|Also known as||The Poquellos, Shirley & the Shirelles|
|Origin||Passaic, New Jersey, US|
|Genres||R&B, doo-wop, pop, soul, Rock music|
|Labels||Tiara, Decca, Scepter, Bell, RCA; UK: Top Rank, Stateside, Pye International|
|Past members|| Shirley Owens |
The Shirelles were an American girl group notable for their rhythm and blues, doo-wop and soul music who gained popularity in the early 1960s. They consisted of schoolmates Shirley Owens (later Shirley Alston Reeves), Doris Coley (later Doris Kenner-Jackson), Addie "Micki" Harris (later Addie Harris McFadden), and Beverly Lee.
Founded in 1957 for a talent show at their high school, they were signed by Florence Greenberg of Tiara Records. Their first single, "I Met Him on a Sunday", was released by Tiara and licensed by Decca Records in 1958. After a brief and unsuccessful period with Decca, they went with Greenberg to her newly formed company, Scepter Records. Working with Luther Dixon, the group rose to fame with "Tonight's the Night". After a successful period of collaboration with Dixon and promotion by Scepter, with seven top 20 hits, the Shirelles left Scepter in 1966. Afterwards, they were unable to maintain their previous popularity.
The Shirelles have been described as having a "naive schoolgirl sound" that contrasted with the sexual themes of many of their songs. Several of their hits used strings and baião-style music. They have been credited with launching the girl group genre, with much of their music reflecting the genre's essence. Their acceptance by both white and black audiences, predating that of the Motown acts, has been noted as reflecting the early success of the Civil Rights Movement. They have received numerous honors, including the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, as well as being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and named one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by Rolling Stone in 2004. Two of their songs, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Tonight's the Night", were selected by Rolling Stone on its list of the greatest songs of all time.
The group that later became the Shirelles was formed in 1957 by four teenage girls from Passaic, New Jersey,under the name the Poquellos (or Pequellos ). The founding members, Shirley Owens (born June 10, 1941, Henderson, NC), Doris Coley (August 2, 1941 Goldsboro, NC– February 4, 2000 Sacramento, CA), Addie "Micki" Harris (January 22, 1940, High Point, NC – June 10, 1982, Atlanta, Georgia), and Beverly Lee (born August 3, 1941 Passaic, NJ), entered a talent show at Passaic High School at the suggestion of a teacher. After hearing them sing "I Met Him on a Sunday", a song they had written for the show, their classmate Mary Jane Greenberg convinced the reluctant Poquellos to meet with her mother, Florence, the owner of Tiara Records. After several months of avoiding Greenberg and telling her that they were not interested in singing professionally, they were booked to Tiara. By the end of the year they had changed their name to the Shirelles, a combination of the first syllable of Owens' given name and -el, reminiscent of then-popular group the Chantels, after briefly using the name the Honeytunes. That year, they released their first song, "I Met Him on a Sunday"; after local success, it was licensed to Decca Records for national broadcast and charted at #50. The song was influenced by doo-wop, but infused with pop melodies.
Tiara Records, along with the Shirelles' contract, was sold to Decca Records in 1959 for $4,000; Greenberg stayed as the manager, securing performances for the group, including one at the Howard Theatre in Washington D.C.After two singles did poorly, including their first release—with Coley as lead vocalist—of "Dedicated to the One I Love", a cover of the "5" Royales song of the same name, Decca returned them to Greenberg and gave up on them, considering them a one-hit act. On Greenberg's new label, Scepter Records, they rereleased "Dedicated to the One I Love" as a single, which peaked at #89; Wayne Wadhams, David Nathan, and Susan Lindsay in Inside the Hits attribute the low rating to poor distribution. In order to better promote the group, Greenberg asked songwriter Luther Dixon, who had previously worked with Perry Como, Nat King Cole, and Pat Boone and co-written the 1959 hit "16 Candles", to write for and produce songs for them. Dixon accepted.
Their first single produced with Dixon, "Tonight's the Night", was released in 1960 and peaked at #39. The success of "Tonight's the Night" led to the girls being booked to perform with several major artists,such as Etta James and Little Richard, and facilitated Scepter's move to a larger office. It was followed by "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", written by husband-wife songwriting team Gerry Goffin and Carole King; the song went on to become the first Billboard number-one hit by an African-American girl group, possibly the first by any girl group. "Tonight's the Night" was later used as the title song for the 1961 album Tonight's the Night , which also included "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Dedicated to the One I Love".
