There are three sections in this post: 110 Female artists, 25 Male artists and 35 groups or bands. For the purposes of ease of listening, here are six associated playlists:
Len Barry thru Jim Croce Playlist:
Danny & the Juniors thru Connie Francis Playlist:
Bobby Freeman thru Eartha Kitt Playlist:
Brenda Lee thru Little Richard Playlist:
Eileen Rodgers thru The Diamonds Playlist:
The Fifth Dimension thru Carla Thomas Playlist:
110 Female Artists:
Adams, Faye; Clark, Petula; Funicello, Annette; Baker, LaVern; Bass, Fontana; Black, Cilla; Brewer, Teresa; Brown, Maxine; Brown, Ruth; Bryant, Anita; Carr, Kathy; Carr, Vicki, Carson, Mindy; Cass, Mama (Elliot); Christy, June; Channing, Carole; Cher (Cherilyn Sarkisian); Cline, Patsy; Clooney, Rosemary; Collins, Judy; Corey, Jill; Davis, Skeeter; Day, Doris; DeShannon, Jackie; Duke, Patty; Ellis, Shirley; Everett, Betty; Fabares, Shelly; Faithful, Marianne; Fisher, Miss Toni; Ford, Mary; Francis, Connie; Fitzgerald, Ella; George, Barbara; Gentry, Bobbie; Gisele, Mackenzie; Gore, Leslie; Gorme, Eydie; Guitar, Bonnie; Holloway, Brenda; Howard, Jan; Jackson, Wanda; James, Etta; James, Joni; Jo, Damita; Johnson, Betty; Kallen, Kitty; King, Carole; Kitt, Eartha; Lee, Brenda; Lee, Peggy; Lester, Ketty; Lewis, Barbara; Linden, Kathy; Little Eva (Boyd); Loeb, Lisa; Lulu (Kennedy-Cairns); Lynn, Barbara; Lynn, Loretta; Lynne, Gloria; Madigan, Betty; March, Little Peggy; Mason, Barbara; McGuire Sisters; Midler, Bette; Miller, Jody; Monroe, Marilyn; Morgan, Jane; Morgan, Jaye P.; Nyro, Laura; Page, Patti; Phillips, Esther; Piaf, Edith; Posey, Sandy; Powell, Jane; Renay, Diane; Reynolds, Debbie; Rodgers, Eileen; Scott, Linda; Sharp, Dee Dee; Shepard, Jean; Shore, Dinah; Simone, Nina; Sinatra, Nancy; Smith, Connie; Smith, Keely; Sommers, Joanie; Springfield, Dusty; Stafford, Jo; Starr, Kay; Stevens, Connie; Stevens, Dodie; Storm, Gayle; Streisand, Barbara; Swann, Betty; Thomas, Carla; Thomas, Irma; Thompson, Sue; Troy, Doris; Yuro, Timi; Valli, June; Vaughn, Sarah; Warwick, Dionne; Washington, Baby Justine; Washington, Dinah; Wells, Kitty; West, Dottie; Wilson, Nancy and Wynette, Tammy.
Here are the lady’s mini-biographies and links to their music:
Lisa Loeb (born in Dallas on March 11, 1968) is an American singer-songwriter and actress. She started her career with the number 1 hit song “Stay (I Missed You)” (https://youtu.be/i9HGwRbMiVY) from the film Reality Bites, the first number 1 single for an artist without a recording contract. Her studio albums include two back-to-back albums that were certified gold; these were Tails and Firecracker. Loeb’s film, television and voice-over work includes guest starring roles in the season finale of Gossip Girl, and two episodes, including the series finale, of Netflix’s Fuller House. She also starred in two other television series, Dweezil & Lisa, a weekly culinary adventure for the Food Network that featured her alongside Dweezil Zappa, and Number 1 Single on E! Entertainment Television. She has also acted in such films as House on Haunted Hill, Fright Night, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, and Helicopter Mom. Loeb has released children’s CDs and books such as Catch the Moon, Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs, and Songs for Movin’ and Shakin’, Nursery Rhyme Parade! is her album and long-form video of over 30 children’s favorites. She co-wrote the lyrics and co-composed the music to Camp Kappawanna, a family musical that was premiered in New York in March 2015 by the Atlantic Theater Company. In 2016, she released her children’s CD Feel What U Feel, which won Best Children’s Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. Loeb’s latest album, A Simple Trick to Happiness, was released in February 2020.
Édith Piaf, born Édith Giovanna Gassion,19 December 1915 – 10 October 1963) was a French singer-songwriter, cabaret performer and film actress noted as France’s national chanteuse and one of the country’s most widely known international stars. Piaf’s music was often autobiographical, and she specialized in chanson and torch ballads about love, loss and sorrow. Her most widely known songs include “La Vie en rose” (1946), “Non, je ne regrette rien” (https://youtu.be/Q3Kvu6Kgp88) (RQ 9) (1960), “Hymne à l’amour” (1949), “Milord” (1959), “La Foule” (1957), “L’Accordéoniste” (1940), and “Padam, padam…” (1951). Since her death in 1963, several biographies and films have studied her life, including 2007’s Academy Award-winning La Vie en rose. Piaf has become one of the most celebrated performers of the 20th century.
Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien (16 April 1939 – 2 March 1999), professionally known as Dusty Springfield, was an English pop singer and record producer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s. With her distinctive mezzo-sopranosound, she was an important singer of blue-eyed soul and at her peak was one of the most successful British female performers, with six top 20 singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 and sixteen on the UK Singles Chart from 1963 to 1989.
One of her best was “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” recorded in 1966 (https://youtu.be/1PUT2a5NafI) (RQ10). She is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and UK Music Hall of Fame. International polls have named Springfield among the best female rock artists of all time. Her image, supported by a peroxide blondebouffant hairstyle, evening gowns, and heavy make-up, as well as her flamboyant performances, made her an icon of the Swinging Sixties.
Note: after the 110 Female Artists, there are another 25 Male Artists and 35 Bands or Groups listed from the 1950s and 1960s…
Faye Adams was born in Newark, New Jersey. Her father was David Tuell, a gospel singer and a key figure in the Church of God in Christ. At the age of five she joined her sisters to sing spirituals, regularly performing on Newark radio shows. Under her married name, Faye Scruggs, she became a regular performer in New York nightclubs in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
While performing in Atlanta, Georgia, she was discovered by the singer Ruth Brown, who won her an audition with the bandleader Joe Morris of Atlantic Records. Having changed Scruggs’s name to Faye Adams, Morris recruited her as a singer in 1952, and signed her to Herald Records. Her first release was Morris’s song “Shake a Hand“, which topped the US Billboard R&B chart for ten weeks in 1953 and reached number 22 on the US pop chart. It sold one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. In 1954, Adams had two more R&B chart toppers with “I’ll Be True” (later covered by Bill Haley in 1954 and by a young Jackie DeShannon in 1957) and “It Hurts Me to My Heart”.
Delores LaVern Baker (Born in Chicago on November 11, 1929 – March 10, 1997) was an American R&B singer who had several hit records on the pop chart in the 1950s and early 1960s. Her most successful records were “Tweedle Dee” (1955), “Jim Dandy” (1956), and “I Cried a Tear” (1958).
Fontella Marie Bass (Born in St. Louis on July 3, 1940 – December 26, 2012) was an American R&B and soul singer and songwriter best known for her number-one R&B hit “Rescue Me” in 1965.
She was the daughter of gospel singer Martha Bass, who was a member of the Clara Ward Singers, and the older sister of R&B singer David Peaston. At an early age, Fontella showed great musical talent. At the age of five, she provided the piano accompaniment for her grandmother’s singing at funeral services, she sang in her church’s choir at six, and by the time she was nine, she had accompanied her mother on tours throughout the South and Southwest America.
Bass continued touring with her mother until age of sixteen. As a teenager, Bass was attracted by more secular music. She began singing R&B songs at local contests and fairs while attending Soldan High School from which she graduated in 1958. At 17, she started her professional career working at the Showboat Club near Chain of Rocks, Missouri.
In 1961, she auditioned on a dare for the Leon Claxtoncarnival show and was hired to play piano and sing in the chorus for two weeks, making $175 per week for the two weeks it was in town. She wanted to go on tour with Claxton but her mother refused and according to Bass “… she literally dragged me off the train”. It was during this brief stint with Claxton that she was heard by vocalist Little Milton and his bandleader Oliver Sain who hired her to back Little Milton on piano for concerts and recording.
Priscilla Maria Veronica White, better known as Cilla Black, was an English singer, television presenter, actress, and author. Championed by her friends, the Beatles, Black began her career as a singer in 1963. Her singles “Anyone Who Had a Heart” (https://youtu.be/ZUxn6JLwdDY) and “You’re My World” (https://youtu.be/o6drD2SCwHE) both reached number one in the UK in 1964. She had 11 top 10 hits on the UK Singles Chart between then and 1971, and an additional eight hits that made the top 40. In May 2010, new research published by BBC Radio 2 showed that her version of “Anyone Who Had a Heart” was the UK’s biggest-selling single by a female artist in the 1960s. “You’re My World” was also a modest hit in the U.S., peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Teresa Brewer (born as Theresa Veronica Breuer; May 7, 1931 – October 17, 2007) was an American singer whose style incorporated pop, country, jazz, R&B, musicals, and novelty songs. She was one of the most prolific and popular female singers of the 1950s, recording nearly 600 songs. Brewer was born in Toledo, Ohio, the eldest of five siblings. Her father was a glass inspector for the Libbey Owens Company (now part of Pilkington Glass), and her mother was a housewife.
Maxine Brown began singing as a child, performing with two New York City based gospel groups called the Angelairs and the Royaltones when she was a teenager. In 1960, she signed with the small Nomar record label, who released the deep soul ballad “All in My Mind” (which was written by Maxine) late in the year. The single became a hit, climbing to number two on the US R&B charts (number 19 pop), and it was quickly followed by “Funny”, which peaked at number three.
Brown was poised to become a star and she moved to the bigger ABC-Paramount in 1962, but left the label after an unsuccessful year and recording several non-chart singles for the label, and signed to the New York-based uptown soul label, Wand Records, a Scepter Records subsidiary, in 1963.
Brown recorded a string of sizable hits for Wand over the next three years. Among these were the Carole King/Gerry Goffin songs “Oh No Not My Baby”, which reached number 24 on the pop charts in 1964, and “It’s Gonna Be Alright”, which peaked at No. 26 on the R&B charts the following year. She also recorded duets with label-mate Chuck Jackson, including a reworked version of an Alvin Robinson hit, “Something You Got”, which climbed to No. 10 on the R&B chart. However, the company turned its focus to other bigger-selling acts, especially Dionne Warwick.
Ruth Alston Brown (Born in Portsmouth, VA on January 12, 1928 – November 17, 2006) was an American singer-songwriter and actress, sometimes known as the “Queen of R&B”. She was noted for bringing a pop music style to R&B music in a series of hit songs for Atlantic Records in the 1950s, such as “So Long”, “Teardrops from My Eyes” and “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean”. For these contributions, Atlantic became known as “the house that Ruth built” (alluding to the popular nickname for the old Yankee Stadium). Brown was a 1993 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Anita Jane Bryant (Born in Barnsdale, OK on March 25, 1940) is an American singer and anti-gay rights activist. She scored four Top 40 hits in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including “Paper Roses” that reached No. 5 on the charts. She was also a former Miss Oklahoma beauty pageant winner, and was a brand ambassador from 1969 to 1980 for the Florida Citrus Commission.
Angelina Helen Catherine Cordovano (Born in The Bronx on June 28, 1936 – November 22, 1988), known professionally as Cathy Carr, was an American pop singer. As a child, she appeared on The Children’s Hour, a television show locally aired in New York; sponsored by Horn & Hardart, a cafeteria chain which had locations in New York and Philadelphia. She later became a singer and dancer with the USO and joined big band orchestras such as those of Sammy Kaye and Johnny Dee.
In 1953 she signed with Coral Records, but had no hits for them, later switching to Fraternity Records, a small company based in Cincinnati, Ohio, in early 1955. It was for Fraternity that she had her only major hit, “Ivory Tower“, which was her third record for Fraternity.
Florencia Bisenta de Casillas-Martinez Cardona (Born in El Paso, TX on July 19, 1940), known by her stage name Vikki Carr, is an American vocalist. She has a singing career that spans more than four decades. Her parents are of Mexican ancestry and has performed in a variety of musical genres, including pop, jazz and country, while her greatest success has come from singing in Spanish. She established the Vikki Carr Scholarship Foundation in 1971. Vikki Carr has won three Grammys and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Latin Grammys in 2008 at the 9th Annual Latin Grammy Awards.
Mindy Carson (Born in NYC on earth July 16, 1927) is an American former traditional pop vocalist. She was heard often on radio during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1949, Carson signed with RCA Victor. Although her initial recordings for RCA Victor failed to sell well, the success of Eileen Barton’s novelty hit “If I Knew You Were Coming I’d’ve Baked a Cake” prompted the company to try a similar recording for Mindy Carson. Her recording of “Candy and Cake” was backed with “My Foolish Heart” and the record became a rare two-sided hit. However, after a number of unsuccessful follow-up recordings, RCA Victor dropped her in 1952.
Carson then moved to Columbia Records, and her duet with Guy Mitchell, “Cause I Love You That’s-A-Why”, climbed on the charts to the top 25. She also guest-starred on ABC’s 1957 series The Guy Mitchell Show. “All the Time and Everywhere”, a big hit in the United Kingdom for Dickie Valentine, went nowhere for Carson and other U.S. recording artists. A cover of The Gaylords’ big hit “Tell Me You’re Mine” charted at #22, and a few others made the top 30 in 1952, 1953 and 1954. Her song “Memories Are Made of This” with the Ray Conniff Orchestra was issued in 1955.
In August 1955 she scored a hit when her recording of “Wake the Town and Tell the People” reached #13, despite the fact that the trends in popular music were moving to Rock’n’Roll and she was not generally a rock singer. Carson had a minor hit with “The Fish”, the single prior to “Wake The Town…”, which was a mild rocker based on a proposed dance craze. The record appeared in both the Cashbox and Music Vendor retail surveys. She had only one more hit, Ivory Joe Hunter’s “Since I Met You Baby” in 1957. By 1960, her recording career was over.
Cass Elliot (born in Baltimore, MD, as Ellen Naomi Cohen; September 19, 1941 – July 29, 1974), also known as Mama Cass, was an American singer and actress who is best known for having been a member of the Mamas and the Papas. After the group broke up, she released five solo albums. In 1998, she was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her work with the Mamas and the Papas.
June Christy (born in Springfield, IL, as Shirley Luster; November 20, 1925 – June 21, 1990) was an American singer, as known for her work in the cool jazz genre and for her silky smooth vocals. Her success as a singer began with The Stan Kenton Orchestra. She pursued a solo career from 1954 and is best known for her debut album Something Cool. After her death, she was hailed as “one of the finest and most neglected singers of her time”.
Carol Elaine Channing (Born in Seattle, WA, on January 31, 1921 – January 15, 2019) was an American actress, singer, dancer, and comedian, known for starring in Broadway and film musicals. Her characters usually had a fervent expressiveness and an easily identifiable voice, whether singing or for comedic effect.
Channing began as a Broadway musical actress starring in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1949 and Hello, Dolly! in 1964, and winning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the latter. She revived both roles several times throughout her career, playing Dolly on Broadway for the final time in 1995. She was nominated for her first Tony Award in 1956 for The Vamp, followed by a nomination in 1961 for Show Girl. She received her fourth Tony Award nomination for the musical Lorelei in 1974.
Cher (born in El Entro, CA, as Cherilyn Sarkisian; May 20, 1946) is an American singer, actress and television personality. Commonly referred to by the media as the “Goddess of Pop”, she has been described as embodying female autonomy in a male-dominated industry. Cher is known for her distinctive contralto singing voice and for having worked in numerous areas of entertainment, as well as adopting a variety of styles and appearances throughout her six-decade-long career.
