was a rock band originally formed in San Jose, California in 1965. They performed top 40 music and released three albums of original material. Their greatest success came with a hit single they released called "I Love You
", a song written by Chris White
and recorded by The Zombies
that never charted in the United States. The People! version of "I Love You", on the other hand, rocketed up to number one in Japan (twice), Israel, Australia, Italy, South Africa, and the Philippines, and peaked at #14 on the US Billboard
Hot 100 List in June 1968.
Moreover, People! brought to the Nineteen-Sixties music world a unique brand of innovative theatrical showmanship and exceptionally avante-garde musicianship unheard of in show business. They were considered to be ahead of their time musically, and inspired later progressive rock bands such as Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, and Genesis. They did not emerge full blown or in an instant from their collective chrysalis, but the right ingredients were all at once magically present and the wind was just right for their brief and wonderful appearance.
They broke new ground for the European and American groups who came along later in the course of Rock History and introduced a number of "firsts".
People! surprisingly incorporated two drummers in their live show long before The Grateful Dead , The Allman Brothers Band, The Doobie Brothers, or Genesis.
They were the first to present a dramatic rock opera onstage with the creation of The Epic.
People! also featured more than one lead singer long before groups who came along later like ABBA, Three Dog Night, or The Blues Brothers.
On October 19, 2007 People! was inducted into the San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame and played together for the first time in many years.
- Larry Norman - singer (1966-1968), later a prominent Christian rock musician
- John Riolo- Drums, Singer (1965-1966), later a prominent Hindu/Jewish/Zen Drum builder
- John Tristao - Singer, Drums (1970-1971)
- Geoff Levin- Band Leader,Singer, Guitar (1965-1969)
- Albert Ribisi - Keyboards, Guitar, Singer (1965-1971)
- Denny Fridkin - Drums, Singer (1966-1971)
- Robb Levin - Bass Guitar, Singer (1965-1971)
- Gene Mason - singer (1966-1969)
- David Anderson - Singer, Guitar (1965)
- Pete Grant - Bass, Singer (three weeks) (1966)
- Bruce Eason - Singer (1969)
- Gary Burris - Bass for a four hour time period(1974)
- Gary Pomeroy - lead guitar for a four hour time period (1974)
People! formed in San Jose when bluegrass
/folkies Geoff Levin, David Anderson, and Robb Levin teamed up with surf music
music fans Al Ribisi and John Riolo of the Aardvarks
. Founding member David Anderson, who came up with the name "People!", was with the group for about a year and then left to start his own band Tree of Life
. High school pals Larry Norman and Gene Mason were then brought into the band as the new singers and frontmen. They had considerable experience behind them with their own folk group The Back Country Seven
. With the new line up People!, under the direction of their manager Mike Hunter, became featured performers in the San Jose and California Rock concert scene.
When John Riolo left the band to finish high school, Denny Fridkin stepped in with his drumming, vocal, and writing talents to join the rapidly blooming writing talents of Larry Norman and Geoff Levin. All three honed their writing skills and encouraged the other band members to write and collaborate. Five of the six members were writing songs by the time of the first album which contained a variety of styles including straight ahead rock, hard rock, country rock
, psychedelic rock
, classical rock, and rock opera
. Band member Larry Norman
claimed that People! wrote the first rock opera
ever written, and that they influenced Peter Townshend
in his composition of The Who
's album, "Tommy
In 1966 People! was first signed to Capitol Records and released Larry's double–sided single "Organ Grinder"/"Riding High" which sold lightly. They began working on a first album by recording one song at a time as finances permitted. As a favor to People! fan club president Cathy Stashuk, the band listened to a record called "I Love You" and added it to their live show. People! later recorded it, and it was released by Capitol Records as a single. "I Love You" was written by Chris White and originally released by his group The Zombies in 1965. The single took off into the US Top 10 for weeks, reaching number #1 in every major market. People! toured and did sold out concerts in major US cities when they were at the top of the charts. The single sold over one million copies, and managed to reach #1 in other countries, such as Japan (where it was number #1 twice and years apart), Israel, Australia, Italy, and South Africa. It would have been a #1 single in America if it had hit all the markets at the same time and sold during a two week period instead of over several months. In the USA, the single was on Billboard Magazine's top-twenty list for ten weeks, peaking at #14 on 17 June 1968. The band changed labels several times, releasing singles first with Capitol Records, Paramount and finally Polydor. In 1967 they recorded one of the first MTV–style rock videos which debuted on the Dick Clark show, "American Bandstand".
