#20: Happy by Blades Of Grass

City: Fredericton, NB
Radio Station: CFNB
Peak Month: September 1967
Peak Position in Fredericton: #4
Peak position in Vancouver ~ did not chart
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #87
YouTube: “Happy
Lyrics: “Happy

Formed in 1967, the Blades Of Grass lineup consisted of Bruce Ames on rhythm guitar and vocals, David Gordon on drums and organ, Frank DiChiara on bass guitar and vocals), and Marc Black on lead guitar and vocals. They were each born around 1950. Marc Black remembers being five-years-old when he got introduced to a ragtime tune titled “The Crazy Otto Melody”. The following year he heard Elvis Presley. In 1964, Black formed The Toasters. By 1966, he was in a band who named themselves the Furnace Men to allude to the basement of a store in Maplewood, New Jersey, where the band typically practiced. They performed at high school dances, and dances at the Jewish temple in town. Marc Black recalls, “By the time we were seniors, we would just rent a hall and lots of kids would show up.” Becoming a popular attraction in their hometown, the Furnace Men – Ames, Gordon, DiChiara and Black – received interest in managing partners Frank Latagona and Walter Gollander. The managers promised to find the Furnace Men a recording contract. In the spring of 1967, a contract was signed with Jubilee Records.

The record producers at Jubilee, according to Ames, changed the band’s name to the Blades of Grass because they “thought that our sound was bright and clear and that the Furnace Men sounded dark and dirty. As our producers, we had no choice but to reluctantly agree to the name change.”

The first single release by the Blades Of Grass, as they were fashioned as ‘Sunshine Pop’, was “Happy”.

Happy by Blades Of Grass

“Happy” was written by Tony Michaels and Vinny Gormann. Michaels and Gormann cowrote a number of songs, starting in 1963, recorded by the Shangri-Las and Jay & The Americans. Michaels also wrote some songs for the Critters. “Happy” was was recorded by both the Sunshine Company and Blades of Grass in May 1967.

Blades Of Grass charted to #64 on the Cashbox Top 100 Singles chart in August 1967. But it was outpaced by the Sunshine Company recording which climbed to #31 on Cashbox and #50 on the Billboard Hot 100 in mid-September. Apparently, when the Blades Of Grass recorded “Happy” they were unaware that the Sunshine Company had also been offered a chance to record the tune. They were blindsided when they discovered a second version of the song also charting in different radio markets. Ames recalled that “We were blindsided and shocked when we were informed that there was another version of ‘Happy.’ As I remember it, our managers were equally surprised and upset”. Having to compete with another release, the Blades of Grass’s rendition of “Happy” did exceedingly well on the East coast. However, the Sunshine Company’s original version performed better on the West coast.

“Happy” is a song written from the point of view of someone who has been dating long enough to get engaged, or who knows “you’re the girl I want to marry.” From the day they met, the couple have grown fonder and fonder. As they just naturally click, the singer celebrates “my happiness is you.” In their romantic partner they exclaim “I’ve found a lifetime of pleasure, of hidden treasure in the happiness of you.” He asks “what more in life could you give me?”  The lyrical reply: “Happy is the day, all my life with you.” He loves the world she inhabits, thinking of her, their life together and “the way I love you.”

“Happy” by the Blades of Grass climbed to #2 in Erie (PA) and Indio (CA), #4 in Fredericton, and Sault Ste. Marie (ON), #5 in Johnstown (PA), #6 in La Crosse (WI), Lansing (MI), and San Bernardino (CA), #7 in Sacramento (CA), and Corpus Christi (TX), #8 in Honolulu, and #9 in St. Louis, and Medford (OR).

During their brief time in the spotlight, the Blades Of Grass opened concerts for The Doors, Neil Diamond, Dave Clark Five, Van Morrison, and the Fifth Dimension. They also appeared on the Joe Franklin Show in New York City, and on Upbeat, which was a syndicated pop music variety show from Cleveland.

Blades Of Grass released a half dozen more singles in 1967 and 1968, with little impact. One of these, “I Love You Alice B Toklas” was also released by Harpers Bizarre. Neither band had a hit with the tune. Their debut album was filled with harmonies that evoked the Association. However, The Blades of Grass Are Not for Smoking was not commercially successful either. In 1969, when the bandmates graduated from high school they disbanded.

In 1989, Dave Gordon played trumpet on three tracks of the jazz album Time Peace recorded by Al MacDowell.

In the decades that followed, Marc Black has won international awards for scores of commercials. He also produced and wrote for a children’s album that featured Richie Havens, Taj Mahal, Peter Schikele, Rick Danko, and John Sebastian. In the early 2000s he was playing with a band called the Funky Sex Gods.

January 8, 2024
Ray McGinnis

Mike Dugo, “Blades Of Grass: Marc Black Interview,” Beyondthebeatgeneration.com.
Ritchie Unterberger, “Blades Of Grass,” Allmusic.com.
Blades Of Grass, “I Love You Alice B Toklas“, Jubilee Records, 1968.
Blades Of Grass, “Just Ah“, Jubilee Records, 1967.

Happy by Blades Of Grass

Year-end Top 100 for 1967 on CFNB, Fredericton (NB) | Songs 81 to 100

Leave a Reply

Sign Up For Our Newsletter