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Dancing Raisins “Heard It Through the Grapevine”

| November 3, 2010 | 0 Comments

Who’d have ever thought that a beloved Motown classic would be brought back to life by a bunch of animated dried fruit? But in 1986, that’s just what happened when the California Raisin Advisory Board launched a series of ads by the California Raisins, a group that existed only in Claymation. Like the Archies before them, the imaginary band was a hit. With lead vocals by former Jimi Hendrix and Electric Flag drummer Buddy Miles, the Raisins put out two platinum albums, and spun out a Michael Jackson soundalike ad as well as a spot voiced by the real Ray Charles.

The ads’ storyboards were pretty simple: A bunch of raisins dance in a line across the screen, grooving to the Motown sound that had been rejuvenated by the success of The Big Chill’s 6 million-selling soundtrack. The lead singer is wailing, wearing shades—naturally, since they were “raised in the California sunshine.” Was Marvin Gaye spinning in his grave? Possibly, but in their own sweet, silly way, these spots conveyed a sense of mindless fun and gave the humble raisin its moment in the sun.

From Performing Songwriter Issue 111, July/Aug 2008

Category: Best of PS

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