The Epic was a rock opera written by Larry Norman and Dennis Fridkin and according to rock historian Walter Rasmussen, Pete Townshend openly acknowledged that The Epic served as the inspiration for The Who's Tommy. The Epic provided Townshend with both the basic idea of writing a "rock opera" and also an essential plot line: maligned hero figure struggling against great odds to become victorious. Liner notes written by Larry Norman on the 2007 Korean re-release of the People! first album on his Solid Rock label discuss the meaning of The Epic, claim its influence on The Who's Peter Townshend, and reiterate the claim that The Epic was "The first rock opera ever written". In discussing Townshend's changing claims regarding the inspiration for Tommy, Norman writes: "It's show biz, baby. You can't admit you nicked the idea off an obscure, one hit wonder..
In April 1968, all of the band (except Mason and Norman) converted to Scientology at the Santa Clara Scientology Center.
According to Jesus Music historian David Di Sabatino, "Larry Norman left People! on the very day of their first album's release, citing interference from the record label, including censorship of songs and changing the name of the album from a potentially controversial title, We Need a Whole Lot More of Jesus and a Lot Less Rock 'n' Roll to a more commercially acceptable I Love You.
The People! second album, Both Sides of People! (1969) (Capitol ST-151), contained one song written by Norman, "She's a Dancer." The rest of the album consisted of one cover record, one composition by Gene Mason and two new songs: "Lucky John" and "Pirate Bill".
Third album and after
Before the release of their third album, There are People and There are People (1970) (Paramount PAS-5013), the group lost Gene Mason on lead vocalist, and Geoff Levin on lead guitar. The addition of Brass consequently changed their sound considerably. Bruce Eason sang for the band for about three months, including several television appearances, and left before their third album. Eason recalls, "I appeared as lead singer for the band on American Bandstand and Sam Riddle's "9th Street West". I used the stage name Scott Eason on the shows. I also participated in some unreleased studio recording which we did at Rainbow Studios in Hollywood as well."
The band regrouped one more time without Robb Levin, but achieving no further success disbanded permanently in 1971. In 1974 Norman and Mason reunited for a one-night only concert at UCLA to raise funds for The Israeli Fund. This concert was recorded live and released in 1980 as Larry Norman and People! - The Israel Tapes - 1974 A.D.. In the summer of 2006 Dennis Fridkin, Gene Mason and Larry Norman got together to perform a People! reunion concert at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. The concert was recorded and released on Norman's Solid Rock label.
People! was inducted into the San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame in October 2007, and the most successful lineup (including Larry Norman, Gene Mason, Denny Fridkin, Albert Ribisis, Robb Levin, John Riolo, and Geoff Levin performed together for the first time since 1969).
John Tristao, who joined People! after the departure of Norman and Mason, was inducted into the San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in October 2006.
- Larry Norman had started performing his self–written songs in 1956. He went on to perform for Ted Mack's Amateur Hour TV show when he was thirteen, signed with Capitol Records when he was eighteen and opened for Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Byrds and others with People!. In 1968 Larry left People! and moved to Hollywood. He was asked to be one of the leads in Hair (musical) and also offered a solo contract from Capitol Records. He passed on Hair and released his first solo album entitled Upon This Rock. He wrote songs that were translated into more than a dozen languages. His music was studied as literary poetry in some Universities. He played at the Nixon White House and would later play at the Carter White House. He has sold out Royal Albert Hall six times, performed at the Moscow Olympic Stadium six times, played The Hollywood Bowl, The Sydney Opera House, The Berlin Stadium and hundreds of other venues. He has been called the "Originator and Architect of Modern Spiritual Rock Music", which he vehemently denied. He called himself a poet, said he had never been an orthodox Christian but had been a follower of Jesus. He released many studio albums, live albums and even bootlegged pressings that he confiscated from bootleggers. In 2001 he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Larry Norman died of heart disease in February 2008.
- Dennis Fridkin once said he had come to San Jose State for pre–med studies "because it was the only college that would accept me." Two hours after his arrival at the bus terminal, long haired rocker Larry Norman approached him in an electronics store and asked if he played drums. In merely two weeks Denny was drumming for a full house with People! at the San Jose Civic Auditorium opening for Paul Revere and the Raiders. People! later went on a 27 city tour with The Who and Pete Townshend observed the Norman–Fridkin rock opera The Epic regularly. Although Townsend had already written a mini-opera A Quick One, While He's Away, he discussed his desire with Fridkin to write a longer and more complete rock opera. A year later Tommy was released and it may well have been The Epic that inspired Peter Townshend. When People! turned down an extensive Australian tour, Denny decided to go his own way and he retired from People!. He went back to school and completed his medical degree and opened up his own clinic for chiropractic and holistic health and successfully ran the business for twelve years. Denny later returned to "showbiz", this time writing several musicals which were performed in Las Vegas and Palm Springs. In 2005 he re–united with Norman and toured parts of Europe and America as Larry's musical director and keyboardist.
