Category: girl group

On this day in music history: August 31, 1963 – “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on September 28, 1963. Written and produced by Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer, it is the biggest hit for the girl group from South Orange, NJ. Formed in 1961 by sisters Barbara “Bibs” Allbut and Phyllis “Jiggs” Allbut as The Starlets, originally a quartet with Bernadette Carroll and Lynda Malzone. They record a handful of singles and also work as background singers. After Malzone leaves, she is replaced by Linda Jansen (aka Jankowski). They have another set back when manager Tom DeCillis decides to take on Carroll as his sole client, and drops the rest of the group. At this point, the Allbut sisters put their music career aspirations on hold to attend college after they’re turned down for a record deal by producer Gerry Granahan of Caprice Records. He has a change of heart and has the girls come back and record a song performed in their audition titled “Til”. Before it’s released, the group change their name to The Angels. Released in August of 1961, it peaks at #14 on the Hot 100 in January of 1962. They release four more singles, before Jansen leaves for a solo career. She is replaced by fellow New Jersey native Peggy Santiglia, formerly a member of The Delicates and a commercial jingle singer. Santiglia proves to be a perfect fit, and the group leave Caprice and are signed to Mercury subsidiary Smash Records. They are paired with songwriter and producers Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer (aka “The Strangeloves”). Feldman comes up with the initial idea for “My Boyfriend’s Back” after overhearing a high school girl rebuffing the advances of a male classmate. Initially intended for The Shirelles, they have The Angels record it as a demo. It is recorded at Associated Studios in New York City, and features Herbie Lovell (drums), Billy Butler, Bobby Comstock, Al Gorgoni (guitars), and Bob Bushnell (electric and acoustic bass). After hearing the finished recording, Smash discourages them from giving it away, and releases it on The Angels instead. Issued in July of 1963, “My Boyfriend’s Back” is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #75 on August 3, 1963, it pole vaults to the top of the chart four weeks later. A male answer record titled “Your Boyfriend’s Back” (#98 Pop) by guitarist Bobby Comstock is released and charts briefly. Regarded as one of the classic girl group songs, it is also covered by The Chiffons, Martha & The Vandellas, Melissa Manchester, and Sarah Brightman. Originally released in mono only and edited for single release, the complete unedited take of The Angels original version is remixed into true stereo. “My Boyfriend’s Back” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 13, 1963 – “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes is released. Written by Phil Spector, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, it is the sixth single release and biggest hit for the pop vocal group from New York City. Raised in Spanish Harlem, sisters Veronica “Ronnie”, Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley begin singing together, as kids. Inspired by Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, the girls form their own group in 1957, also adding their cousins Ira, Elaine and Diane. The group perform at the Apollo Theater’s legendary amateur night singing “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”. When Ira is unable to sing, Ronnie steps in immediately and takes the lead, earning a favorable response from the notoriously tough audience. Ira, Elaine and Diane drop out of the group, leaving the other three to continue on their own. Calling themselves Ronnie & The Relatives, they begin performing at local parties and events around the city. In 1961, they meet Stu Phillips of Colpix Records, who sign them to a recording contract. They release several singles that fail to make any impact, but wind up becoming regular performers at the Peppermint Lounge. The club manager mistakes them for dancers, and puts them on stage behind Joey Dee & The Star Liters. Now re-named The Ronettes, they release a few more singles with Colpix before breaking ties with them. In early 1963, Estelle contacts producer and songwriter Phil Spector, and asks if the group can audition for him. Impressed, Spector signs them to his label Philles Records in March of 1963. Cutting several sides, they’re either shelved or released under their label mates The Crystals name. In July, they record a new song penned by Spector and the husband and wife songwriting team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. The song titled “Be My Baby” is recorded at Gold Star Studios on July 5, 1963, with Spector using members of the famed studio collective The Wrecking Crew. In spite of being credited to The Ronettes, Ronnie is the only member of the group on the single, with Estelle and Nedra’s places being taken by a group of backing vocalists including Darlene Love & The Blossoms, Ellie Greenwich, Nino Tempo, Sonny Bono and a then seventeen year old Cher. Released just over a month later, the record quickly becomes a smash, peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on October 12, 1963, and #4 on the R&B chart on October 26, 1963. Widely regarded as one of the greatest pop records ever made, “Be My Baby” becomes one the songs that defines Phil Spector’s signature “Wall Of Sound” production. The song is covered countless times over the years, including versions by Andy Kim, Shaun Cassidy, and Tommy Roe. In 1986, the chorus of “Be My Baby” is interpolated into Eddie Money’s hit “Take Me Home Tonight”, with Ronnie Spector herself singing the hook. “Be My Baby” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999, and added to the National Recording Registry by the Library Of Congress in 2006.

