King of Fuh
by Tom Frangione
Tom Frangione had a rare opportunity to speak with Stephen Friedland, AKA 'Brute Force' the man responsible for perhaps the rarest single the Apple label ever produced.
He, or more accurately, his song came to the attention of The Beatles via a tape acquired from Nat Weiss, an attorney who was a close friend, confidant, and advisor to Brian Epstein. Weiss was given a demo of the curiously titled “King of Fuh” whose wordplay caught the fancy of both George Harrison and John Lennon, who championed its release on Apple. Harrison arranged for some strings to be dubbed on to the tape, and it was assigned catalog number Apple 8 in May of 1969, but never received widespread distribution due to the lyrical pun (he would be the Fuh King, right?). Lennon was furious, decrying Apple manager Ken Mansfield a “tight assed censor”. Neither radio nor retail would touch it, so a mail order channel was established by label President Jack Oliver. The number of copies estimated to have made it out ranges from 1000-3000, and as such, it remains one of the most collectible of all Apple releases.
Prior to his appearance on Apple in 1969, Brute (a New Jersey native) wrote songs that were recorded by The Tokens, The Cyrkle, Del Shannon and The Chiffons, and released the album “I, Brute Force: Confections of Love””, which has garnered cult status in the years since.
In recent years, the song and it’s flip-side “Nobody Knows” have been released as bonus cuts on a couple of Brute Force recordings, various compilations from the era, with the A-side finally getting its turn in the spotlight on 2010’s “Best of Apple Records” collection.
At the 2016 NY Beatles FEST, Brute performed an afternoon set on the Apple Jam stage with his band (a decidedly family affair, with his daughter and grandson joining the proceedings), and sat down for a chat with our own Tee Eff to discuss his philosophy on life, music and happiness, as well as his association at Apple. The session ended with Brute, accompanied by Tee on guitar, leading a sing-along version of “King of Fuh”.
All Hail - All Hail! The Mighty Fuh King!!!