Cher gained popularity in 1965 as one-half of the folk rock husband-wife duo Sonny & Cher after their song “I Got You Babe” peaked at number one on the US and UK charts. By the end of 1967, they had sold 40 million records worldwide and had become, according to Time magazine, rock’s “it” couple. She began her solo career simultaneously, releasing in 1966 the transatlantic top three single “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”. After her divorce from Sonny Bono in 1975, she launched a comeback with the disco album Take Me Home (1979) and earned $300,000 a week for her 1979–1982 concert residency in Las Vegas. (Sonny was killed in a skiing accident in South Lake Tahoe on January 5, 1998).
Having sold 100 million records to date, Cher is one of the world’s best-selling music artists. Her achievements include a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, an Academy Award, three Golden Globe Awards, a Cannes Film Festival Award, the Billboard Icon Award, and awards from the Kennedy Center Honors and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. She is the only artist to date to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in six consecutive decades, from the 1960s to the 2010s. Outside of her music and acting, she is noted for her political views, social media presence, philanthropic endeavors, and social activism, including LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS prevention.
Born in Surry, England as Sally Olwen Clark; on 15 November 1932. Her stage name became Petula Clark. She is a British singer, actress, and composer. Her professional career began during World War II, as a child entertainer on BBC Radio. In 1954 she charted with “The Little Shoemaker” (https://youtu.be/O50ZHG9LWFw) (RQ 7)— the first of her big UK hits—and within two years began recording in French. International successes included:
“Prends mon coeur” https://youtu.be/vXAgSyF1mU8 (RQ8).
“Sailor” (in 1961, a UK No1) (https://youtu.be/4-r0ngPEHkg) (RQ 8).
“Romeo” (https://youtu.be/8Se98yRqgsY) (RQ 9).
“Chariot” (https://youtu.be/_1a5Y82dp28) (RQ 10+).
Hits in German, Italian, and Spanish followed. In late 1964 Clark’s global success extended to America with a four-year run of career-defining, often upbeat, singles, many written or co-written by Tony Hatch (and Hackie Trent). These songs include her signature song “Downtown” (https://youtu.be/Zx06XNfDvk0) (RQ 10). She had a string of followup hits including:
“I Know a Place” 1965. No3. (https://youtu.be/wORh2Zo9kS0). (RQ 10).
“My Love” 1966. No1. (https://youtu.be/MJE7XyKHPmM). (RQ 10).
“A Sign of the Times” 1966. No11. (https://youtu.be/SDhYJKc8oVc) (RQ 10+).
“I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love” 1966. No9. (https://youtu.be/578cg6yRLzA) (RQ 10+).
“Don’t Sleep in the Subway” 1967. No5. (https://youtu.be/0ISX9mW78Dw) (RQ 10+).
“Who Am I” 1966. No21. (https://youtu.be/Tvs-x6HKU6g) (RQ 7).
“Colour My World” 1967. No16. (https://youtu.be/k-j5hmlGY80) (RQ 9).
“This Is My Song” (by Charlie Chaplin). 1967. No5. (https://youtu.be/GgkDxMQfsSA) (RQ 9).
“The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener” 1967. No31. (https://youtu.be/iA93sPlY6-8) (RQ 9).
“Kiss Me Goodbye” 1968. No58. (https://youtu.be/DrMTJZSNu0o) (RQ10).
Patsy Cline (born in Winchester, VA, as Virginia Patterson Hensley; September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963) was an American singer. Tragically, at only 31 years old, while returning home from a benefit gig in Kansas City, she was killed in a small plane flown by her manager Randy Hughes (along with singers Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins). No-one survived the crash.
She is considered one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century and was one of the first country music artists to successfully cross over into pop music. Cline had several major hits during her eight-year recording career on the Billboard Hot Country and Western Sides chart.
Rosemary Clooney (Born in Maysville, KY, on May 23, 1928 – June 29, 2002) was an American singer and actress. She came to prominence in the early 1950s with the song “Come On-a My House”, which was followed by other pop numbers such as “Botch-a-Me”, “Mambo Italiano”, “Tenderly”, “Half as Much”, “Hey There”, and “This Ole House”. She also had success as a jazz vocalist. Clooney’s career languished in the 1960s, partly due to problems related to depression and drug addiction, but revived in 1977, when her White Christmas co-star Bing Crosby asked her to appear with him at a show marking his 50th anniversary in show business. She continued recording until her death in 2002.
Judith Marjorie Collins (born in Seattle, WA on May 1, 1939) is a Grammy Award-winning American singer and songwriter with a career spanning over 60 years. She is known for her eclectic tastes in the material she records (which has included folk music, show tunes, pop music, rock and roll and standards) and for her social activism. Collins has released 28 studio albums, 4 live albums, numerous compilation albums and 4 holiday albums.
Collins’ debut album A Maid of Constant Sorrow was released in 1961, but it was the lead single from her 1967 album Wildflowers, “Both Sides, Now” – written by Joni Mitchell – that gave Collins international prominence. The single hit the Top 10 on the Billboard Pop Singles chartand won Collins her first Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance.
She enjoyed further success with her recordings of “Someday Soon”, “Chelsea Morning”, “Amazing Grace”, and “Cook with Honey”. Collins experienced the biggest success of her career with her recording of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” from her best-selling 1975 album Judith. The single charted on the BillboardPop Singles chart in 1975 and then again in 1977, spending 27 non-consecutive weeks on the chart and earning Collins a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, as well as a Grammy Award for Sondheim for Song of the Year. In 2017, Collins’ rendition of the song “Amazing Grace” was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant”. In 2019, Judy Collins scored her first #1 album on an American Billboard Chart with Winter Stories at the age of 80 years old.
Italian-American Norma Jean Speranza (stage name: Jill Corey) was born in Avonmore, Pennsylvania, a coal mining community about forty miles east of Pittsburgh. Her father, Bernard Speranza, was a coal miner, and she was the youngest of five children. She is a 1953 graduate of Bell-Avon High School. Corey began singing as an imitator of Carmen Miranda at family gatherings and on amateur shows in grade school (never winning any prizes, usually finishing last). At the age of 13, she began to develop her own style. She won first prize at a talent contest sponsored by the Lions Club, which entitled her to sing a song on WAVL in Apollo, Pennsylvania. This got her an offer to have her own program. By the age of 14 she was working seven nights a week, earning $5 a night, with a local orchestra led by Johnny Murphy. By the age of 17 she was a local celebrity talent.
At the home of the only owner of a tape recorder in town, with trains going by in the background and no accompaniment, she made a tape recording to demonstrate her singing skills to the outside show business world. The tape came to the attention of Mitch Miller, who headed the artists & repertory section at Columbia Records. He normally received over 100 record demos a week, and this one, with a 17-year-old girl and its train background, would not have been likely to gain his attention. He telephoned her in Avonmore, and the next morning she flew to New York to be heard by Miller in a more normal studio setting. Miller had Life Magazine send over reporters and photographers, and had her audition with Arthur Godfrey and Dave Garroway. The Life photographers reenacted her signing a contract with Columbia, and all this happened in a single day, with her headed back to Avonmore that night.
Both Garroway and Godfrey called her, and it was her choice to pick one; she picked Garroway, who took the name Jill Corey out of a telephone book. Within six weeks the Life article, with a cover picture and seven pages, came out. Jill Corey became the youngest star ever at the Copacabana nightclub, and had numerous hit records.
Skeeter Davis (born Mary Frances Penick; December 30, 1931 – September 19, 2004) was an American country music singer who sang crossover pop music songs including 1962’s “The End of the World”. She started out as part of the Davis Sisters as a teenager in the late 1940s, eventually landing on RCA Victor. In the late 1950s, she became a solo star. One of the first women to achieve major stardom in the country music field as a solo vocalist, she was an acknowledged influence on Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton and was hailed as an “extraordinary country/pop singer” by The New York Times music critic Robert Palmer.
Doris Day (born in Cincinnati, OH, Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff; April 3, 1922 – May 13, 2019) was an American actress, singer, and animal welfare activist. She began her career as a big band singer in 1939, achieving commercial success in 1945 with two No. 1 recordings, “Sentimental Journey” and “My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time” with Les Brown & His Band of Renown. She left Brown to embark on a solo career and recorded more than 650 songs from 1947 to 1967.
Jackie DeShannon (born in Hazel, KY, as Sharon Lee Myers, August 21, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter with a string of hit song credits from the 1960s onwards, as both singer and composer. She was one of the first female singer-songwriters of the Rock and Roll period. She is best known as the singer of “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”, and as the composer of “When You Walk in the Room” and “Bette Davis Eyes”, which were covered by The Searchers and Kim Carnes, whose versions have been hits for both these acts.
Anna Marie “Patty” Duke (Born in NYC on December 14, 1946– March 29, 2016) was an American actress and health advocate. Over the course of her acting career, she was the recipient of an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Like many teen stars of the era, and bolstered somewhat by her appearance in the musical Billie, Duke had a successful singing career, including two Top 40 hits in 1965, “Don’t Just Stand There” (#8) and “Say Something Funny” (#22). She also performed on TV shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show.
Shirley Marie O’Garra (stage name Shirley Ellis, married name Shirley Elliston; Born in The Bronz, NY on January 19, 1929 – October 5, 2005) was an American soul music singer and songwriter of West Indian heritage. She is best known for her novelty hits “The Nitty Gritty” (1963, US no. 8), “The Name Game” (1964, US no. 3) and “The Clapping Song” (1965, US no. 8 and UK no. 6). “The Clapping Song” sold over 1 million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
Betty Everett (Born in Greenwood, MS on November 23, 1939 – August 19, 2001) was an American soul singer and pianist, best known for her biggest hit single, the million-selling “Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)”, and her duet “Let It Be Me” (https://youtu.be/YwTh4OkPTb0) (RQ 9)with Jerry Butler.
Michele Ann Marie “Shelley” Fabares (Born in Santa Monica, CA on January 19, 1944) is an American actress and singer. She is best known for her television roles as Mary Stone on the sitcom The Donna Reed Show (1958–1963) and as Christine Armstrong on the sitcom Coach (1989–97), the latter of which earned her two Primetime Emmy Awards nominations.
Fabares’ national popularity led to a recording contract and two “Top 40” hits, including “Johnny Angel,” which went to number one on the BillboardHot 100 in April 1962, and peaked at number 41 in the UK. It sold over one million copies and was certified gold. She released an album, Shelley!. “I was stunned about that, to put it mildly,” she later said. “After all, I never could sing.”
This was followed by a second album, The Things We Did Last Summer (album), which included two hit songs “Johnny Loves Me” (no. 21) and “The Things We Did Last Summer” (no. 46).
Fabares left The Donna Reed Show in 1963 (she would return periodically until its end in 1966) to pursue other acting opportunities. She released a third album, Teenage Triangle in 1963.
Marianne Evelyn Gabriel Faithfull (Born in London on 29 December 1946) is an English singer, songwriter, and actress. She achieved popularity in the 1960s with the release of her hit single “As Tears Go By” and became one of the lead female artists during the British Invasion in the United States.
Toni Fisher (born in LA as Marion Colleen Nolan; December 4, 1924 – January 11, 1999), also billed on her records as Miss Toni Fisher, was an American pop singer. She was known for her recordings of “The Big Hurt”, “West of the Wall”, “Maybe (He’ll Think Of Me)”, and “Why Can’t The Dark Leave Me Alone”. She was later known as Toni F. Monzello, following her marriage to Henry Monzello.
Mary Ford (born in El Monte, CA as Iris Colleen Summers; July 7, 1924 – September 30, 1977) was an American vocalist and guitarist, comprising half of the husband-and-wife musical team Les Paul and Mary Ford. Between 1950 and 1954, the couple had 16 top-ten hits, including “How High the Moon” and “Vaya con Dios”, which were number one hits on the Billboard charts. In 1951 alone they sold six million records. With Paul, Ford became one of the early practitioners of multi-tracking.
Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero (born in Newark, NJ on December 12, 1937), better known as Connie Francis, is an American pop singer, former actress, and top-charting female vocalist of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Although her chart success waned in the second half of the 1960s, Francis remained a top concert draw.
Success had finally seemed to come with “The Majesty of Love”, Francis was informed by MGM Records that her contract would not be renewed after her last solo single.
Francis considered a career in medicine and was about to accept a four-year scholarship offered at New York University. At what was to have been her final recording session for MGM on October 2, 1957 with Joe Lipman and his orchestra, she recorded a cover version of the 1923 song “Who’s Sorry Now?” written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. Francis has said that she recorded it at the insistence of her father, who was convinced it stood a chance of becoming a hit because it was a song adults already knew and that teenagers would dance to if it had a contemporary arrangement.
Francis, who did not like the song and had been arguing about it with her father heatedly, delayed the recording of the two other songs during the session so much, that in her opinion, no time was left on the continuously running recording tape. Her father insisted, though, and when the recording “Who’s Sorry Now?” was finished, only a few seconds were left on the tape.
The single seemed to go unnoticed like all previous releases, just as Francis had predicted, but on January 1, 1958, it debuted on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, and on February 15 of that same year, Francis performed it on the first episode of The Saturday Night Beechnut Show, also hosted by Clark. By mid-year, over a million copies had been sold, and Francis was suddenly launched into worldwide stardom. In April 1958, “Who’s Sorry Now?” reached number 1 on the UK Singles Chart and number 4 in the US. For the next four years, Francis was voted the “Best Female Vocalist” by American Bandstand viewers.
As Connie Francis explains at each of her concerts, she began searching for a new hit immediately after the success of “Who’s Sorry Now?” since MGM Records had renewed her contract. After the relative failure of the follow-up singles “I’m Sorry I Made You Cry” (which stalled at No. 36) and “Heartaches”(failing to chart at all), Francis met Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, who sang a number of ballads they had written for her. After a few hours, Francis began writing in her diary while the songwriters played the last of their ballads. Afterwards, Francis told them that she considered their ballads too intellectual and sophisticated for the young generation and requested a more lively song. Greenfield urged Sedaka to sing a song they had written that morning with the Shepherd Sisters in mind. Sedaka protested that Francis would be insulted, but Greenfield said that since she hated all the other songs they had performed, they had nothing to lose. Sedaka then played “Stupid Cupid.” When he finished, Francis announced that he had just played her new hit song. It went on to reach number 14 on the Billboard chart and was her second number 1 in the UK.
The success of “Stupid Cupid” restored momentum to Francis’ chart career, and she reached the U.S. top 40 an additional seven times during the remainder of the 1950s. She managed to churn out more hits by covering several older songs, such as “My Happiness” (number 2 on the Hot 100) and “Among My Souvenirs” (number 7), as well as performing her own original songs. In 1959, she gained two gold records for a double-sided hit: on the A-side, “Lipstick on Your Collar” (number 5), and on the B-side, “Frankie” (number 9).
Ella Jane Fitzgerald (Born in Newport News, VA on April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) was an American jazz singer, sometimes referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, and Lady Ella. She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing, timing, intonation, and a “horn-like” improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.
After a tumultuous adolescence, Fitzgerald found stability in musical success with the Chick Webb Orchestra, performing across the country but most often associated with the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. Her rendition of the nursery rhyme “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” helped boost both her and Webb to national fame. After taking over the band when Webb died, Fitzgerald left it behind in 1942 to start her solo career.
Her manager was Moe Gale, co-founder of the Savoy, until she turned the rest of her career over to Norman Granz, who founded Verve Records to produce new records by Fitzgerald. With Verve she recorded some of her more widely noted works, particularly her interpretations of the Great American Songbook.
While Fitzgerald appeared in movies and as a guest on popular television shows in the second half of the twentieth century, her musical collaborations with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and The Ink Spotswere some of her most notable acts outside of her solo career. These partnerships produced some of her best-known songs such as “Dream a Little Dream of Me”, “Cheek to Cheek”, “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”, and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”.
