45: “Leader of the Laundromat” b/w “Ulcers” by The Detergents. Roulette R-4590. Recorded in New York City, 1964.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

The Detergents were comprised of three Aldon Music session singers and staff writers; not bad for three eighteen year-olds. In 1964, Producer Paul Vance pulled them together as The Detergents specifically to record this parody of the Shangri-La’s “The Leader of the Pack,” though they had already recorded some decent surf music as the Cabin Kids. Member Danny Jordan (Vance’s nephew) even had some parody experience already, having recorded “Just Couldn’t Resist Her With Her Pocket Transistor,” a poppin’ retake of “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” back in 1960.

Leader of the Laundromat was pretty faithful to the musical style of the original, and it peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The B Side was a solid surf jam called “Ulcers.” Why they picked that title is a mystery for the ages.

An album and tour followed, along with appearances on shows like Shindig! and Hullabaloo. A new single called “Double-O-Seven” was a comparably weak original number about a boy whose girlfriend had left him in the lurch because of her obsession with James Bond. While this may have been a common problem in the mid-sixties, audiences didn’t respond, and the song stopped at #89 on the charts. Then, as now, people seemed to like parodies more than original comedic songs—just ask Weird Al Yankovic.

The composers of “Leader of the Pack” were not flattered by the imitation and sued The Detergents. The case was settled out of court. In my humble opinion, they would have been better off suing the producers of TV show I’ve Got a Secret for foisting Robert Goulet on those poor girls.

The Detergents broke up in 1966. One of the members, Ronnie Dante, would go on to success as vocalist for The Archies, providing the vocals for “Sugar Sugar.” He’d go on to record his own work and produce records for Barry Manilow, Cher, and Pat Benatar.

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