Gary Puckett & The Union Gap (initially credited as The Union Gap featuring Gary Puckett) was an American pop rock group operating in the late 1960s. Allmusic music journalist, Jason Ankeny states "Clad in Civil War era Union Army uniforms (complete with fictitious military ranks) and bizarrely pedophilic lyrics, Puckett and the Union Gap were in their own way as far-out and singular as any other act of the period." Frontman Gary Puckett (born October 17, 1942, Hibbing, Minnesota) grew up in Yakima, Washington (adjacent to the city of Union Gap) and Twin Falls, Idaho, graduating from Twin Falls High School. He picked up the guitar as a teenager, and while attending college in San Diego played in a number of local bands before quitting school to focus on music. Puckett eventually landed with the Outcasts, a hard rock group comprised of bassist Kerry Chater, keyboardist Gary 'Mutha' Withem, tenor saxophonist Dwight Bement, and drummer Paul Wheatbread.
A demo was recorded, and the band's manager arranged a meeting with CBS record producer, Jerry Fuller. Impressed by Puckett's soaring baritone, Fuller also admired their soft rock leanings and in 1967, and they were quickly signed to a recording contract by Columbia Records. Re-christened the Union Gap, on August 16, 1967, the band recorded its first single, "Woman Woman." It was their first hit, and "Woman, Woman" (written by Jim Glaser and Jimmy Payne) reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was a million-seller by February 1968 with gold disc status. Concurrent CBS press releases gave each member his own imaginary military rank — Puckett was the general, Bement the sergeant, Chater the corporal, and both Withem and Wheatbread were relegated to private.
This was followed during the next two years by "Young Girl" (#2), "Lady Willpower" (#2), "Over You" (#7) and "Don't Give In To Him" (#15). "Young Girl", written by Fuller, had the age-old theme of the temptation of underage romance: "My love for you is way out of line/you better run, girl, you're much too young, girl," an anguished Puckett wailed. Controversial at the time, it was dramatically delivered in Puckett's trademark tones and with a memorable strings and brass arrangement, the song was an instant classic and is still much played on radio today.
"Young Girl" was the second million selling disc for the band, which it reached less than two months after issue. Both "Lady Willpower" and "Over You" continued the gold disc run of form. In 1969 the band were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist; losing out to José Feliciano.
After the Union Gap was disbanded, Puckett had modest success as a solo artist, mostly performing and re-recording the band's songs. A comeback tour engineered by music writer Thomas K. Arnold brought him to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1981, and from that point on he became a regular on the national oldies circuit. He has also released some new material, including a 2001 holiday album entitled Gary Puckett at Christmas. In 1994 and 2002 Puckett performed at the Moondance Jam near Walker, Minnesota. As of 2007, Puckett continues to perform live concerts in venues across the U.S., including "package" oldies circuit tours with The Association and The Lettermen. [wikipedia]