1962: Clipper Cowbridge

1963: The Swiss Invasion

1965: Marilyn Kaye

1969: The Fold

1970: Yorgi

1971: Devon Shire

1972: Sandee Saunders

1976: Rockfinger

1978: The Spooky Bunch

1979: Decoupage

1981: Bleep

1984: Tiger Love

1985: Laryssa Foxxx

1986: Smasher of Things

1987: Suthrn Cuzn

1989: ~pianogirl~

1990: Razorflesh

1995: Breaker Bear

1996: Action Plus

1998: J Lounge

2001: Eesk

2004: Lazarus Project

Clipper Cowbridge: The Beethoven of Burps (1962)

CLUBBO’S FIRST HIT was an improbable novelty song by an even more improbable artist: experimental composer and acoustician Clipper Cowbridge.

In 1962, Cowbridge responded to Clubbo’s ad seeking an engineer who could scrub the smutty content from an earlier stag record and replace it with “crazy sounds for the kids.” For better or worse, the resulting track, “Soda Pop Shop,” cemented Cowbridge’s, Bogerman’s, and Clubbo’s reputations.

The song clicked with the teen set and rescued the newborn label from financial crib death. It remains a staple of oldies and novelty radio programming.

EXTRA! A rare interview with the Beethoven of Burps!

Soda Pop Shop

“Soda Pop Shop” lyrics and credits


The gray fright wig didn’t even fit. The clunky glasses were strictly cosmetic. The photographer purchased the white lab coat on his way to the photo shoot.

But even if his costume was bogus, Clipper Cowbridge truly was something of the mad scientist he was made up to resemble. And the story of how he created the novelty hit that put Clubbo Records on the map is — well, if not stranger than fiction, then at least pretty damn weird.

In 1961, Chet Clubb and Morris “Bo” Bogerman were in dire straits. Their Gent Records, which specialized in smutty, under-the-counter stag records, had run afoul of both the government and the New York mobsters who ran the porn industry. The pair literally fled for their lives, opening a new office in Hollywood under a new name, Clubbo. Their goal: Elevate the business above counter-level via successful mainstream releases.

But funds were scarce, so Bogerman devised the cost-effective plan of retooling an unfinished track by Gent’s most successful “artist,” Professor Randy. He placed an ad in the trades seeking an audio engineer capable of revamping Professor Randy’s “Itty Bitty Titties” into a teen hit, and Cowbridge responded.

Clipper was as hard up as Clubbo. A highly trained composer and acoustician who had studied at Harvard with Stanislav Turetsky and later with Patrice Chennaud at L’Institut pour la Musique Nouveau et Sauvage (IMNS) in Paris, Cowbridge had recently been denied tenure at the University of Southern California, and was desperate for work.

As Cowbridge would later recount, Bogerman’s sole directives were to “Nix the French words and add some crazy sounds for the kids.” Under pressure, Cowbridge drew his inspiration from a seemingly unlikely source. As he recently told journalist Alan Asch:

“As I racked my mind for an alternative approach, I recalled Die Verdauungsstörung, a found-sound composition by Uwe Schelling, one of my colleagues at IMNS. His sole sound sources had been the noises of his own digestive tract. Schelling had devised a waterproofed transducer small enough to swallow, and had recorded his stomach from the inside before vomiting the microphone back up. I proceeded in a different direction, supplementing the sounds of my own burps with germane sound effects — hands rubbing on balloons, nails pulled from wooden planks, and so forth.”

[read full interview…]

In this age of digital miracles, it’s essential to remember that Cowbridge’s “storm of burps” assemblage was a tape-splicing tour-de-force, one that’s been studied in excruciating detail by several generations of would-be audio wizards. Few would argue that these sounds made “Soda Pop Shop” a novelty smash that, out of the blue, catapulted Clubbo into the black. (At least until Bogerman’s next catastrophic misstep.)

You certainly can’t credit the song’s success to Cowbridge’s tuneless afterthought of a vocal, or a set of lyrics already quaintly passé by the early ’60s. After all, Cowbridge hadn’t been a teenager for a decade, and even then he was surely too busy slinging a slide rule to have rocked, rumbled, or loitered in “soda pop shops.” (The lingo, no doubt, is a vestige of Cowbridge’s Canton, Ohio, upbringing.)

After “Soda Pop Shop” clicked with the kids, Bogerman persuaded Cowbridge to take the tune on the road. Having previously succeeded — relatively speaking — with Professor Randy’s pseudo-academic persona, Bogerman insisted that Cowbridge adopt his soon-to-be-trademark mad-scientist look. Clipper gamely played the role for a year or so, but soon became bored by the touring life and impatient with Bogerman’s ideas for such patently derivative sequels as “Mr. Heartburn.”

Now steeped in both the academic and popular music worlds — and alienated by both — Cowbridge embarked on a quiet but successful career designing cutting-edge audio systems. To this day you can find him the same place you’d find any other mad scientist: in his lab.