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I Love You More Today Than Yesterday....

Charlottesville, Virginia

July 28, 2020

One of the best tunes ever. In the video above, it is pretty amazing how that sole sax player makes the sounds of an entire horn section. 😋

And as Paul Harvey would say....

The Spiral Starecase started as a Sacramento combo known as the Fydallions, and they soon evolved into a five-piece group consisting of Harvey Kaye, Dick Lopes, Bobby Raymond, Vinnie Parello, and lead vocalist Pat Upton. After playing the club circuit and cutting a few regional discs on the Crusader label, they signed with Columbia Records in 1967.

But while Columbia loved their sound, they hated their conservative clothes and hairstyles, as well as the name of the group. The group’s appearance was made over, and their name was changed to the Spiral Starecase, being deliberately misspelled so as to not too closely imitate its source, the movie The Spiral Staircase.

Their first record, “Baby What I Mean,” didn’t go anywhere, and so “when we were in Las Vegas in ’68, Columbia suggested that someone in the group should write our songs, and I felt like I could do that,” Upton told me. “I’d had the title ‘More Today than Yesterday’ for a couple of years before I ever wrote the song.

“I was jamming with a friend and he showed me a passing chord that I loved. I knew I would never use that chord with the stuff we were doing at the time and decided the only way was to write a song and use it, and I did. When the chorus came around, those words ‘I love you more today than yesterday’ just fell right into place.”

Candy Kaye, widow of band member Harvey Kaye, said that her husband liked to tell people how they soon knew they had a hit. “We were staying at the Bali Hai Motel in Las Vegas where we were performing as the house band in the Flamingo Sky Room. To test it out, we would play the song just to see if people would dance to it.

“Every time we played it, people would ask who originally did the song and where could they get it, so we knew we had a hit on our hands.” Indeed they did have a hit; it went to #12 on the charts and would eventually sell more than one million copies and earn the group a gold record.

Though the group should have been riding high with their newfound chart success, the reality of the situation was that things were bad — so bad, in fact, that the group members had started to go their separate ways. “We were breaking up and were not together as a band when ‘More Today Than Yesterday’ came out and became a hit,” Upton said.

The problem was that the group’s manager had been misappropriating funds, people weren’t getting paid, and it was directly affecting the group’s ability to perform. “Once we were flying out to do a performance, and we got to LAX, and all of our gear was out on the street because our manager bought our tickets with a stolen credit card,” Upton noted.

“Another time, we were working at the Flamingo Hotel and we bought a PA system, and then we found out that the money we were giving our manager every week to pay for the PA was not being paid and so they came to repossess the system. It was one thing after another. But the incident with the PA system was the final straw, and a couple of members said, ‘I’m done,’ and we were dead in the water, so to speak.”

But then something remarkable happened. “‘More Today Than Yesterday’ started playing on the radio and everybody jumped back on board” Upton said. The future looked bright; the group toured with Three Dog Night, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly and the Family Stone, and the Beach Boys, and they also performed on American Bandstand.

They cut an album to showcase “More Today than Yesterday” and, hopefully, a few more hit singles. Unfortunately, the follow-ups to “More,” while doing well, did not match the success of their predecessor. “No One for Me to Turn To” peaked at #52 in 1969, and the superb “She’s Ready” only reached #72 in 1970. Unfortunately, Upton said, “”She’s Ready’ was our last charting single because that’s when the group split up for good.”

The problems with management and internal disagreements because of it, coupled with the group’s failure to find another follow-up hit, forced the group to finally call it quits in 1970. The guys all went their separate ways, and Upton says he “stayed around LA and did song commercials, sang demos for people and worked in a trio called Old Friends for a few years. I released one single on RCA, and it didn’t do anything.”

Pat Upton became a session musician and most notably worked with Ricky Nelson. Harvey Kaye put together a new lineup and kept the band’s name alive by touring for many years afterward.

Ultimately though, Upton regrets that things went down like they did and believes “the band would have probably stayed together if [the manager] would have taken care of things.” Yet despite recording only a few singles, they managed to produce one great classic in “More Today Than Yesterday,” a mainstay of oldies radio even today.

Props to Diana Ross for a decent cover-version of the tune. From 2007.

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