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From the Archies to Tina Turner to Homer Simpson: the many covers of Andy Kim's 'Sugar Sugar'

The 1969 song by a cartoon band was panned when it first came out — but soon, everyone wanted to perform it.

The 1969 hit was panned when it first came out — but soon, everyone wanted to perform it

The 1969 recording by cartoon band the Archies was panned when it first came out — but soon, everyone wanted to cover it. Kim's story will be featured alongside the stories of four more Hall of Fame inductees in the CBC Music special Inducted: The Road to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The special will feature extensive interviews with Canadian music legends Jann Arden, Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, Cowboy Junkies, and the family of singer Bobby Curtola. 1:29

The 2020 Junos have been cancelled since this article was first published.

When it first came out, the infectious 1969 pop song "Sugar Sugar," written by Montrealer Andy Kim, was not a hit. 

Kim, who was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in November 2019, says that "Sugar Sugar" initially didn't get much radio play, in part because the band that released it, the Archies, was a cartoon group on The Archie Show

The bubblegum style of the song, he says, just didn't mesh with the turbulent year it came out.

"It's the year of Woodstock. The year the Vietnam War was raging. There was extreme political unrest. There was the moon landing. There were the Manson murders. There were the Beatles on a roof saying goodbye," Kim tells CBC Music during a tour of Villeray, the Montreal neighbourhood where he grew up. 

Promotional art showing Andy Kim and characters from Archie. His hit song "Sugar Sugar" was performed by The Archies cartoon band. (AndyKimMusic/Twitter)

"Nobody wanted to play it because the ground was shifting. But when you take a bite of a great apple, I don't care how old you are, you're going to enjoy that apple. And I think that 'Sugar Sugar' is a lesson that there's always a moment for love and understanding and feeling good."

In time, the song caught on big and other artists wanted to cover it. Wilson Pickett, Tina and Ike Turner and Bob Marley all recorded distinct versions of the pop hit.

"So now people are coming to me saying, 'Great song man. That's a great song. You're a talented guy,'" Kim says. 

Years later, Kim was sitting at home when fellow Canadian musician Ron Sexsmith called him. Someone new was covering "Sugar Sugar": Homer Simpson.

 

"And truth be known. Forget Wilson Pickett, Ike and Tina Turner and Bob Marley. Homer Simpson is, like, the deal. It's the deal."

Kim recorded pop songs throughout the late '60s and had another massive hit with "Rock Me Gently" in 1974. He recorded under the name Baron Longfellow in the '80s before returning to the scene as Andy Kim in 1995. 

"Being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame is the greatest honour I can get," Kim said. "It's kind of been a solitary journey in my life." 

"I feel like I'm home."

Kim's story will be featured alongside the stories of four more Hall of Fame inductees in the CBC Music special Inducted: The Road to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The special will feature extensive interviews with Canadian music legends Jann Arden, Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, Cowboy Junkies, and the family of singer Bobby Curtola. Inducted airs on CBC Television at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 15. You can watch it via CBC Gem now

With files from Reuben Maan. Video produced by Reuben Maan, Justin Chandler and Ryan Gassi. Andre Bendahan on camera.

About the Author

Justin Chandler

Associate Producer

Justin Chandler reports and produces throughout the CBC in Toronto. He's worked as an associate producer for CBC Radio shows Cross Country Checkup and Day 6, as well as for CBC Music and CBC Arts. He previously worked as an editor for The Eyeopener newspaper and he co-hosts/produces the Radio Free Krypton podcast. Follow Justin on Twitter: @mr_lois_lane

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