After the success of their singles, the Shirelles became frequent guests of Murray the K, who hosted them on his "All Star Rock Shows" on the New York radio station WINS.During this same period they reissued "Dedicated to the One I Love", which peaked at #3, followed by "Mama Said", then "Baby It's You", written by Burt Bacharach, Luther Dixon, and Mack David, "Soldier Boy", and "Boys", with saxophonist King Curtis.
In 1963 Dixon left Scepter, which presaged a tailing-off of the number of the Shirelles' singles to chart. However, they carried on performing and recording. Dionne Warwick replaced Owens and Coley, who took leave to marry their fiancés, in concerts and the group continued to record material. That year, their song "Foolish Little Girl" reached the pop/R&B Top 10, and they had a cameo in the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World .However, later in 1963 they learned that the trust, holding their royalties, that they were supposed to receive from Scepter on their 21st birthdays, did not exist. In response, they left the label, and later filed a breach of contract suit against the company. Scepter met this with a countersuit for quitting; both suits were withdrawn in 1965, after an agreement was reached. Knowing that Scepter had lied about the trust disappointed the Shirelles, who felt deceived. In a 1981 interview with Bruce Pollock, Owens said that Greenberg had put on a "mother routine", which the girls had "fall[en] for ... completely".
In later years, the Shirelles declined in popularity due in part to pressure from the British Invasionand the heavy competition from other girl groups, including the Chiffons, the Supremes, the Ronettes, Martha & the Vandellas, and the Crystals. During this period, Warwick often replaced Coley on stage due to the latter's family commitments. The Shirelles were still bound to Scepter and thus unable to record for another company until the end of their contract in 1966. Their last single to chart was 1967's "Last Minute Miracle", which peaked at #99.
After the commercial failure of their most recent releases, Coley left the group in 1968 to focus on her family. The remaining three Shirelles recorded songs for several labels, including Bell Records, RCA, and United Artists until 1971. Afterwards, they toured singing their older songs, and participated in the filming of the 1973 documentary Let the Good Times Roll ,recording two songs for it. Coley returned as lead singer in 1975, replacing Owens, who left that year to pursue a solo career. Addie "Micki" Harris died of a heart attack on June 10, 1982, in the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Georgia after two performances with the group . The following year, the remaining three original members performed "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" with Warwick on her album How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye .
Today, the original members tour in different, separate, groups,although the trademark to the Shirelles name was eventually acquired by Lee. Shirley Owens performed on the Doo Wop 51 PBS special in 2000, and continues to tour under the name 'Shirley Alston Reeves and her Shirelles'. Lee currently tours with new members, billed as "The Shirelles". Doris Coley died in Sacramento, California, on February 4, 2000, of breast cancer.
Wadhams, Nathan, and Lindsay describe the style of the Shirelles early work as "tight, almost doo-wop harmony".Owens' vocals, described by rock n' roll writer Alwyn W. Turner as being "wonderfully expressive", were capable of sounding "almost, but not quite" out of tune, which in his opinion led to Owens' sounding innocent in her songs; music critic Albin Zak describes her vocals as being able to intone desire and vulnerability. The other members, singing backup, also convey what Michael Campbell, a professor of music at Western Illinois University, calls a "naive schoolgirl sound". The lyrics sung by the Shirelles tended to be fairly simple and "barely" concealed the subtexts of the songs. The songs were implicitly directed at female listeners, with the male subjects of songs being referred to as "he" instead of "you"; this was a change from previous female-written songs, which tended to be more gender neutral, and helped pave the way for the "confessional" songs of 70s singers like Joni Mitchell and Carole King.
Musically, their works with Dixon were influenced by Brazilian baião and featured numerous instances of syncopation.
Steve Huey of AllMusic notes that the Shirelles defined "the so-called girl group sound with their soft, sweet harmonies and yearning innocence", with their songs predating Motown in their widespread crossing of racial demographics, both in the US and in Britain. He also notes that they spawned "legions of imitators", and laid a blueprint for future female pop stars to follow.Turner writes that the Shirelles "launched [the girl group] genre", noting that their early work already included "the essence" of the genre; Alwyn Zak expands on the statement, noting that the influx of female groups started after the success of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow".