- Gene Mason went on to form his own very successful band Carrousel in California and was very successful in Los Angeles and in the San Francisco Bay Area after retiring from People!. Mason also became the fabulous lead guitarist for Carrousel and continued to record with his own group and People! vets Denny Fridkin and Larry Norman. Larry and Gene actually reformed People! in 1974 for recording sessions and a benefit concert for The Israel Fund. Gene's love for bluegrass never died, however, and he gravitated back into several prominent groups throughout California including the Stoney Hill Bluegrass Band, Western Lights and The Borderline Bluegrass Band.
- Geoff Levin is a founding member of the internationally popular "storytelling and music group" Celestial Navigations and has toured and released CD performances with the group for over 25 years. Geoff is also an award-winning composer, orchestrator and songwriter equally at home writing on guitar or keyboards. Mr.Levin has numerous TV and cable shows and series to his credit, including a three-part series for The Learning Channel called Science at the Edge, National Geographic's Quest for K2 and the Discovery Channel's special Valley of the T-Rex. He has provided additional music for Friends, Saturday Night Live, The Sopranos, Roswell, All My Children, Family Matters, Good Morning America and 20/20 and has scored over 30 films and countless television presentations. Geoff was an early participant in Scientology's Celebrity Center and spent time with L. Ron Hubbard on the Sea Org.
- Robb Levin was actually in the band longer than any other member and became leader of People! after everyone moved on toward their own individual goals. The name People! was eventually changed to Rocking Horse and Robb continued to tour and record extensively. Later Mr. Levin was able to take his amazing bass and vocal talents worldwide with the hit making Rick Springfield Band. In his spare time he became a very successful clothing manufacturer, property developer, and owner of the Sorrel River Ranch Resort near Moab, Utah.
- Albert Ribisi is a family man and is now married to Lyn Ribisi. He writes comedic and insightful articles for magazines and owns and manages a very successful venture called L.A. Publishing, a printing company that specializes in lightening fast service and can print ANYTHING! Al's son, Giovanni Ribisi, and both of his daughters Marissa and Gina, are professional Television and Film actors.
- Bruce Eason is an insurance agent and a director in The Men's 12th Step House, a center for recovering alcoholics in Long Beach, California and is an actor appearing in the forth-coming movies “Big Top” and “Lost in Transit: The Junkyard Willie Movie”.  
- John Tristao "has reached rarefied air encountered by few others in rock 'n' roll. He is currently the frontman for Creedance Clearwater Revisited, the band that features original CCR bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford, and spreads the joyous sound of all those chart-topping Creedence Clearwater Revival songs to the faithful around the world. Before being tapped by Creedence, Tristao had logged many years with San Jose hitmakers People! and West Coast faves Daddy-o. John has also released several of his own albums including Big Hat, No Cattle and his double edged CD/DVD release FEED THE NEED.. If you like motorcycles this CD/DVD combo will get your motor running by one of Rock and Roll's'' most extraordinary vocalist and songwriters. He was inducted into the San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame in October 2006.
- Tom Tucker played lead guitar after Geoff Levin departed.
- David Anderson came up with the name People! and was an original founding member. He has been a fixture in the Bay Area music scene for years as a writer and a performer and has shared the stage with the likes of John Prine, Richard Thompson, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Tish Hinojosa, Iris DeMente and Cate Curtis. He has showcased at KPIG Fat Fry, The San Francisco Folk Festival and The High Sierra Folk Festival.
- John Riolo's drumming and singing provided a solid foundation for People! until he retired to finish school. John studied Vocal Technique, Archeology, and draft evasion at the University of California Berkeley. Riolo continued to play drums, keyboards, guitar, and sing professionally and worked in dozens of Rock Bands around the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the Western United States. He produced his own music in San Francisco, Johnny and the Soulbirds a triple album playing all instruments. John received serious spiritual training from the Jesuit Christians, enjoyed several of Ron Hubbard's works, seriously studied all world religions and philosophies, and became an expert in Yoga and Meditation under the inspiration and guidance of Sri Chinmoy and Sri Aurobino. John was part of the San Francisco Rock Music scene for many years, constructed and lived in his massive tree house for eleven years in Oregon, and now owns a Custom Drum Company specializing in rock and roll drum sets, Riolo Custom Drums
- Pete Grant played bass for People! when Robb Levin was ill for a five or six engagements.
