|"I like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch..." #iconic|
Image, A&F Summer 2015, photographer Guy Aroch; edited by C.E.R.
Recorded in 1998, the basis to "Summer Girls" was written by band leader Rich Cronin at a time when he was feeling uncertain and discontent, after a three-year European tour with his band under BMG Records, over the considerable lack of freedom and restrictions on his creative and personal expression when it came to being a performing artist: "But as Cronin sat in his parents' unfinished basement on his father's Soloflex machine, watching spiders crawl around his feet and feeling depressed, he unwittingly wrote LFO's ticket to fame. 'I just thought back to when I was young, happy, no worries,' he [said]. ''Summer Girls' was all about a summer on the Cape. Inside jokes. I never thought that anyone besides my close friends would ever hear it.'" The song that otherwise would have never become a pop culture icon was leaked to a Washington D.C. radio station - Dale O'Brian finally got around to listening to an unmixed copy of the song the station got and his "jaw dropped, and the song was added in a hot second" - and the rest became history!
An epic hit, "Summer Girls" was subsequently released on June 29, 1999, as the second single from the band's eponymous debut studio album which hit shelves that August 24: the song debuted on the Billboard Top 30 and peaked at #3 by August.
At the time, the Abercrombie & Fitch brand - a phenomenon which had been repositioned by Mike Jeffries beginning in 1992 as an unprecedented fashion retailer focused on a one-of-a-kind, magnetic youthful, popular, cool, provocative and attractive All-American ideal; catering to early-Milliennials then in their late-teens and early-20 somethings at the turn of the millennium - had been experiencing continuous, ever-climbing growth and profits and explosively permeating the national American youth psyche as the ultimately coolest brand. What became of the catchiest parts of the breakthrough summer anthem: "I like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch" and "I said my name was Rich / You look like a girl from Abercrombie & Fitch." Mike would himself mention it in his Chairman's Letter for the 1999 fiscal year earnings report released in early-2000: "We opened 54 new stores and a band wrote a hit song about girls who wear A&F."
Rich himself (born August 30, 1974) was 24 at the time the song was released and turned 25 after the debut of his band's studio album. (He would also date Jennifer Love Hewitt that 1999, and he wrote a song for her titled "Girl on TV" (as he used to work at a Blockbuster and watch her in films with a crush on her), though he shared in 2009 on The Howard Stern Show that she ended it after he inquired to her over the rumors at the time that she was cheating on him). LFO, which stands for Lyte Flunky Ones, would inevitably breakup in 2002. In 2005, only going after the insistence from his parents that he was not looking healthy, Rich paid a visit to a doctor only to then, after some tests, be told that he had leukemia: "He's always been back [home to us] every chance he gets. He's very spiritual, very caring. For him to get hit was especially unbelievable," mentioned his mother to the Boston Globe.
"Cronin now has shadows under his eyes, and at 6 feet 3 inches and 185 pounds, he looks a little thin. Yet he exudes energy. As he talks about his experience, his eyes open wide and his leg shifts restlessly in his chair. He tells of all the phone calls he received, from people he hadn't spoken to in as many as 12 years. Fellow boy band stars Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block and Jeff Timmons from 98 Degrees visited him in the hospital. Johnny Damon called, even though Cronin had never spoken to the Red Sox center fielder before. And even though Cronin only knew the daughter of Hulk Hogan, the wrestler called him repeatedly in the hospital to say, 'Hey, Richamania, enough of lying in bed!' As terrible as lying in a hospital bed is, Cronin says, it has taught him lessons that hundreds of arena performances could not. The outpouring of concern from friends as well as doctors, nurses, and fellow cancer patients helped him put into perspective the aggressive side of people he has encountered in the music world. [...] 'In the music business, everyone's all me, me, me,' he says. 'But at the hospital, I've been on the brink of breaking down, and Dr. Joyce would sit down with me for, like, two hours to make me calm. To me, that was unbelievable.'" - Rich Cronin's Comeback, The Boston Globe, 2005 (read)
His leukemia went into remission by January 2006, though he would continue to battle against it and the repercussions. Nevertheless, he realized his want to become a part of spreading greater awareness and education on the matter and on the importance of bone marrow donation for those in need. Strong and driven, he also continued to work on his career and musical work all the while. On September 8, 2010, Rich "suffered a stroke due to complications from medicine he was taking to offset GVH (Graph verse Host Disease), which he had been struggling with since the transplant" (see obituary), and he passed away at the age of 36.
Rich gave us a fun, iconic, beautiful classic which has been a staple track for hardcore Abercrombie & Fitch fans since. Really, among the home American base and turn-of-the-century and 2000s A&F fans. But it's transcendent across time and should be, too, across space as it should be shared with new fellow A&F guys and girls internationally who should know of it, hear it, and embrace it for it being an iconic part of our community's culture.
Today, "Summer Girls" continues to remain among Billboard's top thirty summer tracks of all-time; it remains in the teens - the list is annually updated - and is at #17 since the last May 22, 2014 update: "The theme song to many a youthful turn of the millennium summer night, "Summer Girls" is the solid hit from the dreamboats of LFO. This 1999 lyrical masterpiece ("When I met you I said my name was Rich / You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch," anyone?) spent 17 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 3."
Every time you play "Summer Girls", it's a raise-your-glass to amazing Rich - whose positive, lighthearted, fun, bright and driven spirit lives on - and to good times #AFstyle! Our girls (and boys) that wear Abercrombie & Fitch like, love, you, too, and FOREVER! Rich, thank you, brother...