Michael Campbell notes that the Shirelles' success reflected the Civil Rights Movement. He indicates that works such as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", written by a white couple, produced by an African-American man, with vocals by young African-American women and strings sounding like they were targeted at a white audience, conveyed a "color-blind" message on top of its more obvious sexual one.
In 1994, the Shirelles were honored by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation with the Pioneer Award for their contributions to music.The award was accepted by Owens, Lee, and Kenner. As Coley was accepting her award, she said "This is dedicated to the one I love", and sang an impromptu rendition of "Soldier Boy" together with Owens and Lee. Two years later they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, together with Gladys Knight & the Pips. At the ceremony in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, the three surviving members sang a medley of songs after being presented the awards by Merry Clayton, Marianne Faithfull, and Darlene Love. In 2002, they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Lee and Owens accepted the award.
In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked them #76 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Paul Shaffer, who did the write-up, wrote that the girl-group sound, originated by them, was "everything to [him]"; he also described their impromptu performance of "Soldier Boy" as inspiring.They also included two of the Shirelles' songs, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Tonight's the Night", on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In the 2010 edition, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" was ranked 126th, while "Tonight's the Night" was ranked 409th. The Shirelles' 1963 Greatest Hits album was included in Robert Christgau's "Basic Record Library" of 1950s and 1960s recordings, published in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981).
In September 2008, the Shirelles' hometown of Passaic honored the group by renaming a section of Paulison Avenue between Passaic and Pennington Avenues (the section where Passaic High School is located) "Shirelles Boulevard". The dedication ceremony was attended by both surviving Shirelles. Owens said that it was different than when they were inducted into the Hall of Fame, as it was their home town. She noted that "the people who loves [ sic ] us and we loved are right here."
The Shirelles' story was shown in Baby It's You! (a musical revue written by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott), which follows the story of Greenberg and Scepter Records.The revue played on Broadway for 148 performances, opening at the Broadhurst Theatre on April 27, 2011, and closing on September 4 of the same year. The use of their likenesses without permission led to Lee, as well as the estates of Coley and Harris, to sue Warner Bros.
|Year||Album||Billboard 200||Record Label|
|1960||Tonight's the Night||–||Scepter Records|
|The Shirelles Sing to Trumpets and Strings||–|
|1962||The Shirelles and King Curtis Give a Twist Party||–|
|Baby It's You|
|1963||Foolish Little Girl||133|
|1965||Hear and Now||–||Pricewise Records|
|Swing the Most||–|
|1967||Spontaneous Combustion||–||Scepter Records|
|1971||Happy and in Love||–||RCA Records|
|1973||Eternally, Soul||–||Scepter Records|
|Year||Album||Billboard 200||Record Label|
|1963||The Shirelles' Greatest Hits||67||Scepter Records|
|1964||The Shirelles Sing the Golden Oldies||–|
|1967||The Shirelles's Greatest Hits Vol. II||–|
|1972||Remember When Volume 1||–||Wand Records|
|Remember When Volume 2||–|
|1975||The Very Best of The Shirelles||–||United Artists Records|
|1984||Anthology 1959-1964||–||Rhino Records|
|Year||Single (A-side, B-side)|
Both sides from same album except where indicated
|1958||"I Met Him On A Sunday (Ronde-Ronde)"|