In 1993, after a career of nearly 60 years, she gave her last public performance. Three years later, she died at the age of 79 after years of declining health. Her accolades included fourteen Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Annette Joanne Funicello (Born in Utica, NY on October 22, 1942 – April 8, 2013) was an American actress and singer. Funicello began her professional career as a child performer at the age of twelve. She rose to prominence as one of the most popular Mouseketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club. As a teenager, she transitioned to a successful career as a singer with the pop singles “O Dio Mio”, “First Name Initial”, “Tall Paul” and “Pineapple Princess”, as well as establishing herself as a film actress, popularizing the successful “Beach Party” genre alongside co-star Frankie Avalon during the mid-1960s.
Barbara George (16 August 1942 – 10 August 2006) was an American R&B singer and songwriter. Born Barbara Ann Smith at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, she was raised in the 9th ward New Orleans, Louisiana and began singing in a church choir. She was discovered by singer Jessie Hill, who recommended her to record producer Harold Battiste. Her first record on Battiste’s AFO (All For One) record label, the certified gold single “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More)”, which her mother Eula Mae Jackson wrote, was issued in late 1961 and topped the R&B chart and made number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was later recorded by many other artistes, including Freddie King, Paul Revere & the Raiders (1966), the Merseybeats, Ike and Tina Turner, and Bonnie Raitt (1972).
Two subsequent releases, “You Talk About Love” (on AFO) and “Send For Me (If You Need Some Lovin’)” (on Sue Records), reached the Billboard Hot 100 later in 1962 but failed to match the national success of her first hit.
Later recordings such as the 1979 Senator Jones produced “Take Me Somewhere Tonight”, met with more limited success, and George largely retired from the music industry by the early 1980s, with subsequent singles never achieving the success of “I Know”. She sang on the Willy DeVille album, Victory Mixture.
Barbara gave birth to three sons, Tevin, Albert, and Gregory. Tevin trained as a professional boxer and is listed as the United States 1986 winner of the Golden Gloves award subsequently going on to perform in the Olympic Trials.
George died in August 2006 in Chauvin, Louisiana, where she had spent the last ten years of her life, six days before her 64th birthday.
Bobbie Lee Gentry (born in Woodland, MS as Roberta Lee Streeter; July 27, 1942) is a retired American singer-songwriter who was one of the first female artists to compose and produce her own material.
Gentry rose to international fame in 1967 with her Southern Gothic narrative “Ode to Billie Joe”. The track spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was third in the Billboard year-end chart of 1967, earning Gentry Grammy awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1968.
Gentry charted 11 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and four singles on the United Kingdom Top 40. Her album Fancy brought her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. After her first albums, she had a successful run of variety shows on the Las Vegas Strip. In the late 1970s Gentry lost interest in performing, and subsequently retired from the music industry. News reports conflict on the subject of where she currently lives.
Georgia Gibbs (born in Worcester, MA, as Frieda Lipschitz, August 17, 1918 – December 9, 2006) was an American popular singer and vocal entertainer rooted in jazz. Already singing publicly in her early teens, Gibbs first achieved acclaim (and notoriety) in the mid-1950s interpreting songs originating with the black rhythm and blues community and later as a featured vocalist on a long list of radio and television variety and comedy programs. Her key attribute was tremendous versatility and an uncommon stylistic range from melancholy ballad to uptempo swinging jazz and rock and roll.
Through 1949 and 1950 she appeared on TV shows Cavalcade of Stars and All Star Revue. In 1951 she signed with Mercury Records where she ultimately had success “sticking with plain Georgia Gibbs”. Possessed of a versatile voice, she cut a long list of well-received records in every category from torch songs to rock-and-roll, jazz, swing, old fashioned ballads and cha-chas. The most successful, 1952’s “Kiss Of Fire”, which she performed on The Milton Berle Show in that spring, reached #1 on the pop music charts. “Kiss of Fire” was adapted from the Argentinian tango El Choclo and the lyrics, arrangement and delivery communicate passion on a Wagnerian scale.
Sultry and throbbing, with a touch of vibrato, Gibbs’s voice is best showcased on romantic ballads and torch songs like “My Melancholy Baby”, “I’ll Be Seeing You”, “Autumn Leaves”, and “You Keep Coming Back Like a Song”. Yet she could also belt out steaming jazz numbers like “Red Hot Mama”, “A-Razz-A-Ma-Tazz”; jive with tunes like “Ol Man Mose”, “Shoo Shoo Baby”; or rock out with “I Want You to Be My Baby”. Her Swingin’ With Her Nibsalbum (1956) demonstrated her natural affinity for improvisation as well.
In 1957, Gibbs signed with RCA Victor going on to chart with over 40 songs before retirement from singing, and was briefly successful doing rock ‘n’ roll songs as well. Her Mercury record “Silent Lips” was a big hit in Sweden (September 1958-March 1959) peaking at number 5 in the best selling charts, and there were even several Swedish cover versions of that song, “Ingenting” by among others Towa Carson, Lill-Babs and Britt Rylander. Also “The Hula Hoop Song” did well in Sweden (February–March 1959) peaking at number 12. She continued to appear on many television shows including The Ed Sullivan Show, and hosted one of her own, Georgia Gibbs and her Million Record Show. She cut her final album Call Me, in 1966 and rarely performed after that.
Gisèle MacKenzie (born in Winnipeg, Canada as Gisèle Marie Louise Marguerite LaFlèche; January 10, 1927 – September 5, 2003) was a Canadian-American singer, actress, and commercial spokesperson, best known for her performances on the US television program Your Hit Parade.
The daughter of a Winnipeg doctor, McKenzie spent her childhood in Manitoba where she studied violin and attended the Sacred Heart School as a child. As a teenager she studied violin and voice at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario. She had at least two Canadian Broadcasting Corporationradio programs, Meet Gisèle, where she played hostess to Jack Benny, Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Fred Astaire, James Stewart, and others, and Gisele and Mr. Cable.
She took on the stage name MacKenzie and moved to Los Angeles, California in 1951 to replace The Andrews Sisters on CBS Radio’s daily program, Club Fifteen, starring Bob Crosby, where she alternated as regular vocalist with Jo Stafford. She became a naturalized US citizen in 1955.
MacKenzie recorded albums and singles on various record labels, most notably Capitol and RCA, Everest, Mercury, Liberty Sunset, Cricket Playhour (Pickwick). In 1953 she reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart, with her rendition of “Seven Lonely Days”.
Her biggest selling song was “Hard To Get” in 1955. She was also an accomplished classical violinist, who studied at The Royal Conservatory of Music and performed many comedic musical duets with mentor Jack Benny. In an often-played clip, she and Benny perform a violin duet of “Getting to Know You”, in which she breaks their synchronization several times to add some extra musical flourishes, to his mock irritation. Finally, he breaks in with a lengthy (and stereotypically mediocre) flourish of his own, and evokes audience laughter with mock indignation: “Fool around with Me, sister!”
Lesley Sue Goldstein (Born in NYC on May 2, 1946 – February 16, 2015), known professionally as Lesley Gore, was an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. At the age of 16 (in 1963), she recorded the pop hit “It’s My Party” (a US number one), and followed it up with other hits, including the hit “You Don’t Own Me”, and seven further Billboard top 40 hits.
Eydie Gormé (born in The Bronx, NY as Edith Gormezano; August 16, 1928 – August 10, 2013) was an American singer who had hits on the pop and Latin pop charts. She sang solo and with her husband, Steve Lawrence, on albums, television, Broadway, and in Las Vegas.
Myrtle Audrey Arinsberg (Born in Philadelphia, PA on September 20, 1924 – March 10, 2016), known professionally as Gogi Grant, was an American pop singer. She is best known for her No. 1 hit in 1956, “The Wayward Wind”.
At the age of 12, she moved to Los Angeles, where she attended Venice High School. In California, she won a teenage singing contest and appeared on television talent shows.
She worked as a car saleswoman in the early 1950s. In 1952 she began to record, using first the name “Audrey Brown” and later “Audrey Grant”. She was given the name “Gogi” by Dave Kapp, the head of Artists and Repertory at RCA Victor, who liked to patronize a restaurant called Gogi’s LaRue. (Another source says that Grant asked Kapp, “What is a Gogi?” She continued, “His answer was, ‘Darned if I know, I dreamed it last night.'”)
In 1955 Grant signed with a small record company, Era Records, and had her first top ten hit with “Suddenly There’s a Valley”. The next year, she had an even bigger hit, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Top 100 chart with “The Wayward Wind” and holding there for six weeks. The song sold over one million copies in the United States alone, and peaked at No. 9 in the UK Singles Chart. She was voted the most popular female vocalist by Billboardmagazine. This single returned to the Hot BillboardHot 100 in 1961.
Bonnie Buckingham (Born in Seattle, WA on March 25, 1923 – January 13, 2019), better known as Bonnie Guitar, was an American singer, musician, producer, and businesswoman. She was best known for her 1957 country-pop crossover hit “Dark Moon”. She became one of the first female country music singers to have hit songs cross over from the country charts to the pop charts.
Brenda Holloway (born in Los Angeles on June 21, 1946) is an American singer and songwriter, who was a recording artist for Motown Records during the 1960s. Her best-known recordings are the soul hits, “Every Little Bit Hurts”, “When I’m Gone”, and “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.” The latter, which she co-wrote, was later widely popularized when it became a Top Ten hit for Blood, Sweat & Tears. She left Motown after four years, at the age of 22, and largely retired from the music industry until the 1990s, after her recordings had become popular on the British “Northern soul” scene.
Jan Howard (Lula Grace Johnson; born in West Plains, MO on March 13, 1929 – March 28, 2020) was an American author, country music singer and songwriter. As a singer, she placed 30 singles on the Billboard country songs chart, was a Grand Ole Opry member and was nominated for several major awards. As a writer, she wrote poems and published an autobiography. Additionally, she was married to American country songwriter Harlan Howard.
Wanda Lavonne Jackson (born in Maud, Oklahoma on October 20, 1937) is a retired American singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist who had success in the mid-1950s and 1960s as one of the first popular female rockabilly singers, and a pioneering rock-and-roll artist. She is known to many as the “Queen of Rockabilly” or the “First Lady of Rockabilly”.
Jamesetta Hawkins (Born in Los Angeles on January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012), known professionally as Etta James, was an American singer who performed in various genres, including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazzand gospel. Starting her career in 1954, she gained fame with hits such as “The Wallflower”, “At Last”, “Tell Mama”, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”, and “I’d Rather Go Blind”. She faced a number of personal problems, including heroin addiction, severe physical abuse, and incarceration, before making a musical comeback in the late 1980s with the album Seven Year Itch.
Joni James (born in Chicago as Giovanna Carmella Babbo on September 22, 1930) is an American singer of traditional pop music. Babbo was born to an Italian-American family, one of six children supported by her widowed mother. As an adolescent, she studied drama and ballet, and on graduating from Bowen High School, located in the South Chicago neighborhood, went with a local dance group on a tour of Canada. She then took a job as a chorus girl in the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.
After doing a fill-in in Indiana, she decided to pursue a singing career. Some executives at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) spotted her in a television commercial, and she was signed by MGM in 1952. Her first hit, “Why Don’t You Believe Me?” sold over two million copies. She had a number of hits following that one, including “Your Cheatin’ Heart” (a cover of Hank Williams’ hit) and “Have You Heard?”. She was the first American to record at London’s Abbey Road Studios, and recorded five albums there. She was also very popular across parts of the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the Philippines where she performed at Manila’s now defunct EM Club in 1957. She also scored a big hit in Manila with Filipino composer Salvador Asuncion’s work titled “In Despair”.
James had seven Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Why Don’t You Believe Me?” (#1 in 1952) “Have You Heard?” (#4 in 1953) “Your Cheatin’ Heart” (#2 in 1953) “Almost Always” (#9 in 1953) “My Love, My Love” (#8 in 1953) “How Important Can It Be?” (#2 in 1955) and “You Are My Love” (#6 in 1955) as well as sixteen other Top 40 hits from 1952 to 1961. She has sold more than 100 million records and recorded more than 25 albums.
Damita Jo DeBlanc (Born in Austin, TX on August 5, 1930 – December 25, 1998), known professionally as Damita Jo, was an American actress, comedian, and lounge music performer.
She was the featured vocalist on albums by Steve Gibson and the Red Caps during the 1950s. She later married Gibson, but they parted ways professionally and personally in 1959. The couple had a daughter, Stephanie Latrelle Gibson born April 12, 1955. She carried on the families musical tradition as a singer and pianist where her lessons began at the age of 4. Later marrying Nathan Fred Shelton of West Virginia, and having twin boys, Bruce Thomas Shelton and Brian Stephen Shelton in Montclair, New Jersey.
Credited as Damita Jo, DeBlanc had some chart success in the early 1960s with two answer songs: 1960’s “I’ll Save the Last Dance for You” (an answer to “Save the Last Dance for Me”) and 1961’s “I’ll Be There” (an answer to “Stand by Me”). Both songs were originally sung by Ben E. King (the former with the Drifters) and made the R&B top 20, and “I’ll Be There” also reached number 12 on the pop chart. In 1962 she recorded “Dance with a Dolly (With a Hole in her Stocking)”, previously made famous by the Andrews Sisters and Bill Haley, for Mercury Records. In 1966 she had a minor hit with a cover of the Jacques Brel song “If You Go Away.” She was successful in Sweden, where “I’ll Save the Last Dance for You” peaked at number 2 (March 1961), “Do What You Want” at number 5 (July 1961) and “Dance with a Dolly (With a Hole in her Stocking” at number 3 (January 1962).
Betty Johnson (born on March 16, 1929; Guilford County, NC) is an American traditional pop and cabaret singer who reached her career peak in the 1950s.
Her professional debut was in a family group, the Johnson Family Singers, including her parents and three brothers, singing a repertoire primarily of religious material. The family won a singing contest in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was signed to a contract on a WBT (AM), a major radio station in that city. The family sang on broadcasts from 1938 to 1951, and Betty did some solo work on the station as well beginning in 1943. By 1948, she had her own 15-minute radio program.
From 1949 to 1954 she was married to Dick Redding, having one son from that marriage, Harold Richard Redding (born 1952), known as “Dicky.”
In 1951, Percy Faith, who had known her from her Columbia recordings, tried to convince Mitch Miller (A&R director at Columbia) to sign her, but Miller, who included Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney among the artists he had signed, was not interested.
Johnson released a children’s album with country singer Eddy Arnold produced by Simon & Schuster, who subsequently signed her to their own recording label, Bell Records in 1954. In the same year she signed with Csida-Grean, a management company which had handled Arnold’s career. Charles Grean of that company produced many of her subsequent recordings. In 1955, she signed with RCA Victor, which sent her to Chicago, Illinois. She married Grean in 1957, and though the marriage would only last until 1961, the professional relationship continued.
In Chicago, Johnson worked with Arnold again on his syndicated television series, Eddy Arnold Time, backed by a group who had worked with her family on the Grand Ole Opry, The Jordanaires. That group later became well known as a backing group for Elvis Presley. While in Chicago, she also did some work on Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club beginning in 1955, which led to a contract with a small record company, Bally Records. After one not-so-notable recording for Bally, she clicked with her biggest hit, “I Dreamed”, in 1956. She continued to appear on The Breakfast Club until 1957.
She then was hired by Jack Paar for his television show, Tonight. This led to a record contract with Atlantic Records in 1957, for which she had her next big hit, “Little Blue Man”, A novelty number which featured Fred Ebb as the voice of the “Little Blue Man”, repeatingly saying: “I Rov You… to Bits”. ‘Johnson continued on Tonight until 1962 when Paar was replaced by Johnny Carson, while also making appearances on a number of other television shows.
In 1964 she married Arthur Gray, an investment banker in New York City. She had two daughters, Elisabeth (born 1966) and Lydia (born 1968), from this marriage. From then until 1993 she mostly stayed out of show business, going to college (attending some classes at Dartmouth College beginning in 1977, but ultimately getting her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1981).
