Fabulous Fakes

Vicki Spencer was born into a show business family.  Her father, Lou Spencer, was the founder of a famous tap dancing act known as The Dunhill Trio and at two months old she was already performing with Danny Kaye.  As she grew older, Vicki took it upon herself to create her own show business opportunties and, after recording some demos, appearing in a couple of movies, modeling, filming commercials and winning beauty contests, she dove head first into the life of a rock and roll performer.  It's here that she truly made a mark, and the list of groups that she performed with is truly impressive: The Rottin Kids, The Bad Seeds, The Fabulous Fakes, The Bubble Gum Machine and Horatio.  While it would be nearly impossible to present the backstory on all of those bands, Vicki graciously took the time to provide some information on each of them.


The Fabulous Fakes
An Interview With Vicki Spencer

60sgaragebands.com (60s): You come from a show business family and had a rather varied career before singing in bands. Did you want to initially be a singer, an actress, or both?
Vicki Spencer (VS): I was always around stars because of my dad, Lou Spencer.  He was working on acts with everyone. I decided I wanted to be a singer first, then came the calls about the movies, so I did both.

When I was about 15 when I was in my first band. They were playing around Cincinnati and I was doing a gig with three other girls who also sang.  They were sisters--Karen, Kay and Kathy and called "The Three K's"; thus we became Vicki and The Three K's.  While we were performing, we were backed up by a band called The Nomads. The Nomads later asked me to join with them and we worked together until I got the first movie and had to leave. The Nomads were Marty Mann, Bob Smith, Tom Lystick, Dick Bisher and another guy whose last name I canít remember but his first name was Bill and he played sax. We never did any recordings that I can remember. I then got a contract with Fraternity Records in Cincinnati and wrote one song each for movies Teenage Millionaire and Twist Around The Clock.

60s: So...after The Nomads, would this be a correct timeline for your bands: Rottin Kids, Fabulous Fakes, Bubble Gum Machine, and then Horatio?
VS: Yes, that is correct.  I was in one band called The Bad Seeds but we didnít do any recording. That was between the movies and The Rottin Kids.

60s: You've indicated The Bad Seeds didn't record, but there is record of a 45 by "The Bad Seeds" on Columbia.  Is this not your group?
VS: Oops...forgot about that.  Yes...that was ours.

60s: Who comprised The Bad Seeds?
VS: Vicki Spencer, Lloyd Mc Glasson, Ernie Banks, Jerry Foster and John Reynolds.

60s: The Bad Seeds were based in Kentucky. Did you meet them when going to school? How did you hook up with them?
VS: I had met several of the members through school; the rest were recommended by friends. They were already a band and played mostly in Northern Kentucky before they added me. Then we changed the name to Queen Victoria And The Queen's Men (as per our agent's request). We toured for a while and then got the deal with Columbia and changed the name again to The Bad Seeds. 

60s: You later joined your brothers Danny and Billy in The Rottin Kids.  Was it a group prior to your joining, or did it only become a performing group after you joined?
VS: They were performing before I joined. My brother Billy didnít want a girl in the group so I became a Go Go dancer at a club that they were playing at. A man from an agency came in and asked if I could put my own band together to tour. That was when I was in Queen Victoria and The Queen's Men and then we became The Bad Seeds.  When my brothers saw that I was touring and making money and they werenít, we decided to go back and add me to The Rottin Kids.  We toured and made some money.

60s: After you re-joined your brothers in New York and joined The Rottin Kids, do you recall if The Bad Seeds continued on...or had they dissolved prior to you heading back to New York?
VS: I think they changed some members and continued to play around Northern Kentucky for a while. That was such a long time ago and things were happening so fast that I am not really sure.

60s: On your
website, you spelled the name of the group as "The Rottin Kids", but the Columbia 45s show it as "The Rotten Kids".  Did you alternate the spelling?
VS: No.  We always spelled it "The Rottin Kids"; everyone else spelled it wrong, even Columbia Records!  We have the original drumhead that shows it spelled our way on my brother Dannyís bass drum head.

The Rottin Kids before Vicki Spencer joined. Note the spelling...
60s: The Rottin Kids landed an appearance on The Tonight Show.  
VS: My dadís friend Joey Bishop was doing the The Tonight Show standing in for Johnny and he mentioned the name "The Rottin Kids" because he thought the name was funny. He mentioned it on the show and then he started to get fan mail about the group and wanted to know who we were. The Tonight Show called our Dad, who was our manager at the time, and asked if we would like to be on the show. After that we received calls from The Merv Griffin Show and The Mike Douglas Show to appear on them, and we did many times.

60s: Reportedly, The Rottin Kids were produced by Feldman, Goldstein and Gottehrer of The Strangeloves. How did you hook up with them?
VS: I think it was through Roy and Julie Rifkind, producers from New York.
 
60s: Did The Rottin Kids evolve into The Fabulous Fakes?
VS: No.  They are not all the same band. The Rottin Kids were Dan Spencer, Billy Spencer, Vicki Spencer, Kevin Lawless, Joe Valesso and Byran Gorman. When Kevin, Byran, and Joe left, we three formed a new version. We added George Peel, Mike Wilshire, and Charlie Brown. Mike and Charlie left and we then added Danny Evans and Jerry Foster. We then became The Fabulous Fakes.