b/w "I Want You To Be My Boyfriend"
|"My Love Is A Charm"|
b/w "Slop Time"
|"I Got The Message"|
b/w "Stop Me"
|1959||"Dedicated To The One I Love"|
b/w "Look A Here Baby" (Non-album track)
|83||Tonight's The Night|
|"Doin' The Ronde"|
b/w "A Teardrop and A Lollipop" (Non-album track)
|1960||"Please Be My Boyfriend"|
b/w "I Saw A Tear" (from The Shirelles Sing To Trumpets and Strings)
|The Shirelles' Greatest Hits Vol. II|
|"Tonight's The Night"|
b/w "The Dance Is Over"
|39||14||Tonight's The Night|
|"Will You Love Me Tomorrow"|
|1961||"Dedicated To The One I Love" (reissue)|
b/w "Look A Here Baby" (Non-album track)
b/w "Blue Holiday"
|4||2||The Shirelles Sing To Trumpets and Strings|
|"A Thing Of The Past"|
b/w "What A Sweet Thing That Was"
|41||26||Baby It's You|
|"What A Sweet Thing That Was"||54||The Shirelles Sing To Trumpets and Strings|
|"Big John (Ain't You Gonna Marry Me)"|
|21||2||Baby It's You|
|"Baby It's You" /||8||3|
|"The Things I Want To Hear (Pretty Words)"||107|
|1962||"Soldier Boy" /||1||3||23|
|"Love Is A Swingin' Thing"||109||Twist Party (With King Curtis)|
|"Welcome Home, Baby" /||22||20|
|"Mama, Here Comes The Bride"||104|
|"Stop The Music" /||36||The Shirelles' Greatest Hits|
|"It's Love That Really Counts (In The Long Run)"||102|
|"Everybody Loves A Lover"|
b/w "I Don't Think So" (from Foolish Little Girl)
|1963||"Foolish Little Girl" /||4||9||38||Foolish Little Girl|
|"Not For All the Money In The World"||100|
|"Don't Say Goodnight and Mean Goodbye"|
b/w "I Didn't Mean To Hurt You"
|"What Does A Girl Do?"|
b/w "Don't Let It Happen To Us" (Non-album track)
|53||*||The Shirelles Swing The Most|
|"It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" /||92||*||It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World|
|1964||"Tonight You're Gonna Fall In Love With Me"|
b/w "20th Century Rock N' Roll" (from It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World)
|57||*||Hear & Now|
b/w "His Lips Get In The Way" (from The Shirelles Swing The Most)
|"Thank You Baby"|
b/w "Dooms Day" (from Hear & Now)
|63||*||The Shirelles' Greatest Hits Vol. II|
|"Maybe Tonight" /||88||*||Hear & Now|
|"Are You Still My Baby"|
b/w "I Saw A Tear" (from The Shirelles Sing To Trumpets and Strings)
|1965||"Shhh, I'm Watching The Movie"|
b/w "A Plus B"
|"March (You'll Be Sorry)"|
b/w "Everybody's Goin' Mad" (from It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World)
|"My Heart Belongs To You"|
b/w "Love That Man" (Non-album track)
|125||The Shirelles' Greatest Hits Vol. II|
|"Mama, My Soldier Boy Is Coming Home"|
b/w "Soldier Boy" (from Baby, It's You)
|1966||"I Met Him On A Sunday - '66"|
b/w "Love That Man" (Non-album track)
|The Shirelles' Greatest Hits Vol. II|
|"Que Sera Sera"|
b/w "Till My Baby Comes Home"
|"Shades Of Blue"|
b/w "When The Boys Talk About The Girls" (from Remember When)
b/w "Look Away"
|1967||"Don't Go Home (My Little Darlin')"|
b/w "Nobody Baby After You" (Non-album track)
|110||The Shirelles' Greatest Hits Vol. II|
|"Bright Shiny Colors"|
b/w "Too Much Of A Good Thing"
|"Last Minute Miracle"|
b/w "No Doubt About It"
|1968||"Sweet Sweet Lovin'"|
b/w "Don't Mess With Cupid"
|"Call Me (If You Want Me)"|
b/w "There's A Storm Going On In My Heart"
|1969||"A Most Unusual Boy"|
b/w "Look What You've Done To My Heart"
b/w "Looking Glass"
|"Go Away and Find Yourself"|
b/w "Never Give You Up (Never Gonna Give You Up)"
|1970||"There Goes My Baby/Be My Baby"|
b/w "Strange, I Love You"
|"It's Gonna Take A Miracle"|
|"Dedicated To The One I Love" (new version)|
b/w "Take Me"
|1971||"No Sugar Tonight"|
b/w "Strange, I Love You"
|Happy and In Love|
b/w "Brother, Brother"
|1973||"Let's Give Each Other Love"|
b/w "Deep In The Night" (from The Shirelles)
|"Do What You've A Mind To"|
b/w "Touch The Wind"
* no R&B Charts printed by Billboard during these chart runs
Scepter Records was an American record company founded in 1959 by Florence Greenberg.
