P. F. Sloan

P.F. Sloan (born Philip Gary Schlein, September 18, 1945, in New York) is an American pop-rock singer and songwriter.

Bio from Wikipedia, 1/10/2012

P. F. SloanHe was very successful during the mid-1960s, writing, performing and producing Billboard top 20 hits for artists such as Barry McGuire, Jan & Dean, Herman’s Hermits, Johnny Rivers, The Grass Roots and the Mamas and the Papas. His folk-pop blends caused him to sometimes be referred to as “the poor man’s Bob Dylan”.


Sloan was born to an American father and a Romanian-born mother. His family moved to West Hollywood, California in 1957, where his father, a pharmacist, changed the family surname from “Schlein” to “Sloan” after repeatedly being denied a liquor license for his store. At 13, Sloan’s father bought him a guitar; at the music store in Hollywood, Sloan met Elvis Presley, who gave him an impromptu music lesson. In 1959, at 14, “Flip” Sloan recorded a single, “All I Want Is Loving” / “Little Girl in the Cabin,” for the L.A. R&B record label Aladdin Records, which folded soon after its release.

He became part of the burgeoning Los Angeles music scene, landing a job on the songwriting staff at music publisher Screen Gems, which was then the largest publisher on the West Coast, at 16. There, he formed a partnership with Steve Barri, and the duo made several attempts at recording a hit single under names such as “Philip and Stephan”, the “Rally-Packs”, the “WIldcats”, the “Street Cleaners”, “Themes Inc.”, and the “Lifeguards”. In 1963, they to came to the attention of Screen Gems executive Lou Adler, who decided to use them as backing singers and musicians (Sloan on lead guitar and Barri on percussion) for Jan & Dean, whom he managed. Sloan & Barri were credited on all Jan & Dean albums from Dead Man’s Curve / The New Girl in School in early 1964 through Command Performance in 1965. Jan Berry used Sloan as the lead falsetto voice instead of Dean Torrence on the band’s top 10 hit “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena.” Around that time, Sloan and Barri also wrote their first U.S. Billboard Top 100 hit, “Kick That Little Foot Sally Ann”, arranged by Jack Nitzsche and performed by a Watts, California-born artist named Round Robin. Soon they also appeared on surf records by Bruce & Terry and the Rip Chords, and they recorded their own surf singles and album as The Fantastic Baggys.

Dunhill Records

Adler then doubled their salaries to hire them for his startup publisher Trousdale Music and startup label Dunhill Records. Using the name Phil F. Sloan or P.F. Sloan (the “F” stood for “Flip,” his nickname), Sloan wrote hits for many performers, including “Eve of Destruction” (Barry McGuire); “You Baby” and “Let Me Be” (The Turtles); “A Must to Avoid” and “Hold On!” (Herman’s Hermits); “Take Me For What I’m Worth” (The Searchers); and “Secret Agent Man” (Johnny Rivers). This last song was the theme tune for Danger Man, a British TV series that had been given a new title (Secret Agent) and theme for the U.S. market.

Sloan also became a session guitarist as part of the group of L.A. session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, working with such well-known backing musicians as drummer Hal Blaine, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, bassist Joe Osborn, and bassist/keyboardist Larry Knechtel, among others. While working with Barry McGuire, Sloan created and played a guitar introduction as a hook to a new song by John Phillips entitled “California Dreamin’”, and the same backing track was used for the hit version by Phillips’ group The Mamas & the Papas, which led to Sloan being a regular in their recording sessions. Sloan generally played the lead guitar tracks on most of the songs he wrote, including the famous riff in “Secret Agent Man.”

Sloan and Barri also were performers while on Dunhill. They released Dunhill’s first album, a collection of surf instrumentals, as the “Rincon Surfside Band,” and the album was later issued by RCA under the name “Willie and the Wheels.” Sloan’s successful folk-influenced songwriting caused Dunhill to record two solo albums by him. His single “Sins Of A Family” reached the Billboard top 100 in fall 1965, in the wake of the huge success of “Eve of Destruction.”

During this time, Sloan & Barri continued to do session work with Jan Berry of Jan & Dean, until Jan’s near-fatal car wreck in April 1966, which basically ended Jan & Dean’s career. They also produced a number of other acts, from Ann-Margret to The Robbs to Canadians Terry Black and Patricia-Anne (both of whom had #1 hits in Canada with Sloan-Barri songs) to Dunhill acts such as Shelley Fabares, the Ginger Snaps featuring Dandee Duncan, the Thomas Group (headed by Danny Thomas’s son Tony) and the Iguanas (a Mexican band that did not speak English).

The main Sloan-Barri recording effort for Dunhill was done under the name The Grass Roots. However, after the Grass Roots enjoyed a Billboard Top 30 single with “Where Were You When I Needed You”, the band’s first album failed to chart, and Dunhill forced Sloan and Barri to recruit a real band to perform as the Grass Roots. Ultimately, a second band had to be recruited after the first one quit. Sloan and Barri continued as producers for the band, and they quickly generated a U.S. top 10 hit with a cover of the European hit, “Let’s Live for Today” (by the British band The Rokes). After that, though, the new Grass Roots wanted to write their own songs, and Sloan, who still wanted to be a recording artist, became alienated from both Barri and Dunhill management.

Sloan played as a solo artist at the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival on Sunday June 11, 1967 in the “summer of love” on the final day of this celebration of pop music. This music festival is important because it occurred before the Monterey Pop Festival but did not have a movie to document it for the ages (see List of electronic music festivals).

Sloan’s final Dunhill release was a solo single, “I Can’t Help But Wonder, Elizabeth” b/w “Karma (A Study Of Divinations)”, once again released under the name Philip Sloan.
Political Influence –

Due to its line “You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’”, “Eve of Destruction” was used as a rallying cry by supporters of the Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which changed the voting age from 21 to 18 as of 1971.

After Dunhill

After leaving Dunhill, Sloan recorded an album in 1968, Measure of Pleasure, that he says was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, but which listed Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee as the locale. The album, produced by Tom Dowd and released by Atco Records, was Sloan’s most accomplished bit of record-making (as opposed to songwriting), but it did not sell. Beset by business and legal problems – Sloan essentially signed away the rights to his valuable compositions, and has said that Dunhill made threatening advances to force him to do so – he largely dropped out of sight in the late 1960s and did not record or perform again, save for 1972’s poorly-received Raised On Records, until the 1980s. Sloan has discussed spending most of three decades battling mental and physical illnesses as a reason for his disappearance from music. He made a CD in the early 1990s that was initially released only in Japan.

Finally, in 2005 Sloan made a series of recordings with producer Jon Tiven in Nashville, Tennessee. The resulting album, Sailover, was released in August 2006 on the Hightone label. Tiven, known for his work with artists such as Alex Chilton and Frank Black, played on the record, as did his wife, Sally Tiven. The record was a mixed bag of old and new songs, including several co-written by Tiven, and includes guests Frank Black, Buddy Miller, Lucinda Williams, Felix Cavaliere, Tom Petersson, and Gary Tallent.