Mark Weitz is one of the lost heroes of 1960s rock. As one of the singers, the organist, and the principal composing member of Strawberry Alarm Clock, and the member responsible (in collaboration with guitarist Ed King) for writing the music for "Incense and Peppermints," he ought to be remembered at least as well as, say, Doug Ingle of Iron Butterfly. But thanks to a manager who was, at best, inept, and a producer who played fast and loose with parceling out credit, neither his nor King's name ever ended up on the song as composers. Weitz was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1945, and at some point he moved to California. He had taken up the piano and organ at an early age, and at 20 joined a Glendale-based group called the Sixpence as keyboard player and one of their vocalists. Three or four years older than the rest of the members, he had more definite musical ideas than his bandmates as well as a more mature and professional outlook about music, which served them well over the next four years; he also found something of a kindred musical spirit in Ed King, the group's lead guitarist and a prodigiously talented (if younger) musician in his own right, and the two worked well together. Weitz was an able composer as well, and for the group's 1967 single on the All-American label he turned in two songs, "The Birdman of Alkatrash," written just by him, and an instrumental called "Incense and Peppermints" composed in collaboration with King. The latter, turned over to another composer by the record's producer, became a number one national hit for the group, newly christened Strawberry Alarm Clock. For the next three years, Weitz rode a whirlwind of dizzying success and frustrating attempts at a follow-up, though he did prove that the single wasn't a fluke and wasn't to the credit of the lyricist by generating a Top 30 hit (again, in tandem with King) called "Tomorrow." Amid conflicting creative impulses from the bandmembers and regular edicts about what they wanted from the group's record label, Weitz played some memorable keyboard parts on the band's first three albums in addition to turning in some good (and occasionally great) songs, and on the Alarm Clock's final album, Good Morning Starshine, showed himself in collaboration with King to be a pretty able first-time producer. Sad to say, Weitz left music after leaving the band in 1970, and hasn't contributed actively since.
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