The Bitter Sweets

The Bittersweets, Arizona
“The Bittersweets, taken under Butterfly Rock on top of South Mountain. That’s Bob Sutko, lead singer, Paul Bennett, drums, Skip Ladd, lead guitar, Alan Chitwood, bass, & Greg Farley, rhythm guitar.” – Skip Ladd

Bittersweets Hype 45 She Treats Me BadBob Sutko vocals and harmonica, Greg Farley guitar, Allan Chitwood bass and Paul Bennett drums were the Bitter Sweets of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Their first single is the slow and melancholy “She Treats Me Bad”, written by Bob Sutko and Paul Bennett with P. Boynton. I’m not sure who P. Boynton was, but a Tony Boynton played with another Phoenix group, the Young Men. It was released in June or July of 1966 on the Hype label.

For the flip, “Cry Your Eyes Out”, Sutko and Farley wrote new lyrics to the music of the Byrds’ “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better”, and it worked well enough to reach the charts on KRUX AM in Phoenix in September of ’66.

A few months later they released “She Treats Me Bad” again on the Chari label a with a different b-side, “Road to Rann”, written by Bob Sutko and Allan Chitwood. By this time Paul “Skip” Ladd from the Laser Beats joined on lead guitar.

Bittersweets Hype 45 Cry Your Eyes Out

Bittersweets Chari 45 She Treats Me Bad
Second release of “She Treats Me Bad”

Skip Ladd wrote to me:

The manager Chari Zelman hired me to change the sound of the Bitter Sweets because they sounded too much like the Byrds. I wasn’t on the Hype label 45 and hated playing “She Treats Me Bad”, depressing, but it was a gig and loved playing lead guitar with Twentieth Century Zoo. I wrote the oboe parts, played 12 string parts, and the piano parts, wrote and sang the harmony parts when I was 18.

Bittersweets Chari 45 Road to Rann“Road To Rann” was recorded at Audio Recorders on 7th Street in Phoenix. Only rock song to start with an oboe solo.

The band moved out to Los Angeles in 1967 and released one final 45 on Original Sound: “In the Night” / “Another Chance”, both written by written by T. Evans and Bob Sutko. After this 45, the band became the Twentieth Century Zoo with two 45s on Chari A. Zellman’s CAZ label, plus two more singles and an LP Thunder on a Clear Day on Vault. At some point Randy Wells replaced Paul Bennett on drums.

The Chari and Original Sound 45s list the band as one word, the Bittersweets.

According to a comment below, Bob Sutko and Paul Bennett have passed away.

Thank you to Garry Baur for the scans of the Chari and Original Sound 45s and to Skip Ladd for the photo of the band.

Bittersweets Original Sound 45 In the Night

Bittersweets Original Sound 45 Another Chance

15 thoughts on “The Bitter Sweets”

  1. “Cry Your Eyes Out” also smacks of the Searchers’ “Needles and Pins,” especially the intro. I actually think it’s more like the Searchers tune than “Feel a Whole Lot Better.”

    Obviously this band is different than both the all-girl Bittersweets who recorded “The Hurtin’ Kind” and Bit ‘a’ Sweet of “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” fame.

  2. Yes, Greg and I have most of the 45’s and albums they cut. “Clean Old Man” was number 10 here on the charts at one time, as I recall. I never had “The Road to Rann”. He and our daughter have most of the band pictures. Unfortunately, Bob and Paul died. Live and in person, there was no one like them. From psychadelic to blues to you name it. And talk about showmanship, they were intense and wild and brought in big crowds all over the Phoenix valley, for years. However, I’ll need to check with Greg before I do anything. Carmella

  3. Just for the sake of accuracy, “Cry Your Eyes Out” was written and done before the Byrds “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” was ever heard on the radio. Also the band never moved to L.A. I know, I was there. It’s good to see them on this site. This band was absolutely incredible!

  4. Hi Carmelia,

    According to an authority on garage releases (MTM), the Bitter Sweets’ Cry Your Eyes Out was released in June or July of ’66, while the Byrds’ Feel a Whole Lot Better was a hit on the charts by July of 1965, a full year earlier. It could be that Cry Your Eyes Out was recorded some time before the release date, but a whole year would be unusual.

    Maybe you’re right about the band not moving out to LA. Greg Farley, Allan Chitwood and Paul Bennett were members of the Twentieth Century Zoo, and their lp was definitely recorded in LA.

  5. I was just trying to correct some info. as you requested on this site. Carmella Farley (Greg’s ex) I believe this makes me an authority HA HA I love this site

  6. Hey Carmelia,

    You’re right, you were there and I wasn’t. This record is pretty mellow, what were they like live? Do you have any of their records or photos of the band? I’d still like to hear Road to Rann, or the last one, In the Night / Another Chance.

  7. Carmella,

    I’m Bob’s sister. I have some of the original releases & album by the Zoo. I am looking for a copy of “In the Night”. Know anyone who has one?

    PS You may not remember me because I was a little younger, but I remember you!

    Terri

  8. “In the Night” was the “B” side of one of our 45’s. In Yuma, AZ it was put higher up on the charts the week we rolled into town there. Bob’s sister, no kidding Terri, you must have been crawling around the living room when I was parents house with Bob. Don’t have any extra copies, but there may be one in an envelope around here somewhere.

  9. i recently purchased a cd titled legend city and saw your name and i remember you cuz i lived across the street from bill and sherry and the kids mike and tim… my mom would baby sit tim every now and then and have him come over to our house. i remember you as a musican playing in your garage… Ron my brother just told me your name is actully paul but i always knew you as skip…
    anyway, email me if you want… trippy going down memory lane… my folks are now gone but Ron still lives in the house we grew up in and i’m married living in scottsdale… my husband plays guitar but not professionally… we do know sage-gentle-wing though.
    email me if you want…

    thanks,

    Darla

    1. Pat glad to hear that you’re still going buddy this is Roger Begley I don’t know who this Skippy ladd is but he sure sounds like he is full of himself i’m still going strong and doing well aerospace quality consultant currently contracted in Utah I’ll be home in prescott in about two weeks still love Arizona buddy

      1. I left the Bittersweets and joined the Marine Corps in Sept. 1966. Still going strong (Retired) in Prescott AZ.
        So sorry to hear about Bob and Paul there’s a lot of great memories I hope Greg and Allen are still with us.
        Roger

  10. The Bittersweets started as a surf band.”The 5 Ways”.Roger Begley left and I replaced him.”Cry your Eyes out”was definitely after the Byrds song,as “Feel a whole lot Better” was on our list.We played the exibition building at the fairgrounds with The Spyders,and many teen clubs and dances.Bob did some soul numbers,Alan Chitwood did “Hey little Girl”,and “Hey Joe”Roger played my 12 string Mosrite on “CRY your Eyes out”,and I replaced him not long after.I was in a band with Greg last year,”The Toomstoners”with Gary Ammann,the first drummer for “The Surf Tones”which was the original incarnation,with Greg,Alan,and Roger.Good times,my first taste of fame,later on I played with Floyd& Jerry,and Goose Creek Symphony.The band was a lot of fun,but Chari did not dig me that much,and Skippy was hired.C’est la vie!Glad to see some old peeps out there!

  11. Bob Sutko and Roger Begley went to Carl Hayden High School and Alan Chitwood and Greg Farley went to South Mountain. Begley lived in South Phoenix. I attend Carl Hayden for a year ’66 – ’67 and South Mountain from ’63 – ’66 and ’67 – 68 (5 year plan) and knew these guys. I bought my first motorcycle from Greg and we would ride together sometimes. Sorry to hear about Bob. I wonder what happened to the other guys.

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