Kitty Kallen (born in Philedelphia, PA as Katie Kallen on May 25, 1921 – January 7, 2016) was an American popular singer whose career spanned from the 1930s to the 1960s, to include the Swing era of the Big Band years, the post-WWII pop scene and the early years of rock ‘n roll. Kallen performed with popular big band leaders of the 1940s, including Jimmy Dorsey and Harry James, before establishing a solo career.
She is widely known for her 1954 solo recording ‘”Little Things Mean a Lot,” (https://youtu.be/2C7SzKv2uLU) (RQ 9) a song that stayed at the U.S. number one spot for nine consecutive weeks, charted in the U.S. for almost seven months, hit #1 on the UK singles chart, and sold more than two million copies. Voted “most popular female singer” in 1954 in both Billboard and Variety polls, Kallen lost her voice at the London Palladium in 1955 at the top of her career and stopped singing before an audience for four years. After testing her voice under a pseudonym in small town venues, she ultimately returned and went on to achieve 13 top-ten career hits.
Carole King (born in Manhattan, NY as Carol Joan Klein on February 9, 1942) is an American singer-songwriter who has been active since 1958, initially as one of the staff songwriters at the Brill Building and later as a solo artist. She is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century in the US, having written or co-written 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100. King also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK, making her the most successful female songwriter on the UK singles charts between 1962 and 2005.
Eartha Kitt (born in St. Matthews, SC as Eartha Mae Keith on January 17, 1927 – December 25, 2008) was an American singer, actress, dancer, voice actress, comedienne, activist, author, and songwriter known for her highly distinctive singing style and her 1953 recordings of “C’est si bon” (https://youtu.be/nVvHQfMrfq4 (RQ 9) and the Christmas novelty song”Santa Baby”, both of which reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Orson Welles once called her the “most exciting woman in the world”.
Brenda Mae Tarpley (born in Atlanta, GA on December 11, 1944), known professionally as Brenda Lee, is an American singer. Performing rockabilly, pop and country music, she had 47 US chart hits during the 1960s and is ranked fourth in that decade, surpassed only by Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Ray Charles. She is known for her 1960 hit “I’m Sorry”, and 1958’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, which has become a Christmas standard.
Norma Deloris Egstrom (Born in Jamestown, ND on May 26, 1920 – January 21, 2002), known professionally as Peggy Lee, was an American jazz and popular music singer, songwriter, composer, and actress, over a career spanning seven decades. From her beginning as a vocalist on local radio to singing with Benny Goodman’s big band, Lee created a sophisticated persona, writing music for films, acting, and recording conceptual record albums combining poetry and music.
Ketty Lester (born in Hope, AR as Revoyda Frierson; August 16, 1934) is an American singer and actress known for her 1962 hit single “Love Letters”, which reached the top 5 of the charts in the U.S. and the UK. She is also known for her role as Hester-Sue Terhune on the American television series Little House on the Prairie.
Barbara Ann Lewis (born in Salem, MI on February 9, 1943) is an American singer and songwriter whose smooth style influenced rhythm and blues. She was writing and recording by her teens with record producer Ollie McLaughlin, a black DJ at Ann Arbor radio station WHRV, now WAAM. Lewis’ first single release in 1962, the uptempo “My Heart Went Do Dat Da,” did not chart nationally, but was a local hit in the Detroit, Michigan area. She wrote all of the songs on her debut LP, including the hit “Hello Stranger” which reached No. 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and featured extensive use of the Hammond organ. Lewis had moderate follow-up hits with “Straighten Up Your Heart” (#43) and her original “Puppy Love” (#38) before Bert Bernsproduced her million-seller “Baby I’m Yours” (U.S. #11), written by Van McCoy. Berns also produced the followup “Make Me Your Baby” (U.S. #11) which had originally been recorded by the Pixies Three, and Lewis’ final Top 40 hit “Make Me Belong to You” (#28 in 1966), written by Chip Taylor and Billy Vera.
Kathy Linden (born 1938) is an American pop singer from Moorestown Township, New Jersey. She grew up in Burlington, New Jersey. Linden scored two big hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 late in the 1950s. The first was “Billy”, a song originally written in 1911; it hit number seven in 1958. The second was “Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye”, a song written by a radio program director named Jack Vaughn; it rose to number eleven in 1959. Both singles were released on Felsted Records and featured Joe Leahy’s backing orchestra. Linden was known for having a breathy, childlike voice, even as a married woman in her 20s.
Linden’s talents appeared early. Her first public appearance was as a tap and ballet dancer when she was five years old. Since then, she acted in school plays and musicals, appeared in public pageants, played piano and violin in several local symphony orchestras, and with an all-girl string quintet called the Singing Strings. She attended the University of New Hampshire Summer Youth Music School in 1954, was a soprano soloist with the All State Chorus in 1955, and studied at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. At 19, she was discovered by record producer and trumpeter Joe Leahy when she auditioned for him. He was so intrigued with her sound that he recorded her and her first release was “It’s Just My Luck to Be Fifteen.” He transferred her recording contract to Felsted Records, a subsidiary of London Recordswhich had just set up shop that year. She debuted on Felsted with “Billy”.”Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye” became an international hit, not least in Sweden, where Linden’s version peaked at no 3, where it stayed for many weeks in September and October 1959.
After more recordings for Felsted and subsequently Monument and Capitol, some of which became regional hits, Linden retired from show business in 1963 to devote more time to her family and other personal interests.
In 2015, Linden gave her first and only radio interview since her retirement. She told former Casey Kasem interviewer Ronnie Allen that her life had changed enormously around 1980 when she became a Christian and started writing inspirational songs and singing and leading worship at many churches. In 1985, she was interviewed and sang on the Joy Program on TV. In 1992, she made a pilgrimage to Israel and led worship on the boat on the Sea of Galilee. She also led worship in both maximum and minimum security prisons of Southern California for three years.
Eva Narcissus Boyd (Born in Belhaven, NC, on June 29, 1943 – April 10, 2003), known by the stage name of Little Eva, was an American pop singer. Although some sources claim that her stage name was inspired by a character from the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, she stated in an interview that she was named after her aunt, which prompted her family to call her “Little Eva”. She had twelve siblings. At the age of fifteen she moved to the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York. As a teenager, she worked as a maid and earned extra money as a babysitter for songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin.
It is often claimed that Goffin and King were amused by Boyd’s particular dancing style, so they wrote “The Loco-Motion” for her and had her record it as a demo (the record was intended for Dee Dee Sharp). However, as King said in an interview with NPR and in her “One to One” concert video, they knew she could sing when they met her, and it would be just a matter of time before they would have her record songs they wrote, the most successful being “The Loco-Motion”. Music producer Don Kirshner of Dimension Records was impressed by the song and Boyd’s voice and had it released. The song reached No. 1 in the United States in 1962. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. After the success of “The Loco-Motion”, Boyd was stereotyped as a dance-craze singer and was given limited material.
Lulu Kennedy-Cairns (born in Sterlingshire, Scotland as Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie; 3 November 1948), known professionally as Lulu, is a Scottish singer, actress, television personality and businesswoman. Noted for her powerful singing voice, Lulu is internationally known, but especially by UK audiences in the 1960s. Later in her career she had hits internationally with “To Sir with Love” from the 1967 film of the same name and with the title song to the 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. In European countries, she is also widely known for her Eurovision Song Contest 1969 winning entry “Boom Bang-a-Bang”, and in the UK for her 1964 hit “Shout”, which was performed at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Barbara Lynn (born in Beaumont, TX as Barbara Lynn Ozen, later Barbara Lynn Cumby, January 16, 1942) is an American rhythm and blues and electric blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. She is best known for her R&B chart-topping hit, “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” (1962). In 2018, Lynn received a National Heritage Fellowship.
Loretta Lynn (Born in Butcher Hollow, KY as Loretta Lynn Webb on April 14, 1932) is an American singer songwriter. In a career which spans six decades in country music, Lynn has released multiple gold albums. She is famous for hits such as “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”, “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)”, “One’s on the Way”, “Fist City” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter” along with the 1980 biographical film of the same name.
Vera Lynn (Born in Essex, England as Dame Vera Margaret Lynn Welch on 20 March 1917 – 18 June 2020) Lynn was an English singer, songwriter and entertainer whose musical recordings and performances were very popular during the Second World War. She was widely referred to as the “Forces’ Sweetheart” and gave outdoor concerts for the troops in Egypt, India and Burma during the war as part of Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). The songs most associated with her are “We’ll Meet Again”, “(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover”, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” and “There’ll Always Be an England”.
Gloria Lynne (born in Harlem, NY as Gloria Wilson; November 23, 1929 – October 15, 2013), also known as Gloria Alleyne, was an American jazz vocalist with a recording career spanning from 1958 to 2007. Lynne sang with the local African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Choir. At the age of 15, she won first prize at the Amateur Night contest at the Apollo Theater. She shared the stage with contemporary night club vocal ensembles as well as with Ella Fitzgerald, she recorded as part of such groups as the Enchanters and the Dell-Tones, in the 1950s. She recorded as a soloist under her birth name, though most of her work was released under her stage name on the Everest and Fontana labels. In 1958, she was signed to Everest.
Although showing much promise early on, especially after TV appearances, including the Harry Belafonte Spectacular, her development suffered through poor management. Some unscrupulous recording ‘executives’ profited while she was left virtually penniless – a victim of unpaid royalties – and only saved by the fact that she was able to work steadily and earn her money from live performances.
During her earlier years on the road, Lynne shared bills with RnB, jazz, traditional pop music, and pop singers including Ray Charles, Billy Eckstine, Johnny Mathis and Ella Fitzgerald. TV specials include two with Harry Belafonte. Her final recording was “I Wish It Would Snow” featuring Bucky Pizzarelli.
Betty Madigan (born in Washington, DC in 1928) Her first hit record was “Double Crossing Blues”, with the Johnny Otis Quintette and the Robins (a vocal group), released in 1950 by Savoy Records, which reached number 1 on the Billboard R&B chart. She made several hit records for Savoy with the Johnny Otis Orchestra, including “Mistrusting Blues” (a duet with Mel Walker) and “Cupid’s Boogie”, both of which also went to number 1 that year. Four more of her records made the Top 10 in the same year: “Misery” (number 9), “Deceivin’ Blues” (number 4), “Wedding Boogie” (number 6), and “Far Away Blues (Xmas Blues)” (number 6). Few female artists performing in any genre had such success in their debut year.
Phillips left Otis and the Savoy label at the end of 1950 and signed with Federal Records. But just as quickly as the hits had started, they stopped. She recorded more than thirty sides for Federal, but only one, “Ring-a-Ding-Doo”, made the charts, reaching number 8 in 1952. Not working with Otis was part of her problem; the other part was her deepening dependence on heroin, to which she was addicted by the middle of the decade.
In 1954, she returned to Houston to live with her father and recuperate. Short on money, she worked in small nightclubs around the South, punctuated by periodic hospital stays in Lexington, Kentucky, to treat her addiction. In 1962, Kenny Rogers discovered her singing at a Houston club and helped her get a contract with Lenox Records, owned by his brother Lelan.
Phillips eventually recovered enough to launch a comeback in 1962. Now billed as Esther Phillips instead of Little Esther, she recorded a country tune, “Release Me”, with the producer Bob Gans. This went to number 1 on the R&B chart and number 8 on the pop chart. After several other minor R&B hits for Lenox, she was signed by Atlantic Records. Her cover of the Beatles’ song “And I Love Him” nearly made the R&B Top 20 in 1965. The Beatles flew her to the UK for her first overseas performances.
She had other hits in the 1960s for Atlantic, such as the critically acclaimed Jimmy Radcliffe song “Try Me”, which featured a saxophone part by King Curtis (and is often mistakenly credited as the James Brown song of the same title), but she had no more chart-toppers.
“Little” Peggy March (born Margaret Annemarie Battavio, March 8, 1948, in Lansdale, Pennsylvania) is an American pop singer. In the United States, she is primarily known for her 1963 million-selling song “I Will Follow Him”. Although she is sometimes remembered as a one-hit wonder (despite many strong and promising singles), she continued to have success in Europe well into the 1970s.
Barbara Mason (born August 9, 1947, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American soul singer with several R&B and pop hits in the 1960s and 1970s, best known for her self-written 1965 hit song “Yes, I’m Ready”. Mason initially focused on songwriting when she entered the music industry in her teens. As a performer, though, she had a major hit single with her third release in 1965, “Yes, I’m Ready” (#5 pop, #2 R&B). She had modest success throughout the rest of the decade on the small Arctic label, run by her manager, top Philadelphia disc-jockey, Jimmy Bishop. She reached the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 again in 1965 with “Sad, Sad Girl”, and “Oh How It Hurts” in 1967. A two-year stay with National General Records, run by a film production company, produced one album and four singles which failed to find success.
The McGuire Sisters were a singing trio (from Middletown, OH) in American popular music. Among their most popular songs are “Sincerely” and “Sugartime,” (https://youtu.be/bRvEHn6fKWE) (RQ 8), both number-one hits.
The group was composed of three sisters:
- Ruby Christine McGuire (July 30, 1926 – December 28, 2018)
- Dorothy “Dottie” McGuire (February 13, 1928 – September 7, 2012)
- Phyllis Jean McGuire (February 14, 1931 – December 29, 2020)
The McGuire Sisters signed with Coral Records in 1952. In the same year, they appeared on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, and Godfrey hired them for his other shows, where they remained for seven years. The November 1953 issue of Cosmopolitan called them “Godfrey’s Merry McGuires”. The sisters often were compared to the Andrews Sisters. Maxene Andrews said in an interview with Joe Franklin on WOR (AM) radio in 1979, “The McGuire Sisters were fine once they stopped imitating the Andrews Sisters.” While working on the Godfrey show, the McGuires befriended the singer Lu Ann Simms and attended her wedding to the music publisher Loring Buzzell in July 1956. Buzzell’s publishing Her first hit record was “Double Crossing Blues”, with the Johnny Otis Quintette and the Robins (a vocal group), released in 1950 by Savoy Records, which reached number 1 on the Billboard R&B chart. She made several hit records for Savoy with the Johnny Otis Orchestra, including “Mistrusting Blues” (a duet with Mel Walker) and “Cupid’s Boogie”, both of which also went to number 1 that year. Four more of her records made the Top 10 in the same year: “Misery” (number 9), “Deceivin’ Blues” (number 4), “Wedding Boogie” (number 6), and “Far Away Blues (Xmas Blues)” (number 6). Few female artists performing in any genre had such success in their debut year.
Phillips left Otis and the Savoy label at the end of 1950 and signed with Federal Records. But just as quickly as the hits had started, they stopped. She recorded more than thirty sides for Federal, but only one, “Ring-a-Ding-Doo”, made the charts, reaching number 8 in 1952. Not working with Otis was part of her problem; the other part was her deepening dependence on heroin, to which she was addicted by the middle of the decade.
In 1954, she returned to Houston to live with her father and recuperate. Short on money, she worked in small nightclubs around the South, punctuated by periodic hospital stays in Lexington, Kentucky, to treat her addiction. In 1962, Kenny Rogersdiscovered her singing at a Houston club and helped her get a contract with Lenox Records, owned by his brother Lelan.
Phillips eventually recovered enough to launch a comeback in 1962. Now billed as Esther Phillips instead of Little Esther, she recorded a country tune, “Release Me”, with the producer Bob Gans. This went to number 1 on the R&B chart and number 8 on the pop chart. After several other minor R&B hits for Lenox, she was signed by Atlantic Records. Her cover of the Beatles’ song “And I Love Him” nearly made the R&B Top 20 in 1965. The Beatles flew her to the UK for her first overseas performances.
