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A pedestrian late-'60s California band, People hit the Top 20 in 1968 with a fluke cover of an old Zombies B-side, "I Love You."
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Best remembered for their 1968 hit single "I Love You," the San Jose, California-based rock band People! was also an early vehicle for singer, guitarist, and songwriter Larry Norman, who would later become a pivotal figure in Christian rock. People! was formed in 1965 by guitarist Geoff Levin; the initial lineup also featured bassist Robb Levin, keyboard player Albert Ribisi, drummer John Riolo, and singer and guitarist David Anderson. When he formed the group, Geoff Levin was a student at San Jose State University and giving guitar lessons in his spare time; one of his students was Mike Hunter, a disc jockey and program director at a popular local radio station, KLIV-AM, and Geoff persuaded Mike to become the group's manager. After Hunter came aboard, Anderson left the group and two singer-guitarists joined, Larry Norman and Gene Mason, with the intention of giving the band a more dynamic appearance on-stage; the band also added drummer Denny Fridkin after Riolo left to focus on his education. Combining elements of pop, folk-rock, and psychedelia, People! earned a loyal following on the California rock scene, headlining at a variety of venues and opening for the Who, the Doors, the Dave Clark Five, and Paul Revere & the Raiders. In 1967, People! scored a deal with Capitol Records; their debut single, "Organ Grinder" b/w "Riding High," attracted little interest, but the follow-up, a cover of the Zombies' "I Love You" with "Somebody Tell Me My Name" on the flipside, slowly became a hit in the United States, rising to number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1968, and a major chart success in Japan, Australia, Israel, and Italy. In response to the single's success, People! began work on an album, but just as the I Love You album was being released, Norman, who sang lead on the hit, left the group; Norman would later claim that Capitol made changes to the album without his permission (this has been dismissed by many people close to the group) and that the core members of the band had joined the Church of Scientology and were pressuring him to follow their lead (several members of the band did embrace Scientology, and are still involved with the church). Despite Norman's absence, People! continued, recording a second album for Capitol, Both Sides of People, in 1969, and in 1970, the group signed with Paramount Records for a third LP, There Are People and There Are People. A number of musicians drifted in and out of the band following their departure from Capitol, and in 1971, People! broke up. In 1974, Larry Norman and Gene Mason staged a People! reunion as a benefit for the Israeli Fund, though they were the only original members of the group to take part; the performance was later released as a live album by Norman's label Solid Rock Records, as was a 2006 People! performance in Oregon featuring Norman, Mason, and Denny Fridkin. In the fall of 2007, People! were inducted into the San Jose Rock Hall of Fame, and for the occasion, Norman, Mason, Fridkin, Ribisi, Riolo, Geoff Levin, and Robb Levin reunited for a short concert. It was one of Norman's final public performances; he died four months later.