After seeing the Reggie Mantle interview on Peter Pan's Lemonade Stand I decided
to try and see if any of the other members of the Archies would care to comment.
I got to talk to all of them but nothing but a few polite answers. Veronica avoided saying anything about Jughead or Reggie. Just said she has kept in touch with them. The surprise was when I got Jughead on the phone. He may not have wanted to talk about the group in the past but he seems to have over come his shyness. Jughead is married with two kids. He accepted Jesus Christ and moved back to Riverdale.
On My Mind: Have you seen the interview that Reggie gave?
Jughead Jones: Yes and it was fairly accurate. He did leave out some things.
OMM: Really! Like what?
JJ: I’m sure that he left them out for good reasons. Next question please.
OMM: You haven’t been open to interviews, at least not after the break up. Why do an interview now?
JJ: I don’t know really. Nostalgia I guess.
OMM: Well first I have to ask why did you always wear a beanie?
JJ: I didn’t always wear it. I had it as a kid and kept it as sort of a good luck charm. I usually kept it in my back pocket. When Mr. Lodge set up an audition with Don Kirshner for the group I had it in my pocket. Before we went in Reggie bet me a plate of hamburgers I wouldn’t wear it at the audition. Well my love of burgers is well known so you know I wore it at the audition. Don loved it and said he didn’t ever want to see me with out that beanie.
OMM: You didn’t mind wearing it all the time?
JJ: Not at first but it killed me when they made a cartoon out of us for Saturday morning. I now understand why Mike got rid of his wool hat.
OMM: You mean Nesmith of the Monkees?
JJ: Yeah! He got rid of his hat because he was afraid they were making a cartoon character out of him. Well they really did with me. I talked to Mike not long after our first album came out. He told me I need to get rid of the beanie. I told him I didn’t mind wearing it. Besides Don had me sign a special contract that said I would always wear it in publicity photos and in concert. I guess he wanted to make sure he wouldn’t have the problems with me that he had with Mike.
OMM: So what caused the break up of the Archies?
JJ: Well we were just 5 kids from a small town. Just barely able to drive. Fame and money came too fast. Almost all of us spent the money as fast as we made it. Betty actually kept most of her share. Archie wouldn’t have kept much. But when he and Betty got married she took control of the finances.
OMM: Exactly when did Archie and Betty get married?
JJ: A few months before the break up of the group. A year later they gave birth to their little girl. Not long after that they had a little boy.
OMM: I remember reading somewhere that when the group started that you played guitar and Reggie played the drums. Why did you two change?
JJ: That happened at the recording session for “Sugar, Sugar.” First you have to understand that we played different instruments in the Andrews garage. We all took turns at each instrument till we found the ones that we liked and felt was our strongest contribution to the group. During “Sugar, Sugar” Reggie had trouble with the beat and I had problems with a couple of cords. So we switched just to help each other out. Jeff Berry the writer and producer of the song heard us and said to record it that way. There was also a photographer there taking pictures for a fan magazine. I think it was Tiger Beat. Anyway, once the pictures got published I was officially the drummer.
OMM: How did Reggie take the change?
JJ: Not well at first. Then, when we were in concert, he saw that no one could see me from behind the drums. Suddenly he was glad his face wasn’t hid behind the guitar.
OMM: Which Archies song is you favorite?
JJ: “Jingle, Jangle” Archie has a great voice but Betty took the lead on that song. She has a great voice. Reggie did the deep echo in the background.
OMM: What did you all think when Archie started his new group?
JJ: You mean the Cuff Links? I can’t speak for Reg and Ronnie but I was happy that he kept himself busy. Betty was actually behind that. She said he sat around feeling down in the dumps over the break up. She told him to start a new group. So he did.
OMM: What did you do after the Archies?
JJ: For awhile I was a studio musician. I really loved playing the guitar and wanted to be hired for that skill. But no one is going to hire a drummer to play the guitar. I was about to give up when I finally got my first job.
OMM: Who hired you?
OMM: He wasn’t mad that you took Ronnie from him.
JJ: No! He was happily married to Betty with little Tracy. Ronnie and I didn’t last anyway. When we both quit the drugs the relationship was over.
OMM: Archie named his girl Tracy?
JJ: Yep! He wrote the song “Tracy” about his love for his daughter.
OMM: Is that the song you play on?
JJ: Sadly no. I am playing on “When Julie Comes Around.” I actually think that is a better song but “Tracy” is the one that still turns up on radio stations.
OMM: Did you ever play drums for anyone else?
JJ: Well I had to eat and as you know I have a big appetite. I played them for Vanity Fare on the song “Hitchin A Ride.”
OMM: I heard a rumor that the Archies almost got back together in the 80’s but Reggie almost overdosed before the first concert.
JJ: Actually we almost did twice in the 80’s. The time you are talking about was in 1981. We had a summer tour set up and the day before the concert I found Reggie passed out in the back of the tour bus. We canceled the tour and sent him to Betty Ford. The media had a field day with it. When the cameras weren’t anywhere near us, it was Veronica who said “I can’t believe these people. The health of a friend is more important then making money from a reunion tour.” She sure has changed for the better over the years. That is one of the things Reggie left out of his interview.
OMM: What else did he leave out?
At this point Jughead grows silent. It is along wait until he finally blurts out some shocking news.
JJ: Reggie is who I was getting my drugs from. There that’s off my chest now.
OMM: No one else knew this?
JJ: No I never even told Ronnie. I was afraid she would dump me and take up with Reg if she knew.
OMM: I hear that you have all kept in touch. Don’t you think this news coming out will hurt your friendships?
JJ: No that was us at our worst. We have all come along way since then.
OMM: You said the Archies almost reunited twice in the 80’s. When was the second time?
JJ: It was 1986. Archie said if the Monkees can do it then we can too. Sad to say I stopped the reunion then. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for a tour. Reggie pointed out that it wasn’t all of the Monkees that got back together so the Archies could do it with out me. Archie wanted the whole gang. He said it was all of us or none of us.
So that stopped the 1986 reunion.
OMM: So what are you guys up to now?
JJ: Well you know Reggie is a record producer. He said that he’s producing the Banana Splits reunion CD. Veronica is running Lodge Enterprises. Hey did you know that, after the Archies and before the Cuff Links, Betty and Veronica tried to make it as a duo? They did a small tour and called themselves “The Cooper Lodge.”
OMM: You’re kidding right?
JJ: Nope it’s true. They toured only two months. Ticket sales were poor and they kept getting questions about the Archies that they didn’t want to answer at the time. So Betty stayed home to raise the kids and Veronica ran Lodge Enterprises. I moved back to Riverdale and bought Pop Tate’s. My wife actually runs the shop. She’s afraid we’ll go broke if I’m left alone with the food. Archie went to work for his Dad’s company. He did make occasional records and on weekends did a solo act. He didn’t want to do the group thing anymore. After the first album with the Cuff Links he was kicked out of the group.
OMM: Why was he kicked out of the Cuff Links?
JJ: I don’t know. He just said he came into the studio one day and was told he was out and some guy named Holmes was in. After that he said he didn’t want to be part of any groups.
OMM: Where can we get Archie’s music and see him on tour?
JJ: Well Arch is going to be at Kleats Stadium right here in Riverdale this Friday night. It’s a benefit for the Weatherbee Education fund. We’re going to go see him play. Maybe I can give you a call and tell you about it? If you want to buy his CD’s you can get them on line. Archie stayed friends with a guy who sang back up on our albums. Maybe you have heard of him. Ron Dante? You can go to his site at Ron Dante.com
OMM: That would be great.
With that Jughead had to go. It was great talking to a living legend.