The Three Ring Circus – Groovin’ On the Sunshine


I hope you can sleep tonight…


Listen/Download – The Three Ring Circus – Groovin’ On the Sunshine

Greetings all.

Here’s a weird one for you.

A long time ago – at least 15 years – I was out searching for records at one of the less likely, far afield digging spots on my list, and I pulled one of the strangest, oddly unsettling picture sleeves I had ever seen (which you are now, also seeing..BOOYAH!).

Anyway, my stack was already large, so I slid it back into the pile, where it no doubt scared someone else later on.

That picture sleeve was lodged in the catacombs of my brain ever since.

Flash forward to earlier this year, a buddy of mine has a copy of the same, creepy-looking record in his sale list, with a sound clip.

My sunshine pop senses being much more highly developed these days, I gave the clip a spin and dug what I heard, so I put in my bid, and before long the record was mine.

The group, The Three Ring Circus (thus the scary clown…), which all available evidence suggests was a product of “the Man” trying to coopt the psychedelic vibe, was the brainchild of songwriter Bob Allen, who had written some big hits for Johnny Mathis.

When I was researching the 45, I found this article in Billboard in which the broader, completely insane scheme behind the Three Ring Circus was revealed:



Musically, the record is actually very cool indeed, sounding like the intersection between the Free Design, the Neon Philharmonic and the Banana Splits.

There was actually an entire album recorded by the Three Ring Circus, on which one side was vocal and the other instrumental.

Bob Allen went on to write and produce an album for Bob McGrath from Sesame Street, which also included a cover of this very tune.

Around the same time, the Tokens recorded and released a medley of ‘Groovin’ on the Sunshine’ and – dig this – the Sesame Street theme!

Go figure.

I, for one will be on the lookout for a copy of the ‘Three Ring Circus’ LP.

I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll see you all next week.





PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

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  1. the Klowns on RCA (produced by Jeff Barry) also had a Barnum-Bailey tie-in.

    I remember seeing sealed copies of this Three Ring Circus LP when I first started collecting (’80-81) but “sunshine pop” as a record-nerd genre (guilty as charged!) didn’t exist then. It was too close in time frame for anyone to be interested in.

  2. Yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot this week (unrelated issue) about the levels of artifice/pretentiousness in the assemblage of new genres. There was certainly enough product in the sunshine pop/lite psych arena to group together. Initially I assume that it was too “uncool” for most, but if you dig pure pop, good songs and production, it’s hard to avoid.
    I’m going to have to find a copy of this LP since I really want to hear the instrumental side.

  3. Thanks for this – what a story! Had never heard of the Three Ring Circus but I’ve had the Bob McGrath album for a while now and his cover of this has always been the stand out track – it’s livelier than this version, with a kids chorus turning the “Love and Happiness” refrain almost into a mantra and a session band that’s absolutely getting down by the end. My kids love it too!

    The Bob album used to be all over the net, but can’t find a link anywhere now, I’m afraid.

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