n 1969, four students at the prestigious Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., banded together to perform cover songs by such contemporary artists as Sly and the Family Stone, Traffic, Jimi Hendrix, Dr. John and The Band at local pubs, fraternities and nearby colleges. The quartet would split up for the first time only two years later, then in 1971 they regrouped in Paris, France, playing clubs and, by now, their own material. After performing under such names as E Rodney Jones and the Prairie Dogs, the four musicians -- David (Doc) Robinson, Eddie Tuleja, Rod Novak and Ronny Altbach -- decided to call themselves King Harvest, a nod to The Band's song "King Harvest Has Surely Come." An old friend, drummer and future Orleans founding member Wells Kelly, visited the band at their villa in the Paris suburb of Orgeval, France, bringing along not only albums by such popular American bands as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, but also "Dancing in the Moonlight," a song he had composed with his brother, Sherman Kelly.
Recording "Dancing in the Moonlight" proved to be a logistical challenge. Lead singer Doc Robinson had to sing out in the stairwell of the small Parisian studio, which was a natural echo chamber (as long as the neighbors didn't come out during the recording), and the peculiar percussion sound they got was the result of using a toilet brush instead of some more modern percussion instrument. It was Jack Robinson, the hands-on producer of the track, who suggested playing the giddy intro to the tune up in the higher octaves, and Robinson who pitched the song to several U.S. and U.K. labels, eventually signing King Harvest to the small New York City label Perception Records.
Now relocated to Olcott Beach, N.Y., on the shore of Lake Ontario, King Harvest embarked on a U.S. tour, but eventually their record company went out of business. Then in the mid-'70s, the band was signed by major label A&M and hooked up with legendary songwriter Jeff Barry as producer. The King Harvest Album was released by A&M in 1975 and featured the band's trademark pop-rock formula of vocal harmony and jingling piano. By now, various members King Harvest were involved in touring with the Beach Boys, and The King Harvest Album featured guest appearances by Beach Boys Mike Love and Carl Wilson, as well as Peter Cetera of Chicago.
In late 2006, the band reacquired the rights to all their music from their former bankrupt record company, and released the above mentioned "album which should have been," now dubbed The Lost Tapes, on iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and other major online record stores in September 2007. "The reason for the 30-year delay is that we 'lost' our rights to all our music in 1974," says Novak. "Also we just finished a DVD for PBS called The 70s Experience Live where we got together for the first time since 1976." Rod added that there's also talk of the band "going back to Paris and doing a reunion CD with our old producer, Jack Robinson."
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