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King Harvest

King Harvest

Best known for their enduring hit "Dancing in the Moonlight," King Harvest are a French-American rock band who enjoyed some chart success in the early part of the 1970s. Their rich harmonies and breezy soft rock grooves with folk and country undertones played out over a handful of well-crafted albums, though they were never able to repeat their initial popularity and dissolved in 1976. Over subsequent decades, "Dancing in the Moonlight" settled into the pantheon of beloved classic rock staples and has been enjoyed by new generations through radio and numerous film and television placements. A handful of reunion concerts occurred over the years, as did studio reunions like 2015's Old Friends.

Formed in France in 1970 by American expatriates Dave "Doc" Robinson (lead vocals, keys) Eddie Tuleja (guitar), Ron Altbach (keys), Rod Novak (bass, sax), and Wells Kelly (drums), the group had their roots in Ithaca, New York, where several bandmembers attended Cornell University. While in Paris, they recorded under a handful of different names but eventually adopted King Harvest after winning a local rock contest. Signing with the Perception label in 1972, the group recorded "Dancing in the Moonlight," a crafty, keyboard-led single with strong harmonies that was written by former bandmate Sherman Kelly, brother of drummer Wells Kelly. The song was a major success back in the U.S. and Canada, reaching number 13 on the pop charts and prompting the band to record a full album under the same title. In spite of its hit song, the album didn't crack the Top 100 and only the 1973 follow-up single, "A Little Bit Like Magic," managed to make the charts.

Back in the U.S., King Harvest managed to attract the support of Beach Boys Mike Love and Carl Wilson and made a second self-titled record, this time for A&M, in 1975. It too failed to find an audience and by 1976, the group called it quits. Over the next few years, members of King Harvest were folded into the Beach Boys' camp, working with them on-stage and in the studio. They also recorded with Beach Boys solo projects like Mike Love's Celebration and on Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue album.

As time went on, "Dancing in the Moonlight" remained a staple of classic rock radio and appeared in movies and television shows like Guardians of the Galaxy, Better Call Saul, Bates Motel, and Girls. The band reunited a handful of times with Novak and Tuleja recording a 2010 King Harvest country album in Scandinavia called The Prairie Dogs - Country Classics. King Harvest celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2012 with a concert in Upstate New York and reunited again the following year due to Robinson's death to pay tribute to their fallen bandmate. A new album, Old Friends, appeared in 2015. ~ Timothy Monger

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