Boy bands moved aside for the girls

Mar 2020 Boy bands moved aside for the girls

By Derek Mead

AMONG OUR SOUVENIRS: Memories keeping alive
the music and songs of the early girl groups’

It was inevitable that after extensive American male and female vocal and musical popularity from the 1950s, highlighted in two recent articles in The Beat, numerous girl groups formed at about the same time – some with high musical standards and enduring chart success, while others were of less quality soon to disappear.
Some made complicated changes to group members but many such groups became part of the musical culture of that time and eventually moved on to the heritage still enjoyed by them. It is also quite amazing that the demand for this type of music has endured for so long by so many, and it must mainly be due to the standard of music and song, plus the sheer happiness offered and the delight of so many followers who may prefer to listen to these groups rather than today’s mundane offerings.
Some of the more interesting and perhaps controversial groups who entertained the public back in those uncertain after war years could include:

The Supremes
Founded in Detroit Michigan in 1959; an American singing group during the 1960s, the premier group of Motown records. They were America’s most successful vocal group with 12 No.1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, mostly written by Motown’s main production team Holland-Dozier-Holland. In 1964, ‘Baby Love’ topped five US charts and in the UK British Hit Singles achieved No.1.
In the mid-1960s, the group enjoyed the same worldwide popularity as The Beatles with Diana Ross as lead singer. In 1967, the group was renamed Diana Ross and The Supremes but, in 1970, Diana left and the name reverted to the original with Jean Terrell as lead.
Mary Wilson, bom March 6, 1944, performed with the group throughout its 18 years from 1959 to 1977 and is still singing. The group disbanded in 1977 with a farewell concert in the Drury Lane Theatre, London. Their genres had been R&B/doo-wop/soul/pop and disco and their label as The Supremes was Motown.
The group was inducted by Little Richard into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

The Shirelles
were formed in 1957 in New Jersey as ‘Poquellos’ with the change to The Shirelles at the end of the year. The new name was based on one of the four founding members, Shirley Owens. Their most active years were 1957 to 1982.
Their first song was ‘I Met Him On A Sunday’, No. 49 in the US. Their most popular songs were ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ a US No.1 and No.4 in British Hit Singles followed by ‘Soldier Boy’ again a US No. I and No.23 in British Hit Singles: also ‘Foolish Little Girl’ a US No.4 and No.38 in British Hit Singles.
The genre was R&B/doo-wop/pop/soul and rock. Their sound was described as female tight harmony becoming gender neutral. Their numerous labels were Tiara/Decca/Scepter/Bell/RCA/UK/Top Rank/Stateside and Pye. Their honours included induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and in 2008, an avenue in their home town of Passaic was re-named Shirelles Boulevard. They continue to tour in various groups using different names.

Martha and the Vandellas were formed in 1957 and became famous in the 60s singing Motown. In 1962, Martha Reeves, who also recorded as soloist Martha Lavaille, joined the all-American group to be featured as lead singer, with the group to be called Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, from 1967 to 1972 and from 2000 onwards.
Their most active years were from 1957 to 1972. In the group’s chart popularity, from 1963 to 1972, they charted more than 26 hits and recorded in the Genre of doo-wop/R&B/pop/blues/rock & roll/plus soul, and they sang the Motown sound. Ten of their songs reached the Top 10 of the Billboard R&B singles chart, including two No.1s and six in the Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.
In the British Hit Singles, the group had 10 hits in the Top 75 from 1964 to 1988, including two re-issues for ‘Nowhere To Run” and one re-issue for ‘Dancing In The Street’ which reached No. 4 in 1969 and was the group’s most successful release – their signature song – and one of the most popular songs in Rock & Roll known as the Motown Anthem.
The group was inducted jnto the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. Numerous other awards were granted and the group was ranked 96 on the Rolling Stone list of 100 Greatest Artists Of All Time.
The only label used by the the group was Gordy. The group occasionally re-unite for certain concerts, although they no longer sing together full time. They are however now part of American Culture.

The Crystals
were one of the defining acts of the ‘girl group’ era based in New York City in the first half of the 1960s.
‘Crystal’ was a name used after a girl group street urchin character. Their limited active years were 1960 to 1967, when the group disbanded before re-uniting in 1971 and then continuing to perform. Their genres were Rock & Roll/pop/pop rock and R&B. The group enjoyed three very successful initial chart hits with successive singers in the early years – ‘He’s A Rebel’ a US No.1 and No.19 in British Hit Singles: then two much-remembered songs to this day ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’, No.3 in US and No.5 and No.15 in British Hit Singles after a re-issue in 1974, plus ‘Then He Kissed Me’, No. 6 in US and No.2 in British Hit Singles.
All were produced by Phil Spector and signed to his Philles Records label when The Ronettes were fast becoming his main girl act.
Following live shows in the UK in 1964, there were other single releases up to disbanding in 1967, at the same time as the group departed for the United Artists Record label.

