May 1972: Looking Glass Releases "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)"

Looking Glass
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(Epic)

Life was good for Elliot Lurie and his Looking Glass bandmates in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. back in 1970. They were renting a turn of the century farmhouse for $240 a month, writing songs and gigging around the area. That was when Lurie started writing a song about his high school sweetheart, Randye.

“I got the story in my head and I had a few lines with a verse that was kind of interesting. Then I got to the chorus and to Randye,” Lurie told Vinyl Dialogues. “But Randye is a weird name because it can be taken as a male name or a female name. The song is about a barmaid, so I thought, why don’t I change the name to ‘Brandy.’ So that’s what I did. But when I first finished writing it, I didn’t jump up and down and say, ‘this is a hit.'”

Neither did the record company, which relegated the song to the B-side of first single, "Don't It Make You Feel Good." It was record promotions man Robert Mandel, however, who knew that "Brandy" was the band's hit. Armed with a stack of test pressings of the album, Mandel hit up all of the top pop radio stations around Washington D.C. and Baltimore, encouraging DJs and programmers to check out the song. It just took one--Harv Moore at  WPGC-AM/FM to make "Brandy" a hit.

“The promotion man went in to hang out with Harv and he said, ‘Have you heard this Looking Glass thing?’ And Harv said, ‘Yeah, but it’s not really happening,’" Lurie remembered. "And the promotion man said, ‘You really got to listen to the rest of the album, this group is pretty good.’ Back in those days, that could happen. A promotion man could have a relationship with a disc jockey and ask him to listen to something and he would.”

Moore liked "Brandy" enough to put the song in regular rotation. The phone lines lit up with listeners calling about the track. Other stations in the area, with a similar response. Soon, the record label knew they had a breakout hit on their hands.

“We said, are you sure?," Lurie recalled. "And the record company guys said, ‘We’ve done this before; we do this for a living. If you have a song in a major market like this and the requests are like that, it’s going to be a hit.’”

The label rush-released "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" to hit stores on May 18, 1972, and the tune worked its way across the country and up the charts. On August 25, 1972, it peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It only held the spot for one week, replaced on the following chart by Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)."

The song's timeless quality has kept it relevant over the years, with "Brandy" continuing to inspires new generations over the years. Paul Stanley of KISS revealed in his 2004 memoir, Face the Music, that the track inspired him to write KISS hit, "Hard Luck Woman."It's the massive Guardians of the Galaxy movie franchise, however, that has given "Brandy" its biggest boost.

"The first Guardians is not the type of movie that I would normally watch, but I had heard so many great things that I put the DVD in, and from the first moment I was hooked," Lurie told The Hollywood Reporter. "I got a request from my music publisher about nine months ago to use 'Brandy' for the sequel, and I immediately said we have got to get this into these great movies. And then I started to read scene descriptions sent over to the publisher and I said, 'Wow, this is more than a background tune. This is really in the story.'" 

"It was very interesting to me that in the opening scene you have Peter's mom in a T-top convertible singing along at the top of her lungs on the way to a Dairy Queen in a spring afternoon. That is the way the song was intended when it was first written," Lurie marveled. "It was a story song, and the band I was with, Looking Glass, we were hoping and praying for a hit record that people would play in their convertibles with the tops down." 

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