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On this day in music history: March 30, 1963 – “He’s So Fine” by The Chiffons hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 4 weeks on April 6, 1963. Written by Ronnie Mack, it is the debut single and biggest for the female R&B/Pop vocal quartet from New York City. Originally consisting of group members Judy Craig, Patricia Bennett and Barbara Lee, The Chiffons are formed in 1960 while all are students at James Monroe High School in the Bronx. In 1962, the girls meet songwriter Ronnie Mack who becomes their manager, who suggests that they add fourteen year old Sylvia Peterson to the group, making them a quartet. Mack writes “He’s So Fine” for the group as their first single. While Mack tries to secure a record deal for The Chiffons, the song attracts the attention of music publisher Bright Tunes run by Phil Margo, Mitch Margo, Jay Siegal and Hank Medress, better known as The Tokens (“The Lion Sleeps Tonight”). They love the song and offer to produce them, as they have a production deal for Capitol Records. Having already exhausted their production budget, The Tokens take The Chiffons into a small demo studio to record “He’s So Fine”. After the track is completed, they play it for Capitol Records president Voyle Gilmore, who rejects the song as being “too simple and too trite”. The group shop the song around, and are rejected by more than a dozen record labels before it is picked up by Laurie Records in New York. Released in December of 1962, the song initially gets off to a slow start, but eventually catches on. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on February 23, 1963, it leaps to the top of the chart five weeks later. Sadly, songwriter Ronnie Mack will not have long to enjoy his newly found success. Shortly after the song reaches number one, he is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease and succumbs to the illness just a few months later at the age of only twenty three. The Chiffons score further hits with the Carole King and Gerry Goffin penned “One Fine Day” (#5 Pop, #6 R&B) and “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” (#10 Pop). “He’s So Fine” later becomes the subject of a lawsuit between Bright Tunes Publishing and former Beatle George Harrison when the publisher accuses him of plagiarizing “He’s So Fine” for his number one single “My Sweet Lord”. The lawsuit drags on for years before it is finally settled. George Harrison’s estate purchases the publishing rights to “He’s So Fine” and holds the copyright to this day. Ironically, The Chiffons cover “My Sweet Lord” in the mid 70’s, though it is not a hit.

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On this day in music history: November 28, 1964 – “Leader Of The Pack” by The Shangri-Las hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written and produced by George “Shadow” Morton, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, it is the biggest hit for the Queens, NY quartet. The group consists of two sets of sisters, Betty and Mary Weiss and twins Marge and Mary Ann Ganser. They are signed to Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller’s Red Bird label after first being discovered by Artie Ripp. The track is recorded at Ultrasonic Sound Studios in New York City in July 1964. Only fifteen years old at the time of the session, lead singer Mary Weiss, inhibited by the studio needs to be coached by producer Jeff Barry through the recording with him standing across from her and mouthing the words. The released take captures the young singer crying while delivering her vocal. Entering the Hot 100 at #86 on October 10, 1964, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. Acknowledged as a classic of the 60’s girl group genre, “Leader Of The Pack” is covered numerous times over the years including versions by Bette Midler and Twisted Sister. It is also parodied in songs such as The Detergents’ (featuring future Archies lead singer Ron Dante) “Leader Of The Laundromat” and Jimmy Cross’ “I Want My Baby Back”, both released in 1965. The Shangri-La’s original version is featured in the film “Goodfellas” in 1990.

On this day in music history: November 3, 1962 – “He’s A Rebel” by The Crystals hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Gene Pitney, it is biggest hit for the New York based girl group. Singer and songwriter Gene Pitney (“Town Without Pity”, “Only Love Can Break A Heart”) writes the song for The Shirelles, who end up turning it down. Producer Phil Spector hears the song and immediately wants to record with his group The Crystals. Spector soon discovers that Vikki Carr has already recorded it (with producer Snuff Garrett), and is about to be released as a single. The Crystals are on tour at the time on the east coast and are not available. Not wasting any time, Spector has Darlene Love & The Blossoms record it instead, but releases it under The Crystals name. Cut at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, CA with members of The Wrecking Crew, the track is recorded in short order. The signature end refrain of “Rebel” where Love repeats the phrase “no, no, no…”, is actually result of an error. Originally, Phil Spector wants her to multi-track her vocals in that section. But because of the limited number of tracks available and Love’s inability to remember where she sang the line in the previous pass, the vocals appear randomly at the end. Spector decides to leave them as they are, and the single is rush released in late August of 1962. Entering the Hot 100 at #98 on September 8, 1962, The Crystals version shoots to the top of the chart the eight weeks later, while Vikki Carr’s bubbles under at #115. Carr does not debut on the Hot 100 until September of 1967 with her breakthrough hit “It Must Be Him” (#3 Pop). The Crystals (Darlene Love & The Blossoms) recording of “He’s A Rebel” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2004.