The Ronettes
an American girl group from Spanish Harlem New York were one of the most popular and undoubtedly controversial 1960s groups. The trio, formed and led by Veronica Bennett, later known as Ronnie Spector, following Veronica’s marriage to Phil Spector, had sung together for some time before moving to Phil Spector’s Philles Records in 1963 and assuming the name ‘The Ronettes’.
The group released five popular and successful songs in the l960s β€” ‘Be My Baby’, No.2 in US and No.4 in British Hit Singles β€” ‘Baby, I Love You’, No.24 in US and No.11 in British Hit Singles – ‘(The Best Part Of) Breakin’ Up’, No.39 in US and No.43 in the British Hit Singles – ‘Do I Love You?’ No.34 in US and No.35 in British Hit Singles – ‘Walkin’ In The Rain’ , No.23 in US. In the first two releases, Cher guested as backing singer – her first recording – following which she became a permanent vocalist. In 1964, the group toured the UK and grew in stature and popularity from the experience. Then, in 1966, they joined with the Beatles on a 14-city American tour – the only girl group to do so. Sadly, Ronnie Spector was denied the opportunity to participate due to opposition from her husband Phil.
The group’s active years were from 1957 to 1968 – their labels were Colpix and Philles – their genres were R&B/pop/ soul/doo-wop.
In 1999 the group was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for ‘Be My Baby’, then, in 2004, it was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and in 2010 into the People’s Hall of Rock & Roll Legends.

Ronnie and Phil Spector divorced in 1974 with Ronnie beginning her solo career. Much later, in 2009, Phil was sentenced to 19 years-to-life in a state prison.
Although many Phil Spector songs were released after The Ronettes disbanded in 1967, there remain numerous rumours of unreleased Phil Spector songs perhaps waiting his return.

The Dixie Cups
was an American 1960s pop music girl group, originally from New Orleans, which topped the 1964 chart in America with their debut single ‘Chapel of Love’, written by Phil Spector and others, and originally composed for The Ronettes. It reached No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No.22 in British Hit Singles. It sold more than one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. It was also No.279 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Their next success, also in 1964, was ‘People Say’ which reached No.12 on Billboard Hot 100. This was followed by ‘IKO IKO’ in 1965, a New Orleans-style song, No.20 on Billboard Hot 100 and No.23 in British Hit Singles.
The group also had numerous other successes. Their genres were R&B/pop. Their labels were Red Bird/ABC. Their active years were from 1964 onwards.
In 1965, Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans and the three 1964 founding members retreated to Florida and Texas – they were Rosa Hawkins Barbara Hawkins and Joan Johnson, now replaced by Athelgra Neville. The group is still performing to this day and making personal appearances.
This low key group must accept much praise for achieving three successful singles in such a short period of time, particularly for ‘Chapel of Love’ which was truly outstanding.

The Chordettes
were an American female quartet often singing a cappella and traditional pop, also folk music and close harmony. They were one of the earlier groups, founded in Wisconsin in 1946. Their active singing years were from 1946 to 1963. Their genres were barbershop/tradpop/doo-wop/pop rock and their labels were Columbia/Cadence/London. Their biggest hit was ‘Mr Sandman’ (1954) No.1 in US and No.11 in British Hit Singles followed by ‘Lollipop’ (1958) No.2 in US and No.6 in British Hit Singles – ‘Zorro’ (1959) number 17 in US – ‘Never On a Sunday’ (1961) Nio.13 in US – ‘Eddie My Love’ No. 14 in US – ‘Born to be With You’ (1956) No.5 in US and No.8 in British Hit Singles – ‘Lay Down your Arms’ (1956) – ‘Just Between You and Me’ (1957) No.8 in US. Their cover ‘The White Rose of Athens’ (1967) was No.15 in Australia and ‘In the Deep Blue Sea’ was a one week entry in Australia at No.128. There is a flavour of Greece and Nana Mouskouri in two of these songs, many of which featured in movies and television and many more were simply popular songs of the time. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 200l, and there is a record of nine past singing members. All of this is an example of an early group, one of the most popular close harmony groups of all time, formed just one year after the Second World War ended, and during some 23 years, putting together a variety of songs of many persuasions which have proved very popular and have withstood the test of time.

The seven summarised groups are probably the most popular and here are the remaining groups in the top 15 with an example of their songs: The Marvelettes – Please Mr Postman.

The Shangri-Las – Leader of the Pack.
The Orlons – Don’t Hang Up.
The Chiffons – Sweet Talkin’ Guy.
The Angels – I Adore Him.
The Chantels – Maybe.