- Gary Burris played bass for a four hour time period in the 1974 version of People!
- Gary Pomeroy played lead guitar for a four hour time period in the 1974 version of People!
Singles (45 rpm)
Title (A Side/B Side) (Label Number) Year
- "Organ Grinder"/"Riding High" (Capitol 5920) 1967
- "I Love You"/"Somebody Tell Me My Name" (Capitol 2078) 1968
- "Apple Cider"/Ashes Of Me (Capitol 2251) 1968
- "Ulla"/Turnin' Me In (Capitol 2449) 1969
- "Turnin' Me In"/Ulla (Capitol 2499) 1969
- Love Will Take Us Higher & Higher/Living It Up (Paramount 0005) 1969
- Sunshine Lady/Crosstown Bus (Paramount 0011) 1969
- For What It's Worth/Maple Street (Paramount 0019) 1970
- One Chain Don't Make No Prison/Keep It Alive (Paramount 0028) 1970
- Chant For Peace/I Don't Carry No Guns (Polydor 14087) 1971
- I Love You (Re-Issue)/Nobody But Me (The Human Beinz) (Capitol P4482 and X-6224)
- I Love You (1968) (Capitol ST-2924) CD Re-Release (1994) (Capitol CDP-29797)
- Songs: 1000 Years B.C./ Nothing Can Stop the Elephants/ Ashes of Me/ Crying Shoes
- I Love You/ What We Need is a Lot More Jesus (And a Lot Less Rock & Roll)/ The Epic
- Both Sides of People (1969) (Capitol ST-151)
- Songs: I've Got You On My Mind/ Hasty Heart/ You'll Never Know For Sure/ Think/ Hey Sweetheart/
- Lucky John/ She's A Dancer/ Pirate Bill
- There Are People and There Are People (1970) (Paramount PAS-5013)
- Songs: For What It's Worth/Crosstown Bus/How Does It Feel/We're Off To See The Wizard/There's A Man
- Miss Jane/The Other Side/Maple Street/Sunshine Lady/It's Making Me Crazy/The Willie Tell Experience
- Larry Norman and People! - The Israel Tapes 1974 A.D. (1980) (Phydeaux WOOF-999-1)
- Songs: Fly, Fly, Fly/ I Love You (Chris White)/ I Love You (Larry Norman/ Randy Stonehill)/
- I Am The Six O'clock News/ Lonely By Myself/ Baroquen Spirits/ You Knew What You Were Doing/
- Forget Your Hexagram/ I've Searched All Around The World/ Sweet Song Of Salvation
- Best of People Vol. 1 - 40 Year Anniversary (2006) (Solid Rock CD-SRP-001)
- Songs: Riding High/ Organ Grinder/ Hasty Heart/ I've Got You on My Mind/ Somebody Tell Me My Name/
- I Love You/ Ashes of Me/ She's a Dancer/ Crying Shoes/ The Epic
- Best of People Vol. 2 - 40 Year Anniversary (2006) (Solid Rock CD-SRP-002)
- Songs: 1000 Years Before Christ/Hey Sweetheart/Nothing Can Stop the Elephants/Opposite Me/
- We Need a Whole Lot More of Jesus/Giant Man/She's a Dancer/Think/Apple Cider/Hungarian Rhapsody
- People! The Reunion Concert 2006 (2007) (Solid Rock)
- Songs: I Love You/ Riding High/ Cryin' Shoes/ Somebody Tell Me My Name/ She's A Dancer/
- Hey Sweetheart/ I've Got You On My Mind/ We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus/ Hasty Heart/
- Why Don't You Look Into Jesus/ Twelve Good Men
- I Love You Korea (2007) (Solid Rock ILY-001)
- Songs: 1000 Years Before Christ/ Nothing Can Stop the Elephants/ Ashes of Me/ Crying Shoes
- I Love You/ What We Need is a Lot More Jesus And a Lot Less Rock & Roll/ The Epic
This album is a high quality Japan and South Korea release from the original Capitol Records CD re-release of 1994 of their inaugural album "I Love You." Liner notes are written by Larry Norman and explain the origin and significance of each song.
- The Best of People! 40 Year Anniversary Vol. 1 Songbook with Lyrics and Notes (2006)
- The Best of People! 40 Year Anniversary Vol. 2 Songbook with Lyrics and Notes (2006)