"Lucky is the collector today who finds a 45 copy of the obscure 1969 garage/psych record, 'Nobody Loves the Hulk' (QNS 101)," writes Mark McDermott in the book Web-Spinning Heroics: Critical Essays on the History and Meaning of Spider-Man. Music Weird recently tracked down the song's composer, Rosalind Rogoff, to find out the story behind this sought-after comic-book novelty record.
Recorded by a band called the Traits (not Roy Head's band), "Nobody Loves the Hulk" is surprisingly well remembered when you consider that Rogoff sold it exclusively through an ad in the back of Marvel comic books, and that only a few hundred copies sold during its initial run.
A few videos of the song appear on YouTube (one of them is below), and the record is featured in Kirk Demarais' extremely entertaining book Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads!. It’s also included in two anthologies of '60s psychedelic and garage rock: volume 21 of the Pebbles series and volume 4 of the Glimpses series.
The song was later recorded by at least two other bands. Swedish garage rockers the Maggots recorded it in 2006 for a single that was issued with two different sleeves, one of which is very similar to the Traits' original single. A free-jazz group, the Tight Meat Duo, recorded the song in 2007.
Rogoff lived in New Rochelle, New York, in the late '60s and hired the Traits, a local garage band, to record the song. Around that time, the Traits also contributed a song called "High on a Cloud" to the compilation album Ran-Vell Records Presents Battle of the Bands Vol. 1. Ran-Vell was a label/studio in White Plains, New York. The album says that the Traits were from Pelham, not New Rochelle, but Pelham is only a couple of miles away from New Rochelle. The album lists the members of the Traits as:
Mike Carrol, vocalsAfter giving up on the music business, Rogoff became a technical communicator and wrote a book about instructional design in the 1980s. Today she writes the blog San Ramon Observer and seems like someone I'd enjoy hanging out with if I ran into her at a Society for Technical Communication meeting.
Don Chicherchia, guitar
Bob Creaturo, guitar
Jim Klieforth, organ
Bobby Williams, drums
Music Weird's interview with Rosalind Rogoff took place between October 5-7, 2014.
Tell us about the recording session for "Nobody Loves the Hulk."
The group that recorded the record was called "The Traits.” They were a high school garage band in New Rochelle, where I lived at that time. The high school band teacher gave me the contact info. I don’t remember the names of the guys in the band. There were five or six of them. I recorded the song at a studio in New Rochelle and the record was pressed by Capitol, which gave me the best price for 45s.
What inspired you to create a Hulk-related novelty record?
I was a nerd then and still am. I’m not as nerdy as the Big Bang Theory guys are, but I was very much into comics when I was in my twenties. My mother kept telling me to get rid of all the old comics I saved, so I sold them to some guys for $25. I knew they would be worth a lot more in a few years, but it made my mother happy.
Did you sell the single only through comic book ads?
I advertised it in Marvel Comics and had about 2,000 copies made. I sold a few hundred and donated a bunch to the Fire Department as Christmas Gifts and sold the remainder to a collectables store. Many were later found in a warehouse, but I don’t know what happened to them after that. I kept one copy for myself. It’s not terrible, but I prefer not to associate myself with it. It’s part of my unsuccessful, entrepreneurial past.
|The original ad for "Nobody Loves the Hulk"|
The book Mail-Order Mysteries describes the record as an "unauthorized" tribute to the Hulk. Did you get permission from Marvel to use the Hulk name and image?
You will see credit given to Marvel on the record sleeve for permission to use the Hulk name and image.
Did you play an instrument? If not, how did you communicate the song to the Traits?
I wrote the music and lyrics but I didn’t play an instrument in the group. One of the guys in the Traits did the arrangement, but I don’t recall any of their names. I also recorded a song one of them wrote for them to use as a demo. I don’t have a copy of it.
The B-side was another song that you wrote called "Better Things." What's the story with that?
“Better Things” was an anti-Vietnam war song, but could apply to any of the stupid wars we’ve had since.
"Nobody Loves the Hulk" is often categorized as a psychedelic/garage rock record. Was that the kind of record you set out to make?
It’s certainly not psychedelic rock, or at least not on my part. I considered it a gag or novelty song and hoped it would catch on with Hulk fans and make a lot of money.
What kind of music were you listening to back then?
I liked jazz and the great American songbook. I had a big collection of 78s of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong Hot 5 and Hot 7, Red Nichols, Benny Goodman, and Bix Beiderbecke. I wasn’t into rock at all back then. This was strictly an economic venture.
Did you know that other artists had recorded this song?
I did not know it was ever recorded again. They [the Maggots] did a pretty faithful reproduction. My copyright expired in 1997. I didn’t renew it, so the song is probably public domain now. I received some small royalties from BMI for radio plays after I mailed copies around, mostly to college stations. I didn’t get anything after 1970. I’m not sure if I’m even still a member of BMI. I never renewed that either.