The Archies are a garage band founded by Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, and Jughead Jones, a group of adolescent fictional characters of the Archie universe, in the context of the animated TV series, The Archie Show. The group is perhaps best known for their real world success, through a virtual band.
The fictional band's music was recorded by session musicians featuring Ron Dante on vocals and released as a series of singles and albums. Their most successful song, "Sugar, Sugar", became one of the biggest hits of the bubblegum pop genre that flourished from 1968 to 1972.
The Archies (cartoon characters) play a variety of contemporary popular music, consistent with the era in which the comic is drawn. They seem to have a preference for rock and roll, however.
Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge later also joined the group. Every member sings vocals, with Jughead handling the bass voice on a few tracks. Though their singing voices were soft and appropriate for pop vocals, their speaking voices are much different. The roles the teens played in the fictional band were:
Archie: lead vocals/ lead guitar
Reggie: rhythm guitar / bass guitar
Betty: tambourine / percussion / guitar
Veronica: organ / keyboard
Hot Dog: mascot / conductor
One distribution mode for the Archies' music was cereal boxes: a cardboard record was embossed directly into the back of a box such that the record could be cut out and played on a turntable (although their music was also available on standard issue LPs and 45s). Though the group no longer appears in animation, they are still frequently used in stories published by Archie Comics.
A set of studio musicians were assembled by Don Kirshner in 1968 to perform various songs. The most famous is "Sugar, Sugar", written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, which went to #1 on the pop chart in 1969, sold over six million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. In Billboard's Hot 100, it was ranked as the number one song of that year, the only time a fictional band has ever claimed Billboard's annual Hot 100 top spot. Other Top 40 songs recorded by The Archies include "Who's Your Baby?" (U.S. #40), "Bang-Shang-A-Lang" (U.S. #22), and "Jingle Jangle" (U.S. #10). "Jingle Jangle" also sold over one million copies, garnering a second gold disc award.
Male vocals for the fictional Archies group were provided by The Cuff Links' lead singer Ron Dante and female duet vocals were provided by Toni Wine. Wine, who was only paid for the recording session and quit the group when the song became a huge hit, was succeeded in 1970 by Donna Marie, who in turn was replaced on the final recordings by Merle Miller. The only Archies song not to feature Ron Dante on lead was 1971's "Love Is Living In You", sung by Richie Adams. The last single, released 1972, was "Strangers in the Morning"; its B-side song was "Plum Crazy".
Jeff Barry, Andy Kim, Ellie Greenwich, Susan Morse, Joey Levine, Maeretha Stewart, Bobby Bloom and Leslie Miller contributed background vocals at various times, with Barry contributing his trademark bass voice (portrayed as being sung by Jughead in the cartoon) on cuts such as "Jingle Jangle", "Rock 'n' Roll Music", "A Summer Prayer For Peace" (which hit number one in South Africa and Scandinavia in 1971), and "You Little Angel, You". Musicians on Archies records included guitarist Hugh McCracken, bassists Chuck Rainey and Joey Macho, keyboard player Ron Frangipane, and drummers Buddy Saltzman and Gary Chester.
Most of the Archies' songs were produced, written or co-written by Neil Goldberg and Jeff Barry. The following list of thirty-one titles was all written, arranged, directed and produced in the studio, solely by Neil Brian Goldberg, who is still grateful to Jeff Barry for giving him the deal, (part of which was for Nancy Barry's name to appear on each song). Neil Goldberg played rhythm guitar and was session leader on all tracks. Goldberg also sang background on a number of these tracks.
The Archies' records were initially released on the Calendar Records label, but the name was shortly thereafter changed to Kirshner Records.