On this day in music history: August 31, 1963 – “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on September 28, 1963. Written and produced by Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer, it is the biggest hit for the girl group from South Orange, NJ. Formed in 1961 by sisters Barbara “Bibs” Allbut and Phyllis “Jiggs” Allbut as The Starlets, originally a quartet with Bernadette Carroll and Lynda Malzone. They record a handful of singles and also work as background singers. After Malzone leaves, she is replaced by Linda Jansen (aka Jankowski). They have another set back when manager Tom DeCillis decides to take on Carroll as his sole client, and drops the rest of the group. At this point, the Allbut sisters put their music career aspirations on hold to attend college after they’re turned down for a record deal by producer Gerry Granahan of Caprice Records. He has a change of heart and has the girls come back and record a song performed in their audition titled “Til”. Before it’s released, the group change their name to The Angels. Released in August of 1961, their cover of the pop standard is a hit, peaking at #14 on the Hot 100 in January of 1962. They release four more singles, before Jansen leaves for a solo career. She is replaced by fellow New Jersey native Peggy Santiglia, formerly a member of The Delicates and a commercial jingle singer. Santiglia proves to be a perfect fit, and the group leave Caprice and are signed to Mercury subsidiary Smash Records. They are paired with songwriter and producers Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer (aka “The Strangeloves”). Feldman comes up with the initial idea for “My Boyfriend’s Back” after overhearing a high school girl rebuffing the advances of a male classmate. Initially intended for The Shirelles, they have The Angels record it as a demo. It is recorded at Associated Studios in New York City, and features Herbie Lovell (drums), Billy Butler, Bobby Comstock, Al Gorgoni (guitars), and Bob Bushnell (electric and acoustic bass). After hearing the finished recording, Smash discourages them from giving it away, and releases it on The Angels instead. Issued in July of 1963, “My Boyfriend’s Back” is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #75 on August 3, 1963, it pole vaults to the top of the chart four weeks later. A male answer record titled “Your Boyfriend’s Back” (#98 Pop) by guitarist Bobby Comstock is released and charts briefly. Regarded as one of the classic girl group songs, it is also covered by The Chiffons, Martha & The Vandellas, Melissa Manchester, and Sarah Brightman. Originally released in mono only and edited for single release, the complete unedited take of The Angels original version is remixed into true stereo, from the four track multi-track master. “My Boyfriend’s Back” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 30, 1963 – “He’s So Fine” by The Chiffons hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 4 weeks on April 6, 1963. Written by Ronnie Mack, it is the debut single and biggest for the female R&B/Pop vocal quartet from New York City. Originally consisting of group members Judy Craig, Patricia Bennett and Barbara Lee, The Chiffons are formed in 1960 while all are students at James Monroe High School in the Bronx. In 1962, the girls meet songwriter Ronnie Mack who becomes their manager, who suggests that they add fourteen year old Sylvia Peterson to the group, making them a quartet. Mack writes “He’s So Fine” for the group as their first single. While Mack tries to secure a record deal for The Chiffons, the song attracts the attention of music publisher Bright Tunes run by Phil Margo, Mitch Margo, Jay Siegal and Hank Medress, better known as The Tokens (“The Lion Sleeps Tonight”). They love the song and offer to produce them, as they have a production deal for Capitol Records. Having already exhausted their production budget, The Tokens take The Chiffons into a small demo studio to record “He’s So Fine”. After the track is completed, they play it for Capitol Records president Voyle Gilmore, who rejects the song as being “too simple and too trite”. The group shop the song around, and are rejected by more than a dozen record labels before it is picked up by Laurie Records in New York. Released in December of 1962, the song initially gets off to a slow start, but eventually catches on. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on February 23, 1963, it leaps to the top of the chart five weeks later. Sadly, songwriter Ronnie Mack will not have long to enjoy his newly found success. Shortly after the song reaches number one, he is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease and succumbs to the illness just a few months later at the age of only twenty three. The Chiffons score further hits with the Carole King and Gerry Goffin penned “One Fine Day” (#5 Pop, #6 R&B) and “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” (#10 Pop). “He’s So Fine” later becomes the subject of a lawsuit between Bright Tunes Publishing and former Beatle George Harrison when the publisher accuses him of plagiarizing “He’s So Fine” for his number one single “My Sweet Lord”. The lawsuit drags on for years before it is finally settled. George Harrison’s estate purchases the publishing rights to “He’s So Fine” and holds the copyright to this day. Ironically, The Chiffons cover “My Sweet Lord” in the mid 70’s, though it is not a hit.

The Ronettes (1964)

On this day in music history: November 28, 1964 – “Leader Of The Pack” by The Shangri-Las hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written and produced by George “Shadow” Morton, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, it is the biggest hit for the Queens, NY quartet. The group consists of two sets of sisters, Betty and Mary Weiss and twins Marge and Mary Ann Ganser. They are signed to Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller’s Red Bird label after first being discovered by Artie Ripp. The track is recorded at Ultrasonic Sound Studios in New York City in July 1964. Only fifteen years old at the time of the session, lead singer Mary Weiss, inhibited by the studio needs to be coached by producer Jeff Barry through the recording with him standing across from her and mouthing the words. The released take captures the young singer crying while delivering her vocal. Entering the Hot 100 at #86 on October 10, 1964, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. Acknowledged as a classic of the 60’s girl group genre, “Leader Of The Pack” is covered numerous times over the years including versions by Bette Midler and Twisted Sister. It is also parodied in songs such as The Detergents’ (featuring future Archies lead singer Ron Dante) “Leader Of The Laundromat” and Jimmy Cross’ “I Want My Baby Back”, both released in 1965. The Shangri-La’s original version is featured in the film “Goodfellas” in 1990.

June’s Diary performing “I Know Why You Calling” at the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, VA tonight.