The Flirtations (R&B musical group)

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The Flirtations
Also known asThe Gypsies
Origin South Carolina, United States
Genres Rhythm and blues, soul
Years active1960–present
LabelsBurbank Records, Old Town Records, Josie, Deram, Centre City Records
MembersErnestine Pearce
Shirley Pearce
Viola Billups
Past membersLeslie Johnson
Betty Pearce
Loretta Noble

The Flirtations (previously The Gypsies) are an all-female musical group who have recorded since the early 1960s. [1]



In 1962 in New York City, Lestine Johnson and sisters Ernestine Pearce, Shirley Pearce and Betty Pearce from South Carolina formed The Gypsies. In 1964 they signed to Old Town Records, where they released their debut single "Hey There, Hey There". The song achieved airplay only on local radio stations, but their next single — the J.J. Jackson-written "Jerk It" — was more successful, reaching #111 (pop) and #33 (R&B) in the spring of 1965. Despite the relative success of "Jerk It", Lestine Johnson left the group, replaced by Viola Billups. The Gypsies released only two singles on Old Town Records in 1966, giving them a total of four.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

South Carolina U.S. state in the United States

South Carolina is a state in the Southeastern United States and the easternmost of the Deep South. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia across the Savannah River.

Old Town Records was a record label set up by Hy Weiss in New York City. It operated between 1953 and 1966, and was responsible for several R&B and doo-wop hit records.

That year, now on Josie Records, the four women renamed themselves The Flirtations and released the well-regarded northern soul dancer "Change My Darkness Into Light". It was ignored by DJs and sales suffered. The quartet then moved to Festival Records, where they released "Stronger Than Her Love" and "Settle Down" as a single, which failed to spark much interest.

Josie Records American record label

Josie Records was a subsidiary of Jubilee Records in New York City that was active from 1954 to 1971.

Northern soul is a music and dance movement that emerged in Northern England and the English Midlands in the late 1960s from the British mod scene, based on a particular style of black American soul music, especially from the mid-1960s, with a heavy beat and fast tempo.

Festival Records Australian record label; imprint of Festival Records Pty. Ltd.

Festival Records was an Australian recording and publishing company founded in Sydney, Australia, in 1952 and operated until 2005.

Betty Pearce left the group, reducing the Flirtations to a trio. After winning a small local talent contest in 1968 to see who could sound the most like the Supremes, they packed their bags and headed for England, where they signed to the Parrot label and in the fall of 1968 supported the label's star act Tom Jones on his European tour. The Flirtations' sole Parrot release was "Someone Out There", backed with "How Can You Tell Me?" "Someone Out There" rose to second place on the "Bubbling Under" list in September 1968, and the track did afford the Flirtations a chart hit in the Netherlands with a No. 25 peak.

The Supremes American Motown female singing group

The Supremes were an American female singing group and a premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s. Founded as The Primettes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959, the Supremes were the most commercially successful of Motown's acts and are, to date, America's most successful vocal group with 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Most of these hits were written and produced by Motown's main songwriting and production team, Holland–Dozier–Holland. At their peak in the mid-1960s, the Supremes rivaled the Beatles in worldwide popularity, and it is said that their success made it possible for future African American R&B and soul musicians to find mainstream success.

Parrot Records American record label

Parrot Records was an American record label, a division of London Records, which started in 1964. The label usually licensed recordings made by Decca Records, England, for release in the United States and Canada, most notably by the Zombies, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Them, Jonathan King, Hedgehoppers Anonymous, Lulu, Savoy Brown and Alan Price. Other artists included the Detroit-based Frijid Pink, Love Sculpture and Bobby "Boris" Pickett. The label lasted until 1979. After Parrot became defunct, its artists were moved to the London label. The Parrot catalogue is currently managed by Polydor, a unit of Universal Music Group in the US.

Tom Jones (singer) Welsh singer

Sir Thomas John Woodward, known professionally as Tom Jones, is a Welsh singer. His career began with a string of top-ten hits in the mid-1960s. He has toured regularly, with appearances in Las Vegas (1967–2011), and has had several career comebacks, such as his high-profile coaching role on the television talent show The Voice UK from 2012. Jones's powerful voice has been described as a "full-throated, robust baritone".

In late 1968 the trio signed with Deram Records and released what would become their signature recording, "Nothing But A Heartache" — a dense, dynamic, earth-shattering melodrama produced by Englishman Wayne Bickerton and written by Bickerton with Tony Waddington. The B-side was a Christmas song, "Christmastime Is Here Again". "Nothing But a Heartache" rose to first place on the "Bubbling Under" list in December 1968 and gave the Flirtations a second Top 40 hit in the Netherlands, reaching No. 36 in early 1968.

Deram Records British music label

Deram Records was a subsidiary record label of Decca Records established in the United Kingdom in 1966. At the time, U.K. Decca was a different company from the Decca label in the United States, which was owned by MCA Inc. Deram recordings were distributed in the U.S. through UK Decca's American branch known as London Records. Deram was active until 1979, then continued as a reissue label.