60s: How did you attract the attention of Hazel Bishop, the nail company looking to promote their line of fake nails? Were they actively seeking a band to record as "The Fabulous Fakes"?
VS: Our agent at the time, Betty Sperber, called and told us that Hazel Bishop was still holding auditions for The Fabulous Fakes group, and they needed a girl in the group to wear and promote the product. We auditioned and got the job.  Also...after Hazel Bishop took the product "Fabulous Fake" finger nails off the market because of a defect, we became The Fakes for a short time.

60s: What type of gigs did The Fabulous Fakes typically play?
VS: We did lots of promo.  I am not sure of any national TV appearances, but we did lots of local stuff and performed at Palisades Park. Hazel Bishop provided our services for free to benefits and many for the Armed Forces and other branches of service. When they took the product off the market, they neglected to notify many of the people that they were not sponsoring us any longer so we were contacted by many of them at the last minute expecting us to play. We got dressed, packed up the equipment and did the shows anyway.

60s: Seeing that Fabulous Fakes was a fake nail product, did The Fabulous Fakes record any jingles for the product or were you tied in any other way to Hazel Bishop in more than name only?
VS: No jingles , but I did a spread in the New York Times and several magazines to promote the product.

60s: How many 45-rpm records did The Fabulous Fakes record?
VS: S
everal--about three.

60s: In that total of three, are you including The Rottin Kids 45s?
VS: We did some others but they were never released as far as I know. In fact , I had forgotten some of the ones you've listed (see below).

The Bubble Gum Machine
60s: After The Fabulous Fakes (and The Fakes) you, Billy and Danny joined The Bubble Gum Machine.  How did that happen?  Did you audition for Wes Farrell, or exactly how did The Bubble Gum Machine evolve?
VS: Betty Sperber (our agent/manager) set up an audition with Wes Farrell and he signed us. He came up with the name The Bubble Gum Machine.  We were the first and only Bubble Gum Machine.

60s:Who were the members of The Bubble Gum Machine?
VS: Vicki Spencer, Danny Spencer, Billy Spencer, George Peel and Danny Evans. When Dan Evans left we added Joe Moss and Jerry Rosenbloom.

60s: How did you land the deal with Senate Records?
VS: That was through the Rifkind brothers who introduced us to Wes Farrell, who gave us the name "The Bubblegum Machine."
 
60s: What was it like working with Wes Farrrell?
VS: He was great and very professional. He was very hands on--sometimes a little too hands on for us--but all in all it was a great experience.

60s: How active of a performing group was The Bubble Gum Machine?
VS: Very active.  We toured all the Hullabaloo clubs, the Arthur chains and the Cheetah chains, and we went to Argentina too. We did lots of TV and radio shows, disc jockey hops, and too many others to mention...all to promote the album.

60s: The Bubble Gum Machine is listed in TV Guides of the era as appearing on Upbeat, a Cleveland TV show.
VS: Actually, we didnít do the show because they had a problem with my outfit and wanted me to change or the band go on without me. The band refused to go on without me, so we walked. We did several shows for Where The Action Is, a weekly show that followed bands and did live shows.

60s: Who wrote the songs on the Bubble Gum Machine album? Did the group provide any?
VS: Wes Farrell wrote a few, Billy wrote one and other writers gave us the rest.

60s: When was the last time you listened to The Bubble Gum Machine record?
VS: I played it for some friends not too long ago. I think the album would have been better if we had more control over it. But it was still a good album.

ĎA Song That Never Comesí was the only lead that I had on the Bubble Gum Machine album and Mama Cass heard it; before the album was released she covered me on the song and she released it as a single. So my recording wasnít released as a single, and became just a cut on the album. That was supposed to be my single from the album.

60s: After The Bubble Gum Machine. you joined Horatio.  Were you and your brothers again the core of that group?
VS: 
Yes.  We were the core plus George Peel (he was with us through almost all of the bands), Kenny Rolph (for a short time), Joe Moss (for the duration of Horatio), Jerry Rosenbloom and Dan Bevers (also a short time) and then Harry Perlow (my husband of 39 years).

60s: Looking back, do you have a favorite group that you were a part of? Does any bring back more fond memories than the others?
VS: Not really.  Each one had its own charm and fond memories. I will have to say that playing Caesars Palace as Horatio with Frank Sinatra in the big room and our name on the marquee next to his gave me a big thrill.




Discography

Rottin Kids
Let's Stomp / Twelve Months Later (Mercury 72558)
Yakety Yak / Sweets For My Sweet (?)

Bad Seeds
King of the Soap Box / He's Lying (Columbia 4-43670)

Fabulous Fakes
Mickey's Monkey / No Excess Baggage (Columbia 4-44107)

Bubble Gum Machine
Bubble Gum Machine (LP, Senate 21001)
I Wouldn't Want To Be Lonely Anymore / You Make Everything Right (Senate 2107)
Wha'Cha Gonna Do For Me Now / The Love Of A Woman (Senate 2110)
Do You Really Love Me / One More Mountain To Climb (Senate 2114)

Recordings
Media
Bad Seeds - 'King of the Soapbox'
Media
Fabulous Fakes - 'No Excess Baggage'
Media
Bubble Gum Machine - 'A Song That Never Comes'