She had other hits in the 1960s for Atlantic, such as the critically acclaimed Jimmy Radcliffe song “Try Me”, which featured a saxophone part by King Curtis (and is often mistakenly credited as the James Brown song of the same title), but she had no more chart-toppers.
Bette Midler (born in Honolulu, HA on December 1, 1945) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, author, and comedian. In a career spanning over half a century, Midler has won four Golden Globe Awards, three Grammy Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and two Tony Awards. Midler began her professional career in several Off-Off-Broadway plays prior to her engagements in Fiddler on the Roof and Salvation on Broadway in the late 1960s. She came to prominence in 1970 when she began singing in the Continental Baths, a local gay bathhouse where she managed to build up a core following. Since 1970, Midler has released 14 studio albums as a solo artist, selling over 30 million records worldwide, and has received four Gold, three Platinum, and three Multiplatinum albums by RIAA. Many of her songs became chart hits, including her renditions of “The Rose”, “Wind Beneath My Wings”, “Do You Want to Dance”, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, and “From a Distance.” She won Grammy Awards for Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “The Rose”, and Record of the Year for “Wind Beneath My Wings”.
Jody Miller (born November 29, 1941) is an American country music singer. Born Myrna Joy Miller, in Phoenix, Arizona, she was raised in Blanchard, Oklahoma, the youngest of five sisters. Miller began her career in the early 1960s as a folk/pop singer, singing in the Los Angeles area and appearing on Tom Paxton’s television series. She released her first album on Capitol Records in 1964 and had a modest pop hit that year with “He Walks Like a Man” in the US but a big hit in Australia, reaching No. 8 on the national charts. competition, Miller and Donaggio presented differently arranged versions of the entry “Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)”. The song came in at # 7 and was only a moderate hit until Dusty Springfield recorded an English version in 1966 which was eventually released as “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”. Also in 1965, Jody Miller released an answer record to Roger Miller’s (no relation) blockbuster hit “King of the Road”, titled “Queen of the House” (which became her signature hit, peaking at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100and at number 5 on the country singles chart). Miller won the Grammy award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the song in 1966.
Miller scored a second top 40 pop hit that year with “Home of the Brave”, a No. 25 Hot 100 hit that was historically significant for tackling the issue of noncomformity and tolerance. The theme prevented it from making headway in the more socially conservative country charts of 1965. By the mid-1960s, Miller became a pioneer crossover female vocalist, opening the doors for Linda Ronstadt, Anne Murray, and Olivia Newton-John, and others as a pop singer recording a strong country influence and finding success in both genres. Miller’s pop success petered out by the late 1960s. Tammy Wynette’s record producer, Billy Sherrill, was a fan of Miller. He signed her to Epic Records in 1970 to record specifically for the country market. She had two country hits right off the bat in 1970 with “Look At Mine” nearly making the Top 20 and a Top 20 hit with “If You Think I Love You Now (I Just Started)” in early 1971. She recorded a remake of the Chiffons 1963 hit “He’s So Fine”, which hit the top 5 on the country chart and No. 53 on the pop chart that summer, garnering another Grammy award nomination.
Several major country hits followed, many of them remakes of pop/rock classics such as “Baby I’m Yours,” “Be My Baby,” and “To Know Him is to Love Him”. Among the new country songs she had hits with were the top tens “There’s a Party Goin’ On,” “Good News,” and “Darling, You Can Always Come Back Home.” She also continued to have hits with cover versions of pop hits like “House of the Rising Sun”, a hit for The Animals, “Reflections” (different from the Diana Ross and the Supremes hit), and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, an Aretha Franklin hit. Miller’s last top 30 country hit was 1977’s “When the New Wears Off Our Love” and two years later she made her final chart appearance.
Doris Troy (born Doris Elaine Higginsen; January 6, 1937 – February 16, 2004) was an American R&B singer and songwriter, known to her many fans as “Mama Soul”. Her biggest hit was “Just One Look”(https://youtu.be/GI3OYR_XM0w) (RQ 10) a top 10 hit in 1963. She was also one of the four female back up singers on “The Dark Side of the Moon” (https://youtu.be/DLOth-BuCNY) (RQ 9) by Pink Floyd.
Male Artists (25):
Belafonte, Harry; Berry, Chuck; Berry, Len; Chandler, Gene; Clark, Dee; Croce, Jim; Dawkins, Dale; Desmond, Paul; Donovan (Phillips Leitch); Felicano, Jose; Freeman, Bobby; Gray, Dobie; Hawkins, Dale; Ives, Burl; Jackson, Chuck; Lawrence, Steve; Mason, Dave; Parker, Robert; Perkins, Carl; Peter (Asher) & Gordon (Waller); Richard, Little; Sedaka, Neil; Vee, Bobby; Vinton, Bobby; and Whitman, Slim.
Here are the male artist mini-biographies and links to their music:
Harry Belafonte (born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr.; March 1, 1927) is an American singer, songwriter, activist, and actor. One of the most successful Jamaican American pop stars in history, he was dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the Trinidadian Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) was the first million-selling LP by a single artist. Belafonte is known for his recording of “The Banana Boat Song” (https://youtu.be/YO7M0Hx_1D8) (RQ 9), with its signature lyric “Day-O”. He has recorded and performed in many genres, including blues, folk, gospel, show tunes, and American standards. He has also starred in several films, including Carmen Jones (1954), Island in the Sun (1957), and Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).
Steve Lawrence (born Sidney Liebowitz; July 8, 1935) is an American singer and actor, best known as a member of a duo with his wife Eydie Gormé, billed as “Steve and Eydie.” One of their best duets was “Baby Its Cold Outside”(https://youtu.be/g4kb0hlGA9k) (RQ 10). The two first appeared together as regulars on Tonight Starring Steve Allen in 1954 and continued performing as a duo until Gormé’s retirement in 2009. Gormé died August 10, 2013. Lawrence had success on the record charts in the late 1950s and early 1960s with such hits as “Go Away Little Girl” (https://youtu.be/k0OrTZd5KM0) (RQ 10) (U.S. #1), “Pretty Blue Eyes” (U.S. #9), “Footsteps” (U.S. #7), “Portrait of My Love” (U.S. #9), and “Party Doll” (U.S. #5). “Go Away, Little Girl” sold over one million copies and was awarded a Gold record.
Peter and Gordon were a British pop duo, composed of Peter Asher (b. 1944) and Gordon Waller (1945–2009), who achieved international fame in 1964 with their first single, the million-selling single “A World Without Love”. Peter Asher and his sister Jane were child actors in the 1950s. They played siblings in a 1955 episode of the television series The Adventures of Robin Hood. Jane Asher dated The Beatles’ Paul McCartney between 1963 and 1968, and Peter and Gordon recorded several songs written by McCartney but credited to Lennon–McCartney. Those hits included “A World Without Love” (https://youtu.be/Tdx6lLvvRyg (RQ 10), (US & UK #1), “Nobody I Know” (US #12; UK #10), “I Don’t Want To See You Again” (US #16, but not a hit in the UK), and “Woman”.
Robert Thomas Velline (Born in Fargo, ND. April 30, 1943 – October 24, 2016), known professionally as Bobby Vee, was an American singer, songwriter and musician who was a teen idol in the early 1960s and also appeared in films. According to Billboard magazine, he had thirty-eight Hot 100 chart hits, ten of which reached the Top 20. He produced six gold singles:
- “Devil or Angel” (1960) No6 (17 yrs old). https://youtu.be/XKzurXU0Ewg (RQ 10+)
- “Rubber Ball” (1961) No6. https://youtu.be/z5jrqe8ryJ8. (RQ 10+)
- “Take Good Care of My Baby” (1961) No1. https://youtu.be/awNqLO6auQA. (RQ 10+)
- “Run to Him” (1961) No2. https://youtu.be/RW1w45JOf-g. (RQ 10+)
- “A Night has a Thousand Eyes” (1962) No3. https://youtu.be/ssCLB6Y8zjA. (RQ 10)
- “Come Back When You Grow Up” (1967) (Bobby Vee and The Strangers) No3. https://youtu.be/OJBcNmQUCXw (RQ 10+)
Donovan Phillips Leitch (born 10 May 1946) is a Scottish singer, songwriter and guitarist. He developed an eclectic and distinctive style that blended folk, jazz, pop, psychedelic rock folk and world music (notably calypso). He has lived in Scotland, Hertfordshire (England), London, California, and since at least 2008 in County Cork, Ireland, with his family. Emerging from the British folk scene, Donovan reached fame in the United Kingdom in early 1965 with live performances on the pop TV series Ready Steady Go!.
Chuck Berry contributed to the depth of the music in the 50s and 60s by recording a total of 64 albums along with 45 singles. One of his most popular even today is: “Johnny B. Goode” (https://youtu.be/6ROwVrF0Ceg) (RQ 10+). The song was first introduced in March of 1958. Go ahead a play it, then “cut a rug.”
Len Barry (born Leonard Borisoff; June 12, 1942 – November 5, 2020) was an American vocalist, songwriter, and record producer. He was raised in Philadelphia. Barry had little thought of a show business career while still in school. Instead, he aspired to become a professional basketball player upon his graduation. It was not until he entered military service and had occasion to sing with the US Coast Guard band at Cape May, New Jersey, and was so encouraged by the response of his military audiences, that he decided to make music a career.
Upon his discharge from military service, Barry returned home to Philadelphia and formed the Dovells. Barry was the lead singer, appearing on all of the group’s best selling records, such as “Bristol Stomp” (https://youtu.be/qaCCoXze9Rk) (RQ 8), “Hully Gully Baby” (https://youtu.be/LNGUei3oR0Qhttpand) (RQ 5) “You Can’t Sit Down” https://youtu.be/QXWSoku2shE() (RQ 10) among others. “Bristol Stomp” sold over one million copies and was awarded a RIAA gold disc. As a Dovell, he also toured with James Brown. Barry also made film appearances with the Dovells in films such as Don’t Knock the Twist, and toured the UK with the Motown Revue. Barry also had guest appearances on US television on American Bandstand, Shindig, and Hullabaloo. Soon after leaving the group, Barry recorded his first solo single “Lip Sync” (https://youtu.be/6hcaKsL1bdE) (RQ 6).
As someone who sang rhythm and blues, he recorded hits in 1965 and 1966 for Decca Records in the US and released by Brunswick Records: “1-2-3” (https://youtu.be/DcxcbzAYD9Y) (RQ 10) Like a Baby” (https://youtu.be/KHtASr311eE) (RQ 7) and “I Struck It Rich” (https://youtu.be/6jjym0Lo9ag) (RQ 7) a song he wrote with Leon Huff of the Philadelphia International Record producers, Gamble and Huff.
His first two hits also made the Top Ten of the UK Singles Chart. “1-2-3” reached number three. Those songs also peaked at number 2 and 27 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart respectively. “1-2-3” sold over four million copies, and gave Barry his second RIAA gold disc and a Grammy Award nomination for Contemporary Rock & Roll Male Vocal Performance. Both “1-2-3” and “Like a Baby” were composed by Barry, John Madara, and David White.
PHe performed at the Apollo Theatre in New York; the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.; The Regal Chicago, in Chicago; Illinois; The Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan; and The Uptown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He also toured with Sam Cooke, The Motown Revue in the United Kingdom, and appeared on Top of the Pops. // He became a major singing star in The United Kingdom. Highlights of his European tour included featured performances at the London Palladium and Royal Albert Hall Billboard as well as numerous appearances throughout England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Barry’s respect for the Native American culture led him to write and produce the instrumental “Keem-O-Sabe” (https://youtu.be/Vp7xdlwLvgM) (RQ 5). The song went to number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969 for “The Electric Indian.”
He also did writing and production work with WMOT Productions. With Bobby Eli he helped write the hit singles “Zoom” for Fat Larry’s Band and “Love Town” for Booker Newberry III.
Gene Chandler achieved early success in his career recording “Duke of Earl” in 1962 (https://youtu.be/h6Uht69h8Is) (RQ 10). The record reached Billboards’s No1 rating and was recognized with a gold record. He followed up this recording with “Groovy Situation” (https://youtu.be/QFOnZAzjeoU) (RQ 10) which also won a gold record as well. Afterward, he was briefly jailed for drug use in 1976. At 45, he was living in the Chicagoland area and still keeping his hand in music where he signed Fastfire to a new label in NYC.
Dee Clark was from Blytheville, Arkansas. He lived from 1938-1990. He was only 52 when he passed. His given first name was Delectus. They moved to Chicago in 1941. His mother Essie was a gospel singer and encouraged his son to pursue his love for music. His first recording was done in 1952 called “Hambone.” His first groups he sang for were: The Hambones and Goldentones/Kool Gents. He began his solo career in 1957 following Little Richards style. He produced three hits over the next four years. The first two: “Hey Little Girl (https://youtu.be/fbYEVDpXepw) (RQ 10+) and Just Keep It Up” (https://youtu.be/Yce0Ug5ElWw) (RQ 9) reached the Top20 on Billboard. But the third one in 1961, “Raindrops” (whttps://youtu.be/WUnwOwz6OvQ) (RQ 10+) as a major power ballad augmented by thunderstorm noise. It sold over a million copies. While he produced several more songs, none were as successful as Raindrops.
James Joseph Croce (January 10, 1943 – September 20, 1973) was an American folk and rock singer-songwriter. Between 1966 and 1973, Croce released five studio albums and numerous singles. I have included him in the 1960s group as four of his seven active years occurred then. While he worked very hard learning his trade in the late sixties, his hits started coming in 1972. Then, in 1973, he lost his life in a plane crash…
His first two albums were commercially unsuccessful, failing to chart or produce any hit singles. During this period, Croce took a series of odd jobs to pay bills while he continued to write, record, and perform concerts. After forming a partnership with songwriter and guitarist Maury Muehleisen his fortunes turned in the early 1970s. His breakthrough came in 1972; his third album: “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” (https://youtu.be/iPfM-GROsZ8) (RQ 10) produced three charting singles, including:
“Operator” (https://youtu.be/3RA4MykPm4s) (RQ 10+) and
“Time in a Bottle” (https://youtu.be/dO1rMeYnOmM) (RQ 10+) which reached No. 1 after his death.
The follow-up album, “ Life and Times,” contained the song “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” (https://youtu.be/QvwDohEEQ1E) (RQ 10+) which was the only No. 1 hit he had during his lifetime.
On September 20, 1973, the day before the lead single to his fifth album, “I Got a Name” (https://youtu.be/O_BEFyNNIvM) (RQ 10+) was released, Croce, along with five others, was killed in a plane crash, at the height of his popularity. Croce’s music continued to chart throughout the 1970s following his death. His wife, Ingrid Croce, was his early songwriting partner and she continued to write and record after his death, and his son A. J. Croce himself became a singer-songwriter in the 1990s.
Dale Hawkins began recording in 1956. In 1957, Hawkins was playing at Shreveport, LA clubs, and although his music was influenced by the new rock and roll style of Elvis Presley and the guitar sounds of Scotty Moore, Hawkins blended that with the uniquely heavy blues sound of black Louisiana artists for his recording of his swamp-rock classic, “Susie Q” (https://youtu.be/GmrETlIXzLg) (RQ 9). Fellow Louisiana guitarist and future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer James Burton provided the signature riff and solo.
The song was chosen as one of The Rock and Roll 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll. An accompanying album, Oh! Suzy Q was released in 1958. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version of the song (https://youtu.be/18kqUNG9mO4) on their 1968 debut album helped launch their career and today it is probably the best-known version.
“Take Five” (https://youtu.be/vmDDOFXSgAs) (RQ 10+) is a jazz standard composed by saxophonist Paul Desmond and originally recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet for their album Time Out at Columbia Records’ 30th Street Studios in New York City on July 1, 1959. Two years later it became a surprise hit and the biggest selling jazz single ever! Revived since in numerous movie and television soundtracks, the piece still receives significant radio airplay. The single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1996. “Take Five” is written in the key of E Minor, in ternary (ABA) form. Rhythmically, the five beats to the bar are split unevenly into 3 + 2 quarter noted; that is, the main accents (and chord changes) are on the first and fourth beats.