Wayne Bickerton was a British musician, songwriter, record producer and music business executive. He became well known, with Tony Waddington, as writer and producer of a series of UK chart hits in the 1970s for The Rubettes, and as a leading figure in SESAC – one of the three major American performing rights organisations.

Anthony Brandon Waddington is an English film producer, songwriter, screenplay writer, record producer, and creative media executive. He became well known, with Wayne Bickerton, as writer and producer of a series of UK chart hits in the 1970s for The Rubettes. He also received an Ivor Novello Award as 'Songwriter of the Year'.

Following an unsuccessful December 1968 US release, "Nothing But a Heartache" was re-issued in the US in early 1969, with "How Can You Tell Me?" now replacing the original seasonal B-side. "Nothing But a Heartache" debuted at No. 93 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 8 March 1969. The single reached the Top 20 in several US markets - its chart peak in Boston was No. 3 - but the staggered regional success indicated by its 14-week Hot 100 run dictated that its national peak - achieved on the 24 May 1969 Hot 100 - would be No. 34. (The Cash Box singles chart peak for "Nothing But a Heartache" was No. 31.) Somewhat reminiscent of mid-1960s Supremes – particularly "Stop! In the Name of Love" — the single is now generally regarded as a pop and Northern soul classic. [2]

<i>Billboard</i> Hot 100 Song chart in U.S

The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the United States for songs, published weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on sales, radio play, and online streaming in the United States.

Stop! In the Name of Love 1965 single by The Supremes

"Stop! In the Name of Love" is a 1965 song recorded by The Supremes for the Motown label.

The follow-up was less of a dance tune than the previous single. "South Carolina" was a ballad that reached only No. 111 pop in July 1969. In 1970, "Keep On Searching" was released and did nothing. However, this may have been due to confusion over whether the newest single was "Searching" or "What's Good About Goodbye My Love". The latter peaked at No. 17 R&B in early 1970, but failed to make a dent in the pop charts. In July 1970 the trio scored another hit with another Bickerton and Waddington song, "Can't Stop Loving You". The song made No. 96 in Cash Box. The same year, Tom Jones also released a version of the song that reached US AC No. 3 and CAN AC No. 5.

1971 saw their sixth and last Deram single, "Give Me Love" (not the George Harrison song). Not originally in their 1970 LP Sounds Like the Flirtations, but subsequently added to their 2008 CD version, it did not do well in the charts. The rest of their singles were not released in the U.S. Misty Browning, from Texas, replaced Viola Billups in 1972. Viola Billups embarked on a solo career as Vie and as Pearly Gates. Browning was followed by Loretta Noble. During 1972, the group were the resident vocal band on the long running BBC TV series It's Cliff Richard , backing Cliff Richard on various numbers, performing their own songs and supporting other guests on the show.

Throughout the 1970s the Flirtations released material on various labels. Polydor titles in 1971 and 1972 included "Little Darling (I Need You)", "Take Me In Your Arms (& Love Me)", "Hold On To Me Babe" and "Love A Little Longer". In 1973, their Mojo Records releases included "Why Didn't I Think of That". In 1975 it was RCA's turn: "Dirty Work", "Mr. Universe", and "One Night of Love", which gained enough sales and airplay for another LP, Love Makes the World Go Round, just before 1976.

The Flirtations recorded Hi-NRG tracks such as "Earthquake" (1983), "Read All About It" (1986) and "Back On My Feet Again" (1989), the latter reuniting Viola with the Pearce sisters. The track became a major hit in South Africa in 1984 reaching No. 6.

The band were rediscovered in the disco and Northern soul circuits of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the U.S.. In the UK "Nothing But A Heartache" was used in an advertising campaign for KFC and, in 2007, was covered by The Freemasons. [3] Ernestine Pearce can be seen at various venues along with Clem Curtis and Jimmy James as part of "The Soul Explosion" tour. [4]

With Ian Levine forming his label Centre City Records, 2007, the ladies recorded regularly for the label compilations. In 2009, they released their first single in 20 years, "Roulette", [5] produced by Soren Jensen for Night Dance Records, including mixes and a music video. The track peaked at No. 10 in Music Week's Commercial Pop Club Chart by December 2009.

Albums discography

Singles discography

The Gypsies

The Flirtations

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  1. "Read Their History, Current Projects | The Flirtations". Burbank Records. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  2. "Various Artists - Northern Soul: 20 Original Classics (Spectrum)", Modculture, 13 March 2011.
  3. "Nothing But A Heartache at Juno Records". 2007-04-23. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  4. "Soul Explosion - Jimmy James and The Vagabonds - Clem Curtis and Earnestine Pearce". Archived from the original on February 8, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  5. "Night Dance Records". Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved November 4, 2013.