Laugh, Laugh

"Laugh, Laugh" is a song by American rock group The Beau Brummels, written by guitarist Ron Elliott and produced by Sylvester Stewart, later known as Sly Stone. Released in December 1964 as the band's debut single, the song reached number 15 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart the following February. "Laugh, Laugh" was the first hit single to come out of the emerging San Francisco music scene in response to the British Invasion. The song was later included on the band's first full-length album, Introducing the Beau Brummels, released in April 1965.
The Beau Brummels promoted the single by appearing on several television shows, including a 1965 episode of The Flintstones in which the band gave an animated performance as the Beau Brummelstones. In 1994, "Laugh, Laugh" was selected to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll exhibit. Lead singer Sal Valentino reworked the song for his 2008 solo album, Every Now and Then.

In 1964, San Francisco disc jockeys Tom Donahue and Bobby Mitchell were looking for new acts to bring to their Autumn Records label. They discovered the Beau Brummels performing at the Morocco Room, a club in nearby San Mateo, and signed the band shortly thereafter. Donahue and Mitchell were eager to capitalize on Beatlemania, a phenomenon surrounding The Beatles that originated several years before in Germany and was spreading across the U.S. by this time. The Beau Brummels had taken their name from a term for an excessively well-dressed person. The group liked that the name sounded British, and knew that following the Beatles so closely in the alphabet would likely result in the bands' records being placed next to each other on record store shelves. Even the harmonies of "Laugh, Laugh" were reminiscent of popular British acts of the time, such as the Beatles and The Zombies. However, songwriter-guitarist Ron Elliott said the song was directly influenced not by UK bands, but by U.S. pop group The Four Seasons.

Elliott grew up writing music inspired by theatrical composers such as George Gershwin and Jerome Kern, as well as country music artist Lefty Frizzell. After forming the Beau Brummels with lead vocalist Sal Valentino, Elliott wanted to create simplified music that had mainstream appeal. He noted that "Laugh, Laugh" had a "very complex chord structure, but instead of using the major seventh chords and the passing chords that I prefer, I wrote the song in flat major and minor keys using a simplified tonal structure." Elliott said he liked using minor keys as he believed they added an element of mystery to the music, similar to that of James Bond films. Lyrically, "Laugh, Laugh" describes a rejected lover who takes pleasure in revenge when someone rejects the one who had rejected him.

The song features a harmonica, played by Declan Mulligan, throughout the tune.

The single version of "Laugh Laugh," universally heard in 1965 when it was a hit, fades out during the second iteration of the line "Lonely/Oh so lonely." The full version does not fade out, but rather ends "cold" on an E chord. As most oldies radio stations today play songs provided by a music service rather than actual records, the version with the cold ending is heard almost universally now. This version also features a "yeah" uttered by Sal Valentino between the two iterations of "lonely" that was edited out of the single release

The song was produced by Autumn house producer Sylvester Stewart, who later gained fame as Sly Stone of Sly & the Family Stone. Valentino recalled the band's recording sessions with Stone: "He was only about nineteen or twenty when we worked with him. It was before all of his reputation came to be, that everybody knows him for now." Valentino added, "He was a cheerleader. He could play everything if we needed him to. He was great. He was the guy in San Francisco who knew how to make a record in the studio. There was nobody before him." Elliott agreed, saying Stone was a positive influence on the band because of his talent, intelligence and experience.

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