José Monserrate Feliciano García (born September 10, 1945), better known simply as José Feliciano, is a blind, Puerto Rican musician, singer and composer, best known for many international hits, including his rendition of the Doors “Light My Fire” (https://youtu.be/7RtTWDv-yWMfth) (RQ 10) and the best-selling Christmas single, “Feliz Navidad.” His music is known for its fusion of styles: Latin, jazz, blues, soul and even rock, created primarily with his unique, signature acoustic guitar sound. His oftentimes mellow easy listening influences are easily recognizable in many songs heard around the world.
Robert “Bobby” Thomas Freeman (June 13, 1940 – January 23, 2017) was an American rock, soul and R&B singer, songwriter and record producer from San Francisco, best known for his two Top Ten hits, the first in 1958 on Josie Records called “Do You Want to Dance” (https://youtu.be/_-tmZHMnlAo) (RQ 6) and the second in 1964 for Autumn Records, “C’mon and Swim” (https://youtu.be/h6S5v6lLEgs) (RQ 10+).
Dobie Gray (born Lawrence Darrow Brown; July 26, 1940 – December 6, 2011) was an American singer and songwriter, whose musical career spanned soul, country, pop, and musical theatre. His hit songs included “The In Crowd” (https://youtu.be/qF7KU50IY34) (RQ 9) in 1965 and “Drift Away” (https://youtu.be/gr_eVcCAUXo) (RQ 10+) which was one of the biggest hits of 1973, sold over one million copies, and remains a staple of radio airplay.
In the 1960s, Burl Ives began singing country with greater frequency. In 1962, he released three songs that were popular with both country music and popular music fans: “A Little Bitty Tear”, “Call Me Mister In-Between”, and “Funny Way of Laughin’.” Ives had several film and television roles during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1962, he starred with Rock Hudson in The Spiral Road, which was based on a novel of the same name by Jan de Hartog. He also starred in Disney’s Summer Magic with Hayley Mills, Dorothy McGuire and Eddie Hodges and a score by Robert and Richard Sherman. In 1964, he played the genie in the movie The Brass Bottle with Tony Randall and Barbara Eden. Ives’ “A Holly Jolly Christmas” (https://youtu.be/DtVxFi9C0RA) (RQ 10) charted No4 and “Silver and Gold” became Christmas standards after they were first featured in the 1964 NBC-TV presentation of the Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated family special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Overall he charted 22 single recordings.
Chuck Jackson (born July 22, 1937) is an American R&B singer who was one of the first artists to record material by Burt Bacharach and Hal David successfully. He has performed with moderate success since 1961. His hits include:
“I Don’t Want to Cry” – No36 (https://youtu.be/yK1i7dTgykU) (RQ 7),
“Any Day Now” – No23 (https://youtu.be/3AYI-_makRY) (RQ 10+),
“I Keep Forgettin” – No56 (https://youtu.be/NuK0pm-TubU) (RQ 7) and
“All Over the World” (https://youtu.be/Yn-sd0LcwN8) (RQ 8).
Between 1957 and 1959, he was a member of The Del Vikings, singing lead on the 1957 release “Willete” (https://youtu.be/REK7KpIiS0k) (RQ 6). After leaving them, he was “discovered” by Luther Dixon when he opened for Jackie Wilson at the Apollo Theater. He signed a recording contract with Scepter Records. “I Don’t Want to Cry,” his first single, which he co-wrote (with Luther Dixon) and recorded in November 1960, was his first hit (released in January 1961). The song charted on both the R&B and pop charts.
In 1962, Jackson’s recording of the Burt Bacharach-Bob Hilliard song “Any Day Now” became a huge hit and his signature song. His popularity in the 1960s prompted him to buy the time on his contract from Scepter and move to Motown Records. There he recorded a number of successful singles, including “Honey Come Back” (https://youtu.be/N-S3-w4Lp3M) (RQ 5). He later recorded for All Platinum and other labels, but with minimal success.
David Thomas Mason (born 10 May 1946) is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist from Worcester, who first found fame with the rock band Traffic. Over the course of his career, Mason has played and recorded with many notable pop and rock musicians, including Paul McCartney, George Harrison, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Davis Crosby, Graham Nash, Steve Winwood, Fleetwood Mac, Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell and Cass Elliot. One of Mason’s best known songs is: “Feelin Alright” (https://youtu.be/DQcCqckIM_w) (RQ 6), recorded by Traffic in 1968 and later by many other performers, including Joe Cocker, whose version of the song was a hit in 1969. For Traffic, he also wrote “Hole in My Shoe” (https://youtu.be/a77yHpjdUtU) (RQ 7), a psychedelic pop song that became a hit in its own right. “We Just Disagree” (https://youtu.be/p8_FOQ7-P30) (RQ 10), Mason’s 1977 solo US hit, written by Jim Krueger, has become a staple of US classic hits and adult contemporary radio playlists.
Robert Parker passed (of natural causes) in January of 2020 at 89. He was from New Orleans originally. While he recorded other semi-popular songs, in 1966 “Barefootin” (https://youtu.be/2VZakvxRD44) (RQ 10+) reached No1 on the Billboard charts.
Carl Lee Perkins (April 9, 1932 – January 19, 1998) was an American singer-songwriter who recorded most notably at the Sun Studio, in Memphis beginning in 1954. Amongst his best-known songs are “Blue Suede Shoes” (https://youtu.be/DRNyvO4QouY) (RQ 7), “Matchbox” (https://youtu.be/OTA8m_luor4) (RQ 9) and “Everybody is Trying to Be My Baby” (https://youtu.be/d1sY356CRgM) (RQ 9).
According to Charlie Daniels, “Carl Perkins’ songs personified the rockabilly era, and Carl Perkins’ sound personifies the rockabilly sound more so than anybody involved in it, because he never changed.” Perkins’s songs were recorded by artists (and friends) as influential as Elvis, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash and Eric Clapton which further established his place in the history of popular music. Paul McCartney claimed that “if there were no Carl Perkins, there would be no Beatles.”
Richard Wayne Penniman (December 5, 1932 – May 9, 2020), known as Little Richard, was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He was an influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades. Nicknamed. “The Innovator, The Originator, and the Architect of Rock and Roll”, Richard’s most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his charismatic showmanship and dynamic music, characterized by frenetic piano playing, pounding back beat and raspy shouted vocals, laid the foundation for rock and roll. Richard’s innovative emotive vocalizations and uptempo rhythmic music also played a key role in the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and fink. He influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop; his music helped shape rhythm and blues for generations. In 1955, “Tutti-Frutti” (https://youtu.be/Cj059o9OwqY) (RQ 9), one of Richard’s signature songs, became an instant hit, crossing over to the pop charts in both the United States and overseas in the United Kingdom. His next hit single, “Long Tall Sally” (1956) (https://youtu.be/2OfhmVmhL7s) (RQ 9), hit No. 1 on the Billboard Rhythm and Blues Best-Sellers chart, followed by a rapid succession of fifteen more in less than three years.
Neil Sedaka (born March 13, 1939) is an American pop singer, pianist, composer and record producer. Since his music career began in 1957 as a short-lived founding member of the Tokens, he has sold millions of records as a performer and has written or co-written over 500 songs for himself and others, collaborating mostly with lyricists Howard Greenfield and Phil Cody.
Sedaka was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Mac Sedaka, was a taxi driver and a whose parents came to the United States from Istanbul in 1910. Sedaka’s mother, Eleanor, was of Polish and Russian descent. Neil grew up in Brighton Beach, on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Sedaka was a first cousin of the singer Eydie Gorme, whose mother was Mac Sedaka’s sister.
He demonstrated musical aptitude in his second-grade choral class, and when his teacher sent a note home suggesting he take piano lessons, his mother took a part-time job in an Abraham & Straus department store for six months to pay for a second-hand upright. In 1947, he auditioned successfully for a piano scholarship to the Julliard School of Music’s Preparatory Division for Children, which he attended on Saturdays. His mother wanted him to become a classical pianist like his contemporary Van Cliburn, and Sedaka continued to show fondness for (and capacity to play) classical music throughout his life. At the same time, to his mother’s dismay, Sedaka was discovering pop music; his mother would eventually acquiesce when Sedaka received a five-figure royalty check for his hit “Calendar Girl” in 1961. When Sedaka was 13, a neighbor heard him playing and introduced him to her 16-year-old son, Howard Greenfield, an aspiring poet and lyricist. They became two of the Brill Building’s composers.
Sedaka and Greenfield wrote songs together throughout much of their young lives. Before rock and roll became popular, Sedaka and Greenfield found inspiration from show tunes. When Sedaka became a major teen pop star, the pair continued writing hits for Sedaka and numerous other artists. When the Beatles and the British Invasion took American music in a different direction, Sedaka was left without a recording career. In the early 1970s, he decided a major change in his life was necessary and moved his family to Britain. Sedaka and Greenfield mutually agreed to end their partnership with “Our Last Song Together”. Sedaka began a new composing partnership with lyricist Phil Cody, from Pleasantville, New York. His (10) all-time number one hits faminclude:
- “Oh Carol” (https://youtu.be/e72tG80LmsU). (RQ 6) Italy, 1960
- “One-Way Ticket to the Blues” (https://youtu.be/HwBo0jnAKSw). (RQ 8). Japan, 1960
- “Calendar Girl” (https://youtu.be/qUlOyj9F5gM). (RQ 10+). Canada & Japan, 1961
- “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” – (https://youtu.be/tbad22CKlB4). (RQ 10). Canada. US Billboard Hot 100, 1962
- “La terza luna” (https://youtu.be/i-_fYtklChU). (RQ 10+). Italy, 1963
- “Star-Crossed Lovers” (https://youtu.be/M98Lg1U9-EQ). (RQ 6). Australia, 1969
- “Laughter in the Rain” – (https://youtu.be/MtIibcNDQ6o) (RQ 10+). US Adult Contemporary, 1974; US Billboard Hot 100, 1975
- “The Immigrant” – (https://youtu.be/qNfY62BbInw) (RQ 8). US Adult Contemporary, 1975
- “Bad Blood” – (https://youtu.be/VijNeup2c_8) (RQ 9). US Billboard Hot 100, 1975–76
Robert Stanley Vinton Jr. (born April 16, 1935), known professionally as Bobby Vinton, is an American singer and songwriter who briefly appeared in films. In pop music circles, as a teen idol he became known as “The Polish Prince”, as his music pays tribute to his Polish heritage. His most popular song was “Blue Velvet”, a cover of Tony Bennett’s 1951 song, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963 and number two in the UK in 1990. It also served as inspiration for the film of the same name.
After two years’ service in the United States Army, where he served as a chaplain’s assistant, Vinton was signed to Epic Records in 1960 as a bandleader: “A Young Man With a Big Band”. The break for the Epic Records contract had come after Vinton and his band appeared on Guy Lombardo’s TV Talent Scoutsprogram. However, two albums, Bobby Vinton Dancing At The Hop and Bobby Vinton Plays for his Lil Darlin’s as well as several singles were not successful, and with Epic ready to drop him from its roster, Vinton found his first hit single literally sitting in a reject pile. The song was titled “Roses Are Red My Love,” (https://youtu.be/EYjIdBFpr9E) (RQ 10+). (RQ 10+). Vinton had to do his own promotion for the song; he bought one thousand copies and hired a young woman to deliver a copy of the record and a dozen red roses to every local DJ. It spent four weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was also a hit on the Country and R&B charts. The success of the song pushed Epic to renew Vinton’s contract and change his status from bandleader to solo singer.
Arguably, his most famous song is 1963’s “Blue Velvet,” (https://youtu.be/9Cr_apcZkpY) (RQ 10+), originally a minor hit for Tony Bennett in 1951, that also went to number one. 23 years later, Davis Lynch named his movie Blue Velvet after the song. In 1990, “Blue Velvet” reached number 2 in the UK singles chart, after being featured in a Nivea commercial. The 1990 reissue also hit number 3 in the Irish Singles. Chart and number 7 in Australia.
In 1964, Vinton had two number 1 hits: “There! I’ve Said It Again” (https://youtu.be/YLAhVU0NOm0) (RQ 10). This song was a number 1 hit in 1945 for Vaughn Monroe. The second hit was: “Mr. Lonely” (https://youtu.be/dCwgYCMq11g) (RQ 10). Vinton’s version of “There! I’ve Said It Again” is noteworthy for being the last U.S. Billboard number-one single of the pre-Beatles era, deposed from the Hot 100’s summit by “I Want To Hold Your recorHand.” Also noteworthy is the fact that Vinton continued to have big hit records during the British Invasion, scoring 16 top-ten hits, while Connie Francis, Ricky Nelson, the Shirelles, and other major artists of the early 1960s struggled to reach even the Top 30, though many of them would remain popular in concerts or continue to have hits for certain periods of time.
Vinton wrote “Mr. Lonely” during his chaplain’s assistant service in the U.S. Army in the late 1950s. The song was recorded during the same 1962 session that produced “Roses Are Red” and launched Vinton’s singing career. It was released as an album track on the 1962 Roses Are Red (and other songs for the young & sentimental) LP. Despite pressure from Vinton to release it as a single, Epic instead had Buddy Grecco release it and it flopped. Two years and millions of records sold later, Bobby prevailed on Epic to include “Mr. Lonely” on his Bobby Vinton’s Greatest Hits LP. Soon DJs picked up on the song and airplay resulted in demand for a single release. “Mr. Lonely” shot up the charts in the late fall of 1964 to reach number 1 on the Hot 100 on 12 December 1964. Epic then released the LP Bobby Vinton Mr. Lonely, giving the song a unique claim to fame since it now appeared on three Bobby Vinton albums released within two years. The song has continued to spin gold for its composer in the 45 years since it hit number 1. Harmony Korine named his 2007 film Mister Lonely after the latter and features the song in the film’s opening, and it was also the basis for Akon’s 2005 hit, “Lonely.”
Ottis Dewey Whitman Jr. (January 20, 1923 – June 19, 2013), professionally known by the stage name “Slim” Whitman, was an American country music, western music and folk music artist singer-songwriter and instrumentalist known folir his yodeling abilities and his smooth, high, three-octave-range falsetto in a style christened as “countrypolitan”. He personally stated that he had sold in excess of 120 million records, although the recorded sales figures give 70 million, during a career that spanned over seven decades, and consisted of a prolific output of over 100 albums and around 500 recorded songs, that not only consisted of country music, but also of contemporary gospel, Broadway show tunes, love songs and standards.
In the 1990s and 2000s a new generation was exposed to Whitman through his songs featured in the film Mars Attacks!; his famed “Indian Love Call” (https://youtu.be/HBuk1HXcz1kd) (RQ 9). And, then he would kill the invading Martians every time the record was played and his rendition usfamoof “I Remember You” was heard in Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses.
Bands or Groups (35):
Danny & The Juniors; Day, Bobby & His Satillites; Fred, John & His Playboy Band; Gilmore, Jimmy & The Fireballs; Jay & The Techniques; Little Anthony & The Imperials; Mickey & Sylvia; Santos & Johnny; Shirley & Lee; Small Faces; Spiral Staircase; The American Breed; The Box Tops; The Capitals; The Coasters; The Contours; The Crests, The Danleers; The Dells; The Diamonds; The Exciters; The Fifth Dimension; The Five Satins, The Fleetwoods; The Guess Who; The Isley Brothers; The Knickerbockers; The Left Bank, The Lettermen; The Platters; The Riverias; The Seeds; The Surfaris; The Trempelos; and The Vogues.
