This band finds it's roots in the Greenwich Village-based folk scene of 1960s New York. John Sebastian, the group's leader, and the son of a well regarded classical harmonica player, got together with Zal Yanofsky, a guitarist formerly of a folk-rock band called The Mugwumps. Zal's old band also counted as members Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty, who would go on to become one half of The Mamas And The Papas. Joining Sebastian and Yanofsky were bassist Steve Boone and drummer Joe Butler. Sebastian himself played guitar,autoharp,harmonica and keyboards. He also wrote most of the band's material.
Their first single, the Sebastian-penned "Do You Believe In Magic?" was released in 1965 and became a top ten hit. This was followed by other folk-tinged hits such as "Daydream",which hit #2 and "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice",which went to #10 on the Billboard charts. Probably the most successful pop band to have jug band roots, most of the material on their first album were updated jug band standards.The rest of their albums featured mostly original songs.
The group had seven consecutive top 100 hits, a mark achieved in the 60's by only one other band, Gary Lewis And The Playboys. The only hit to go to #1, however was "Summer In The City" in 1966. The band was originally
selected to portray television's The Monkees, but producers subsequently opted to put together a total new "band".
John Sebastian wrote the music for Francis Ford Copolla's second movie, You're A Big Boy Now, with the band playing the music for the soundtrack, which included another hit, "Darlin' Be Home Soon".
After the soundtrack album was released, Zal Yanofsky left the band after a drug bust in San Francisco. A Canadian citizen, he was fearful of returning to the U.S. Pressured by authorities to name his supplier, he complied. He opened the popular Chez Piggy restaurant in Ontario, now run by his daughter.
Zanofsky was replaced by Jerry Yester,brother of The Association's Jim Yester. At this time the band's material became more pop-oriented.
The new line-up had two moderately successful singles, "Money" and "She's Still A Mystery To Me" as well as the 1967 album Everything Playing. John Sebastian left the group to go solo early in 1968. The band carried on as a trio with drummer Butler taking over lead vocals and using outside songwriters. Success waned, however and the band broke up in 1969.
The Lovin' Spoonful were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2000. All four original members were present and performed "Do You Believe In Magic".
Zal Yanofsky died In 2002. Steve Boone and Joe Butler still perform under the group name with two additional members Phil Smith and Mike Arturi, along with latter-day guitarist Jerry Yester.