Although this song was never a big hit nationally, it enjoyed success in the Chicago area (the band was from Illinois) and Hawaii, my exposure to it probably came from WFIL in Chicago, one of those stations I loved to reel in at night from Yarmouth, Maine. The website Jamestown Massacre History had this to say about the band’s start:
“Glenn Messmer (drums), Mark Zapel (bass) and John Gilleran (guitar & vocals) founded The Jamestown Massacre in 1967. Hailing from Downers Grove, IL, they agreed to play at Downers Grove Youth Center monthly in exchange for rehearsal space. In 1968, V.J Comforte (lead vocals) and Dennis Carlson (lead guitar and vocals) joined the band, along with Naperville resident Dave Bickler (lead vocals, flute, harmonica & trumpet). In early 1969, Jeff Quinn (organ, trumpet & vocals) from Glen Ellyn was recruited to round out the lineup.
From 1968 to 1974, Jamestown Massacre played at nearly every teen club, youth center, high school and college in and around Chicago. The band featured excellent vocal harmonies and prided itself on the ability to play a wide variety of styles of music, copying original artists very closely. Through challenging songs made popular by Three Dog Night, Chicago, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Deep Purple, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, “The Massacre” generated a loyal following while honing their musical skills.
During this period, Jamestown Massacre was also developing its own material and unique sound. In their first recording session at Chicago’s Paragon Studios in August 1970, they recorded two original songs. Concurrently, they then began work with a local advertising jingle producer on commercials for Schlitz Malt Liquor and Nestlé’s Crunch. From late 1970 to 1971, the Band did numerous recording sessions at Chicago’s famous Chess Studios, and in the summer of 1971, released its first single on the Destination label called “Comin’ Home to You.”
In the spring of 1972, the group traveled to Detroit and recorded six tunes, one of which was “Summer Sun.” The song was quickly released locally on the LUV label and was soon after picked up by Warner Brothers records and sold around the world. “Summer Sun” was a major hit not only in Chicago, but also in other markets across the United States including Hawaii, where it held a number one chart position for six weeks. In as far away as Japan, “Summer Sun” reached #18 on the major Tokyo radio play list.”
If the name Dave Bickler doesn’t ring a bell, you would also hear his voice on several Survivor songs, including their biggest hit “Eye Of The Tiger”. After singing with Jamestown Massacre, Dave would join forces with Jim Peterik (Ides of March) to form Survivor.
One of the best examples of sunshine pop music that I can think of, still love to play it!