Here are individual mini-biographies of each band or group:
Little Anthony and the Imperials is an American rhythm and blues/soul vocal group from New York City founded by Clarence Collins in the 1950s and named in part for its lead singer, Jerome Anthony “Little Anthony” Gourdine, who was noted for his high-pitched voice. In addition to Collins and Gourdine, the original Imperials included Ernest Wright, Glouster “Nate” Rogers, and Tracey Lord, the last two of whom were subsequently replaced by Sammy Strain. Changing their name to “The Imperials”, the group signed with End Records in 1958. Their first single was “Tears on My Pillow” (which was an instant hit. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. The group was one of the very few doo-wop groups to enjoy sustained success on the R&B and pop charts throughout the 1960s. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4, 2009, 23 years after the group’s first year of eligibility for induction.
Brenda Reid, Carolyn (Carol) Johnson, Lillian Walker, and Sylvia Wilbur formed the group while at high school together in Queens, New York City, in 1961. They were originally called the Masterettes, as a sister group to another group called the Masters, and released their first recording, “Follow the Leader”, in early 1962. Wilbur then left the group to be replaced by Penny Carter, and they auditioned for Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, winning a recording contract. Penny Carter then left, and was replaced by Herb Rooney, a member of the Masters; Reid and Rooney later married. The group’s name was changed to The Exciters, and their first hit record, arranged by George “Teacho” Wiltshire and produced by Leiber and Stoller for United Artists Records, was “Tell Him”, which reached no. 4 on the U.S. pop chart in early 1963. The song had previously been released unsuccessfully, as “Tell Her”, by Gil Hamilton later known as Johnny Thunder. According to Jason Ankeny at AllMusic, the Exciters’ version of “Tell Him” “…boasted an intensity that signified a sea change in the presentation and perception of femininity in popular music, paving the way for such tough, sexy acts as the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes.” Dusty Springfield was on a stop-over in New York City en route to Nashville to make a country music album with Springfield in 1962, when she heard The Exciters’ “Tell Him” (https://youtu.be/ox-9l9GElTo) (RQ 9) playing while taking a late-night walk by the Colony Record Store on Broadway. The song helped Springfield decide to embark on a solo career with a pop/soul direction. She’d recall: “The Exciters sort of got you by the throat…out of the blue comes blasting at you “I know something about love”, and that’s it. That’s what I wanna do.” Other songs by the group included “He’s Got the Power” (written by Ellie Greenwich and Tony Powers), “Get Him”, and Northern Soul classic “Blowing Up My Mind”. The Exciters also recorded “Do-Wah-Diddy”, written by Greenwich and Jeff Barry, in 1963; with a revised title of “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” it was covered shortly after by Manfred Mann, for whom it was an international hit. They were one of the opening acts for the Beatles during their first North American tour in August–September 1964. During this tour, they became the first black musicians to perform at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida; the stadium’s management had initially refused to allow the Exciters to perform because of their race, but when the Beatles said they would refuse to perform too, the group was allowed to go on. In 1965, the Exciters left the Leiber-Stoller management team, and the United Artists label, for Roulette Records. There they issued a remake (with revised lyrics) of the Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers’ song “I Want You to Be My Boy”. They continued to record through the 1960s for Bert Berns’ labels Bang and Shout, and later for RCA, but with little success. Ronnie Pace and Skip McPhee replaced Johnson and Walker. The group broke up in 1974.
The Guess Who is a Canadian rock band, from Winnipeg, in 1965. Formed as a garage rock band, their musical style encompassed the pop rock and psychedelic genres. Initially gaining recognition in Canada, the group found international success from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s primarily under the leadership of songwriters Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman (later of Bachman-Turner Overdrive) and recorded many hit singles, including ( I can’t believe “American Woman” was their only No1 Billboard hit):
“No Time”, https://youtu.be/Qq3BylHjiuk (RQ 10+). No5. 1969.
“American Woman”, https://youtu.be/3r_qd2yxIsM, (RQ 10+). No1. 1970.
“Laughing”, https://youtu.be/Bvzdtn43vnI (RQ 10+). No10. 1969.
“These Eyes”, https://youtu.be/xcLdbsrSngA (RQ 10+). No6. 1969.
“Undun”, https://youtu.be/VLMF5GM0Kt8 (RQ 10+). No22. 1969.
“Share the Land”, https://youtu.be/IUpW783GL0E (RQ 10). No10. 1970.
“No Sugar Tonight”, https://youtu.be/yMG-Mi9I0-k (RQ 10). 1969.
Robert James Byrd (July 1, 1930 – July 27, 1990), known by the stage name Bobby Day (and His Satellites) was an American rock and roll and R&B singer, multi instrumentalist, music producer and dsongwriter. He is best known for his 1958 hit record “Rockin’ Robin” (https://youtu.be/4OFESufsZG0) (RQ 7), written by Jimmie Thomas. He also recorded more than thirty other songs including “Little Bitty Pretty One” (https://youtu.be/kQinZhTaWNI) (RQ 9) and “Over and Over” (https://youtu.be/kdboU4i7x7k) (RQ 10+) which also was very popular.
Danny & the Juniors are an American doo-wop and rock and roll vocal group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania originally consisting of Danny Rapp, Dave White, Frank Maffei and Joe Terranova. Formed in 1955, they are most widely recognized for their 1957 hit single “At the Hop” (https://youtu.be/F3SrtN6tMyg) (RQ 9).
Jay & the Techniques was an American pop group formed in Allentown, Pennsylvania during the mid-1960s. The band was best known for its Top 10 debut single, “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” (https://youtu.be/rrk9XUJKuHc) (RQ 8), which was released in 1967 and reached No. 6 in the Billboard Hot100 chart. The track was arranged by Joe Renzetti, and written by Maurice Irby, Jr. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc Although this song served as the band’s primary hut, the group also captured various chart positions with “Keep the Ball Rollin” (#14) (https://youtu.be/TpJ4rVhWhag) (RQ 9) and “Strawberry Shortcake”. “Keep the Ball Rollin” also notched up sales in excess of a million copies, to secure a second gold disc for this group. However, its position on the 1960s pop charts declined after “Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music” was released. They made their final effort with the R&B hit, “Number Onderful”, but after that, the group disbanded.”Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” and “Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music” (the latter a cover of a single first released in 1967 by Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon) were both released in the UK by Mercury Recirds and, while neither song charted in the UK, in the early 1970s both songs became dance favourites of the British Northern Soul music scene.In 1996, Mercury Records released a compilation album of the band’s hits entitled The Best of Jay & The Techniques. Original band members:
- Jay Proctor: Lead vocalist and primary founder of the group
- George “Lucky” Lloyd: Second vocalist
- Dante Dancho: Lead guitar
- Chuck Crowl: Bass guitar
- Karl Landis (Lippowitsch): Drums (was replaced by Paul Coles, Jr.)
- Ronnie Goosley: Saxophone
- Jon Walsh: Trumpet (was replaced by Danny Altieri)
- Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson and Melba Moore often served as backing vocalists
Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs had a monster number one single in late 1963 with “Sugar Shack,” (https://youtu.be/-DW8ecqu0Iw) (RQ 7) a light pop/rocker dominated by the vibrating sound of a primitive precursor to the synthesizer, the Solovox. The song was singled out for special venom by Griel Marcus in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, who called it “the worst excuse for itself rock and roll had yet produced.” The public disagreed, sending it to number one; surprisingly, it also topped the R&B charts. Gilmer and the band made the Top 20 one more time with “Daisy Petal Pickin’,” (https://youtu.be/JAoUxPaav2Q) (RQ 5), a transparent “Sugar Shack” soundalike, right down to the Solovox. They cut various flops for Dot in the mid-’60s, and Gilmer recorded a Buddy Holly tribute album on his own. Signing to Atlantic in 1967, the Fireballs had another Top Ten hit with Tom Paxton’s “Bottle of Wine,” (https://youtu.be/FZynyHW2hfw) (RQ 8) without giving top billing to Gilmer, although he was still in the band. Gilmer left the Fireballs shortly afterwards, though, and the Fireballs saga petered out after a few other low-charting singles in the late ’60s.
John Fred Gourrier (May 8, 1941 – April 14, 2005), known by his stage name John Fred, was an American blue-eyed soul, swamp pop, tick and roll, and R&B performer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. One of their most famous recordings was: “Judy in Disguise” (https://youtu.be/Biu95fyvmLI) (RQ 9).
Mickey Baker and Sylvia Vanderpool were an American R &B duo which produced “Love is Strange” (https://youtu.be/zxZ8rwN8Wrk) (RQ 9) together in 1957. They sang together beginning in 1954. This best known single reached No11 on the U.S. Pop Chart and was awarded a gold disc by RIAA. Sylvia had a followup hit record in 1973 called “Pillow Talk” (https://youtu.be/NA2X1040_gY) (RQ 4). Sylvia passed on in 2011 at the age of 76 and Mickey did so in 2012 at the age of 87.
Brothers Santos and Johnny Farina were an rock and roll instrumental duet from Brooklyn, NY. They were best known for their record “Sleep Walk” (https://youtu.be/YBRCvVpknvg) (RA 9) which was released in 1959. It reached the top of the rock and roll charts. Both continue to be active in the music industry including owning a record company (Aniraf).
Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee topped the R&B charts in the 1950s. They were from New Orleans and began singing together as children in the Baptist church. Their first recording was “I’m Gone” (https://youtu.be/X5F1sfcQSWc) (RC 7) in 1952. They were only 13 at the time and, after a few more songs, became known as “The Sweethearts of the Blues.” I’m Gone reached No2 on the R&B charts. One of their most famous songs from 1956 was “Let the Good Times Roll” (https://youtu.be/uM9yYL6BD-4) (RQ 9).
Small Faces were an English rock band from London, founded in 1965. The group originally consisted of Steve Mariott, Ronnie Lane, Kenny Jones and Jimmy Winston, with Ian McLagan replacing Winston as the band’s keyboardist in 1966. The band was one of the most acclaimed and influential mod groups of the 1960s, recording hit songs such as “Itchycoo Park” (https://youtu.be/JGEgRnvFzLY) (RQ 10), “Lazy Sunday” (https://youtu.be/yzgVk3mOSko) (RQ 10), “All or Nothing” (https://youtu.be/ViKz0gQpzuQ) (RQ 8), and “Tin Soldier” (https://youtu.be/H7v5ZqcReLM) (RQ 9), as well as their concept album “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake.” They later evolved into one of the UK’s most successful psychedelic bands until 1969.
The Spiral Starecase was an American pop band, best known for its 1969 single “More Today Than Yesterday” (https://youtu.be/HRNPppaIW6I) (RQ 10). The band, from Sacramento, California, United States, was recognizable for its horns and lead singer/guitarist Pat Upton’s voice. Thgroup also included Harvey Kaye (organ), Dick Lopes (saxophone), Bobby Raymond (bass guitar), Gene Austin (bass guitar), Vinny Parello (drums), Mark Barrett (drums) and Al Sebay (electric guitar).
The American Breed was formed in in 1958 in Cicero, Illinois, United States, initially known as Gary & The Knight Litesthe. The founding members included Gary Loizzo (vocals and guitar), Charles “Chuck” Colbert, Jr. (bass guitar and vocals), Al Ciner (guitar and vocals), and Jim Michalak (drums). The band enjoyed its greatest success in 1967 and 1968. They released five singles that reached the charts, including “Step Out Of Your Mind”, “Green Light”, and “Bend Me, Shape Me” https://youtu.be/PSHo146tQjQ() (RQ 10). The latter track was their biggest seller, and sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
The Box Tops is an American rock band formed in Memphis in 1967. They are best known for these hits: “The Letter” (https://youtu.be/HIWY8UyW9bw). (RQ 10+).”Cry Like a Baby” (https://youtu.be/dmhtxLSUhYU) (RQ 9).”Soul Deep” (https://youtu.be/jpDNqTjlRes) (RQ 8).They are considered a major blue-eyed soul group of the period. They performed a mixture of current soul music songs by artists such as James & Bobby Purify and Clifford Curry; pop tunes such as “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Keith Reid, Gary Booker, and Mathew Fisher of Procal Harum; and songs written by their producers, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, and Chips Moman. Vocalist Alex Chilton went on to front the power pop band big Star and to launch a career as a solo artist, during which he occasionally performed songs he had sung with the Box Tops.
The Capitols were an American, Detroit, Michigan-based soul trio, widely known in 1966 for their Billboard hit single “Cool Jerk” (https://youtu.be/OX9nOCOjukQ) (RQ 8). The band members were: Sam George, Don Storball, and Richard Mitchell. Seeking to capitalize on the popularity of the dance, and dance songs in general, Storball wrote a song about the pimp jerk, renaming it “Cool Jerk” in order to prevent possible banning by radio stations. Realizing that the song had potential, the group re-formed and contacted McLaughlin in order to secure studio time to record the song.
Attempting to exploit the success of their hit single, the Capitols released two albums in 1966, Dance the Cool Jerk and We Got a Thing That’s in The Groove,both featuring mostly covers of popular Motown and soul songs. Both albums were somewhat of a commercial and critical failure, though Dance the Cool Jerk did spend one week in the Billboard 100 at number 95 in July 1966. The group released eight additional singles after “Cool Jerk”, only two of which made the Billboard charts getting no higher than number 65.
The Coasters are an American rhythm and blues/rock and roll vocal group who had a string of hits in the late 1950s. Members include: J.W. Lance, Primotivo Candelara, Eddie Whitefield and Dennis Anderson. Beginning with “Searchin” (https://youtu.be/CDrxqcxo-Ec) (RQ 4), “Young Blood” (https://youtu.be/e-Exe4YUJyI) (RQ 9) and “Yakety Yak” (https://youtu.be/aJfgHSUlr-s) (RQ 10) were their most memorable songs were written by the songwriting and producing team of Leiber and Stoller. Although the Coasters originated outside of mainstream doo-wop, their records were so frequently imitated that they became an important part of the doo-wop legacy through the 1960s.
The Contours were one of the early African-American soul singing groups signed to Motown Records. The group is best known for its classic chart-topping 1962 hit, “Do You Love Me” (https://youtu.be/l3zJZ2d4cis) (RQ 9) a million-selling single that became a major hit all over again in 1964 covered by the band Dave Clark Five (charted again atNo11).”Do You Love Me,” allegedly, originally was meant for The Temptations. But, in a 2008 interview for MOJO Magazine, Joe Billingslea stated that this was not the case. In the article, Billingslea stated to author Phil Alexander that the song’s author, Motown founder Berry Gordy, offered the song to the Contours first, only intending to give The Temptations the song after he saw that the Contours were having trouble with it. However, after practicing the tune again, Gordy gave the nod—and the song—to the Contours. The resulting record, with its shouted lead vocals from Billy Gordon, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B chart and crossed over to No. 3 on the Hot 100 in 1962. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
The Crests were an American doo wop group, formed by bass vocalist J.T. Carter in the mid 1950s. The group had several top40 hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s on Coed Records. Their most popular song, “16 Candles” (https://youtu.be/yoOuTSBAWWA) (RQ 9) rose to #2 on the Billboard charts in February 1959 selling over one million copies and earning a gold disc status. Another popular on the radio today is “Trouble in Paradise” (https://youtu.be/-G6yszZy1P0) (RQ 7).
The Danleers were an American doo-wop formed in Brooklyn, NY in 1958. They could also easily fit into my blog post “One Hit Wonders” as their 1959 song: “One Summer Night” (https://youtu.be/QT4LJxBBaF0) (RQ 10) sold over one million copies. A great example of a “street corner” group whose original members were: Jimmy Weston, Johnny Lee, Willie Ephraim, Nat McCune and Roosevelt Mays.
The Dells were an American R&B vocal group, vocal quintets. Formed in high school in 1953 by founding members Marvin Junior, Verne Allison, Johnny Funches, Chuck Barksdale, and Mickey and Lucius McGill, under the name the El-Rays. They released their first recording in 1954 and two years later had their first R&B hit with “Oh What a Night.” (https://youtu.be/Z1ozQT8yQXA.) (RQ 10) After disbanding due to a near-fatal car crash in 1958, the band reformed in 1960 with Funches being replaced by Johnny Carter. This lineup remained together until Carter’s death in 2009. In 2004, The Dells were inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. The group performed until illness forced longtime lead singer Marvin Junior and bass vocalist Chuck Barksdale into retirement, ending the group’s 60-year run.
