“Hot Smoke and Sassafras” on American Bandstand

This Week in Texas Music History, national television featured psychedelic Texans whose influences included both Aldous Huxley and The Beverly Hillbillies.

Bubble Puppy on American Bandstand!

On April 5, 1969, the psych band Bubble Puppy played their hit single “Hot Smoke and Sassafras” on the TV show American Bandstand. Few bands capture the spirit and story of Texas’ psychedelic 60s like Bubble Puppy does. Founding members Rod Prince and Roy Cox met in the Corpus Christi band the New Seeds before moving to San Antonio and forming Bubble Puppy, named for a children’s game in Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World. In 1968, the group got its big break opening for the Who. The gig got them a new drummer and an itch to move on to yet another Texas scene, north to Austin. Bubble Puppy found a home in the Austin venue the Vulcan Gas Company, opening for Shiva’s Headband and Johnny Winter.

Bubble Puppy Members – Todd Potter, Roy Cox, David Fore and Rod Prince
Briscoe Center Vulcan Gas Company during the late 60’s/early 70’s
Bubble Puppy at Vulcan Gas Company
Promotional Poster

Not only would this be Bubble Puppy’s biggest national hit, it would be the biggest hit in the history of the legendary International Artists label, known for their uneven stewardship of cult figures the 13th Floor Elevators and Red Krayola. Likewise, Bubble Puppy’s fine album A Gathering of Promises could not quite capitalize on Hot Smoke’s success. The band renamed themselves Demian for a period in California before settling back in Austin in the 1970s. Among other projects, Bubble Puppy’s members played with key progressive country artists such as Steve Fromholz and Rusty Wier. As audiences have continued to rediscover Texas’s psychedelic era, Bubble Puppy’s stock has risen, with several reunion shows over the years, and to this day, the first bars of “Hot Smoke and Sassafras” still signal the dizzying heights of the Lone Star Sixties. 

Sources: Sandra George in Laurie E. Jasinski, Gary Hartman, Casey Monahan, and Ann T. Smith, eds. The Handbook of Texas Music. Second Edition. Denton, TX: Texas State Historical Association, 2012.

Ben Graham, A Gathering of Promises: The Battle for Texas’s Psychedelic Music, from the 13th Floor Elevators to the Black Angels and Beyond. Washington, DC: Zero Books, 2014.

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