN: Over the years, "Sugar, Sugar" has been covered by Tom Jones, Tina Turner and Wilson Pickett.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUGAR, SUGAR")

WILSON PICKETT: (Singing) Sugar - honey, honey...

WESTERMAN: The song also remains a moment of levity for those who lived through the 1960s and '70s, when so much was happening. Andy Kim says, at the time, he didn't understand the magnitude of it all...

KIM: Until I got a little older and then saw it from a different point of view. And now, 50 years later, I'm looking at it all from someone who's on the back porch of his days. And it's kind of really sweet.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUGAR, SUGAR")

ARCHIES: (Singing) Ah, sugar - honey, honey...

WESTERMAN: Ashley Westerman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUGAR, SUGAR")

ARCHIES: (Singing) You are my candy girl...

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