The Diamonds are a Canadian vocal quartet that rose to prominence in the 1950s and early 1960s with 16 Billboard hit records. One of their most popular hits was – “Little Darlin” in 1957 (https://youtu.be/5FYoYYChb0Y) (RQ 9). The original members were Dave Somerville (lead), Ted Kowalski (tenor), Phil Levitt (baritone), and Bill Reed (bass). They were most noted for interpreting and introducing R&B vocal group music to the wider pop music audience. Contrary to a popular myth, the father of Tom Hanks was never a member of the group.
Formed as the Versatiles in late 1965, the group changed its name to “the Fifth Dimension” by 1966. They became well known during the late 1960s and early 1970s for their popular hit songs “Up, Up and Away,”, “Stoned Soul Picnic”, “Medley: Aquarious/Let the Sunshine In” https://youtu.be/VlrQ-bOzpkQ() (RQ 10), “Wedding Bell Blues”,”One Less Bell to Answer”, “Never My Love”, and “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All” as well as The Magic Garden album. The five original members were: Billy Davis Jr., Florence La Rue, Marilyn McCoo, Lemonte McLemore and Ronald Townson.
The Five Statins, formed in New Haven, Connecticut in 1954, consisted of leader Fred Parris, Lewis Peeples, Stanley Dortche, Ed Martin and Jim Freeman and Nat Mosley. With little success, the group reorganized, with Dortche and Peeples leaving, and new member Al Denby entering. The group then recorded “In the Still of the Night” (https://youtu.be/fBT3oDMCWpI) (RQ 9), a big hit in the United States, which was originally released as the B-side to the single, “The Jones Girl”. The single was initially issued on the tiny local “Standord” label (45 stock # 200) and after some local Connecticut sales, it was released the following year on the New York label Ember (45 stock # 1005), and “In The Still Of The Night” ended up charting at number three on the R&B ichart and number 25 on the pop chart.Two singles later, the follow-up track “Pretty Baby (That’s Why I Sing)” (Ember 1025) got weeks of airplay on powerful CHUM in Toronto, in November 1957. An August 1958 release, “A Night To Remember” (Ember 1038), got some Boston airplay. During late 1959 (in SanFrancisco, CA) and early 1960 (in both san Antonio, TX and Rochester, NY), their classic 45 side garnered renewed current airplay, becoming a Top 10 hit in all three listed markets. “In The Still of the Night” became an even bigger hit when it appeared as the lead track on Original Sound Records’ Oldies But Goodies Vol. 1. The series eventually ran to 15 volumes. The series has been in continual print in one form or another since that first volume was released in 1959. In total, their signature track sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
The Fleetwoods were an American singing group from Olympia, Washington, United States, whose members were Gary Troxel, Gretchen Christopher, and Barbara Ellis. The Fleetwoods’ first hit was “Come Softly To Me” (https://youtu.be/Dkf-Dhihdrc) (RQ 10), which was also covered by others. The UK’s Frankie Vaughn and The Kaye Sisters had a Top 10 chart hit in the United Kingdom with the song, though The Fleetwoods exceeded them, simultaneously charting in the UK’s Top 5.
Their second hit, “Graduation’s Here” (https://youtu.be/azowVqsgQyY) (RQ 8) was co-written by Ellis and Christopher, with Troxel later adding a scat line in counterpoint. That one was followed by “Mr. Blue,” (https://youtu.be/_9ceb6uzG3I) (RQ 7) which, like “Come Softly To Me”, also topped the US pop chart.
The Fleetwoods continued recording into the 1960s. They hit the Top 10 again with a remake of thomas Wayne’s “Tragedy” (https://youtu.be/1bohMPplkpY) (RQ 7) in 1961. Though they went on to have a total of eleven hits on the Hot 100, the beginning of the end for the group came when Troxel had to fulfill his obligation to go onto active duty in the United States Navy. He joined the Naval Reserve in 1956. Additionally, the British Invasion of the mid 1960s changed the public’s taste. The trio’s hits ended in 1963 with Barbara Ellis singing melody on “Goodnight My Love” (https://youtu.be/5ZSbONkGyC0) (RQ 10). Vic Dana, who was to go on to a successful solo career, replaced Troxel in the group when he was in the service, solely for live performances.
The Isley Brothers are an American musical group originally from Cincinnati, Ohio that started as a vocal trio consisting of brothers O’Kelly Isley Jr, Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley in the 1950s. With a career spanning over seven decades, the group has been cited as having enjoyed one of the “longest, most influential, and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music.” After moving to the New York City area in the late 1950s, the group had their first successes during these early years, first coming to prominence in 1959 with their fourth single, “Shout,” (https://youtu.be/nEjLFpU2pJ4) (RQ 10+) written by the three brothers. Initially a modest charted single, the song eventually sold over a million copies. In the 1960s, the group recorded songs for a variety of labels including the top 20 single “Twist and Shout” (https://youtu.be/cTaqn8_gMR0) (RQ 10) and the Motown single “This Old Heart of Mine,” (https://youtu.be/5sD8tuRCsec) (RQ 7) before recording and issuing the Grammy Award winning hit “It’s Your Thing” (https://youtu.be/Tqc_EhmL8-E) (RQ 10+) on their own label, T-Neck Records.
The Knickerbockers band was formed in 1962 in Bergenfield, New Jersey, by brothers Beau Charles (guitar and vocals) and John Charles (bass and vocals) (birth names: Robert and John Carlos Cecchino respectively), with fluctuating personnel until 1964, when they met Buddy Randell (vocals and sax) (birth name: William Crandall). Randell was previously of the Rockin’ Saints and The Royal Teens, who had a hit with “Short Shorts” (https://youtu.be/UcvjXAtzaMU) (RQ 7) in 1958. They took their name from Knickerbocker Road (County Route 505), which runs through Tenafly, the next town to the east of Bergenfield. The classic line-up consisted of Randell, the Charles brothers, and drummer Jimmy Walker (previously the drummer with the Massena, New York-based Atco Records act The Castle Kings). They were spotted by producer and singer-songwriter Jerry Fuller playing the University Twist Palace in Albany, New York, and he subsequently signed them to Los Angeles-based Challenge Records. Throughout The Knickerbockers’ three years of recordings, the group tirelessly pursued current trends; the vocals on “Jerk Town” (https://youtu.be/MCh67v_8usE) (RQ 8) for example, are heavily derivative of the Four Seasons. Furthermore, the song’s lyrics refer to “hit rods”, like many other popular songs of the day. The group had a top-20 hit in 1965 with “Lies” (https://youtu.be/1I_bG4VBHCU) (RQ 10+) on which the group emulated the Beatles’ harmonies and playing so perfectly that the record was often passed off to the unsuspecting as an actual Beatles cut. // The follow-up to “Lies” was “One Track Mind” (https://youtu.be/M2JPEtw_3es) which was nearly a hit as well. However, the band’s label, Challenge Records, could not handle the distribution, and the single only reached number 45. The Knickerbockers soldiered on, appearing in the movie Out of Sight (1966) and as regulars on Dick Clark’s ABC-TV program, Where the Action Is (1965–1967).
The Left Banke was an American baroque pop band, formed in New York City in 1965. They are best remembered for their two U.S. hit singles, “Walk Away Renee” (https://youtu.be/qDfrW5cWqMU) (RQ 10) and “Pretty Ballerina” (https://youtu.be/m-Ep5x-DETc) (RQ 8). The band often used what the music press referredto as “baroque” string arrangements, which led to their music being variously termed as “Bach-rock” or “baroque rock.”
The Lettermen are an American male pop vocal trio. The Lettermen’s trademark is close-harmony pop songs with light LP arrangements. The group started in 1959. They have had two Top 10 singles (both #7), 16 Top 10 singles on the Adult Contemporary chart (including one #1), 32 consecutive Billboard chart albums, 11 gold records, and five Grammy nominations. The Lettermen were unknown until they signed with Capitol Records in 1961. Their first single for Capitol, “The Way You Look Tonight,” (https://youtu.be/rahlSR7nvsc) (RQ 10) succeeded on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart and climbed to No. 13. Their next, “When I Fall in Love,” (https://youtu.be/cbL8VsbqKHk) (RQ 10+) reached the Top10 in late 1962 and hit No. 1 on AC. They had several other Top 10 hits, such as 1965’s “Theme from a Summer Place” (https://youtu.be/NlnNHKJam5s) (RQ 10+). In late 1967, Bob Engemann resigned and was replaced by Jim Pike’s younger brother, Gary Pike. The hits continued with the 1967 medley: “Goin Out of My Head” (https://youtu.be/o8gX3pIZUCQ) (RQ 9), “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (https://youtu.be/lRkF82ZTui4) (RQ 8) and in 1968 with “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” (https://youtu.be/do0Hdn_BHno) (rq 10). In the 1969’s “Hurt So Bad”, (https://youtu.be/GTf18vueoKg) (RQ 10) which reached No. 12 and lasted 21 weeks on the Hot 100, second only to the 22 weeks for The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar” within that calendar year. The last successful single was in 1971, John Lennon’s “Love”a solo by Jim Pike.
The Platters are an American vocal group formed in 1952. They are one of the most successful vocal groups of the early rock and roll era. Originally, their distinctive sound was a bridge between the pre-rock Tin Pan Alley tradition and the burgeoning new genre. The act has gone through several personnel changes, with one of the most successful incarnations comprising lead tenor Tony Williams, David Lynch, Paul Robi, Herb Reed, and Zola Taylor. The group had 40 charting singles on the Billboard Hot100 chart between 1955 and 1967, including number-one hit: “Smoke Gets in your Eyes” (https://youtu.be/H2di83WAOhU) (RQ 10+). The Platters are one of the first African-American groups to be accepted as a major chart group and are one of the most successful vocal groups in the world. The group had four top 100 compilation albums in the Australian top 100 between 1975 and 1986.
The Rivieras were made up of teenagers from South Bend Central High School. (This band should not be confused with the Coed Records East Coast rhythm & blues band of the same name which had hits in the late 1950s and the early 1960s.) Originally called the Playmates, but they were forced to change their name as there was already a band with that name. They renamed themselves after an automobile, the Buick Riviera. They were one of the many bands in America that became part of the frat rock movement in the early 1960s. The Rivieras consisted of Marty “Bo” Fortson on vocals and guitar, Joe Pennell on guitar, Otto Nuss on organ, Doug Gean on bass guitar, and Paul Dennert on drums. The band had its only hit in 1964 with a cover version of the song “California Sun” (https://youtu.be/Yy57Xdk9u0o) (RQ 10) by Joe Jones. It climbed the pop charts when the No. 1 song was “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles.
The Seeds were formed in 1965 when lead singer Sky Saxon responded to an advertisement. Saxon, who had relocated to Los Angeles from Salt Lake City, had recorded a string of 45s under the name Richie Marsh. The band secured regular gigs at the LA club Bido Lito’s and quickly gained a local reputation for high energy live performances.
Keyboardist Daryl Hooper was a major factor in the Seeds’ sound; the band was one of the first to utilize keyboard bass. Guitarists Jan Savage (born Buck Jan Reeder) and Jeremy Levine along with drummer Rick Andridge completed the original quintet, but Levine left shortly after the first recording sessions for personal reasons. Although Sky Saxon was usually credited as bass player, he did not play bass on any of the Seeds’ recordings. This was handled by session musicians, usually Harvey Sharpe. On stage, keyboardist Daryl Hooper would perform the bass parts via a separate bass keyboard, in the same manner as Ray Manzarek later did with The Doors.
The Seeds’ first single, “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine,” (https://youtu.be/G48q-u3GznY) (RQ 3) was a regional hit in southern CA in 1965. The song was also played regularly on AM rock stations in northern California (and probably elsewhere), where it was well received by listeners, and eventually went on to become, and is considered today, a 60s cult classic song. The band had a national Top 40 hit, “Pushin to Hard” (https://youtu.be/pNZwCNSSWlI) (RQ 9) in 1966 and performed the song on national television. Three subsequent singles, in 1966 “Mr. Farmer” (https://youtu.be/avAWk2wRnxo) (RQ 4) a re-release of “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine” (1967), and in 1967 “A Thousand Shadows” (https://youtu.be/Z9ADnPQGhno) (RQ 8) achieved more modest success, although all were most popular in southern California. The song’s melody sounds like Pushin’ Too Hard’s. Musically uncomplicated with a flair for simple melodic hooks and dominated by Saxon’s unorthodox vocal delivery, their first two albums, “The Seeds” and “A Web of Sound” are today considered classics of 1960s garage music.
A major turning point for the Seeds came in 1967. The band’s self-produced third album “Future” presented a grander psychedelic artistic statement and thrust the group forward as torchbearers during perhaps the most creative and experimental time in American pop culture and music history. The more expansive musical style with accompanying orchestration – presented with a gatefold sleeve featuring ornate flower-themed artwork by painter Sassin – was a departure from the rawer tone of the band’s previous hits, but nevertheless received acclaim from fans and critics as a notable work of flower power psychedelia. It remains a genre curiosity piece today and is regarded as a pioneering effort in full-blown psychedelic rock. Iggy Pop, Smashing Pumpkins, Animal Collective and members of the Beach Boys have all sourced the band, mentioning this album and previous ones as genre classics.
The release of Future in mid-1967 generally marked the commercial peak of the Seeds’ career, coinciding with a major national hit, raucous concerts, numerous live TV performances, as well as prominent guest appearances on the NBC sitcom The Mothers-in-Law and in the hipper/counterculture-themed cult film Psych-Out. The Seeds also recorded another album devoted specifically to the blues (with liner notes by Muddy Waters). A Full Spoon of Seedy, bearing the artist moniker Sky Saxon Blues Band, was released in November 1967.
The Surfaris were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2019 for their hit instrumental song, “Wipe Out.” (https://youtu.be/p13yZAjhU0M) (RQ 10).
The original band members were Ron Wilson, Jim Fuller, Bob Berryhill, and Pat Connelly. In the fall of 1962, Southern California high school students Jim Fuller and Pat Connolly were a guitar duo before founding The Surfaris in high school after meeting drummer Ron Wilson at a high school dance. After practicing at fellow student Bob Berryhill’s house, they added him as the fourth member. “Wipe Out” was written and recorded by the quartet later that winter, with the song reaching #2 nationally in 1963 before becoming an international hit.
The Tremeloes are an English beat group founded in 1958 in Dagenham, Essex. They initially found success in the British Invasion era with lead singer Brian Poole, scoring a UK chart-topper in 1963 with “Do You Love Me” (https://youtu.be/ONAGbbASIp0) (RQ 10). After Poole’s departure in 1966, the band achieved further success as a four-piece with 13 Top 40 hits on the UK Singles Chart between 1967 and 1971 including “Here Comes My Baby“ (https://youtu.be/LrwVwKimw70) (RQ 8), “Even the Bad Times Are Good”, “(Call Me) Number One”, “Me and My Life” and their most successful single, “Silence is Golden” (https://youtu.be/G1NM8iYbRUY) (RQ 8).
The Vogues are an American vocal group from Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. The original lineup consisted of Bill Burkette (lead baritone), Don Miller (baritone), Hugh Geyer (first tenor), and Chuck Blasko (second tenor). They are best known for their chart-topping singles “You’re the One” (https://youtu.be/mOJ071ExDbk) (RQ 10), “Five O’Clock World” (https://youtu.be/ngqqfHPTrHo) (RQ 10+), “Magic Town” (https://youtu.be/S4onTq5Brpk) (RQ 5) and “Turn Around, Look at Me” (https://youtu.be/VrdQwKlbu4Q) (RQ 10+). In addition to touring the world, the group appeared on American Bandstand, The Tonight Show, and The Ed Sullivan Show. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.