Shirley Alston Reeves, born Shirley Owens, is an American soul singer who was the main lead singer of the hit girl group the Shirelles. In addition to Owens, the Shirelles consisted of classmates of hers from Passaic High School, New Jersey: Doris Kenner Jackson, Addie "Micki" Harris McPhadden and Beverly Lee. Through marriages, she became Shirley Alston and later, Shirley Alston Reeves. Her strong, distinctive voice meant that she was the natural choice for their main lead singer, though Jackson was also featured as lead on several songs as well. Her nephew, Gerald Alston is the lead singer of The Manhattans.
"Baby It's You" is a song written by Burt Bacharach (music), Luther Dixon, and Mack David (lyrics). It was recorded by the Shirelles and the Beatles, and was a hit for both. The highest-charting version of "Baby It's You" was by the band Smith, who took the song to number five on the US charts in 1969.
"Boys" is a song by Luther Dixon and Wes Farrell, originally performed by the Shirelles and released as the B-side of their "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" single in November 1960. It was recorded more than two years later by the Beatles and included on their first album released in the United Kingdom, Please Please Me (1963).
"Will You Love Me Tomorrow", sometimes known as "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow", is a song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. It was originally recorded in 1960 by the Shirelles, who took their single to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is also notable for being the first song by a Black all-girl group to reach number one in the United States. It has since been recorded by many artists over the years, including a 1971 version by co-writer Carole King.
"Oh No Not My Baby" is a song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. The song's lyrics describe how friends and family repeatedly warn the singer about a partner's infidelities. The song is regarded as an American standard due to its long-time popularity with both music listeners and recording artists.
England Dan & John Ford Coley were an American soft rock duo composed of Danny Wayland "England Dan" Seals and John Edward "John Ford" Coley, active throughout the 1970s. Native Texans, they are best known for their 1976 single "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight", a No. 2 hit in the Billboard Hot 100 and a No. 1 Adult Contemporary hit. After they disbanded, Seals began performing as Dan Seals and launched a country music career through the 1980s which produced 11 No. 1 country hits.
"Soldier Boy" is a song written by Luther Dixon and Florence Greenberg and made famous by the girl group the Shirelles.
"Make It Easy on Yourself" is a popular song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David which was first a hit for Jerry Butler in 1962. The best known version is the 1965 recording by the Walker Brothers for whom it was a #1 UK hit. Dionne Warwick, who made a demo of this song in early 1962, later had a hit with the song in 1970.
Tommy Hunt is an American soul/northern soul singer, and a 2001 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee as a member of famed R&B group The Flamingos.
We the Kings is an American rock band from Bradenton, Florida. The band's self-titled full-length debut album, released in 2007, included the platinum single "Check Yes Juliet", and went on to sell over 250,000 copies in the US. The group's second album Smile Kid (2009) included Top 40 singles "Heaven Can Wait" and "We'll Be a Dream", as well as the single "She Takes Me High".
Tonight's the Night is the debut album by American girl group the Shirelles, released in December 1960 by Scepter Records. It contains the hit song "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" as well as "Tonight's the Night", which became a minor hit for the Shirelles. The Album was remastered and Restored by Cornbread Records. It was then reissued in 2017 on 180 Gram Vinyl with 2 bonus tracks, one track was " Look A Here Baby" on the end of side A and the second track was "A Teardrop And A Lollipop" on the end of side B.
Baby It's You is a studio album by the Shirelles, released in 1962. It contains the hits "Baby It's You" and "Soldier Boy".
"Tonight's the Night" is the title and lead track from the Shirelles' 1961 album Tonight's the Night. Written by Luther Dixon and Shirley Owens, the song dealt with a woman's feelings before losing her virginity and was released as the pre-album's second single in 1960. In 2010, Rolling Stone listed as one of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
Luther Dixon was an American songwriter, record producer, and singer. Dixon's songs achieved their greatest success in the 1950s and 1960s, and were recorded by Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Jackson 5, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dusty Springfield, Jimmy Reed and others. As a producer, Dixon helped create the signature sound of the girl group the Shirelles.
Foolish Little Girl is a 1963 album by The Shirelles. The title track turned out to be the last of the group's big hits, stopping at number four on the U.S. pop charts. The album's other single, "Don't Say Goodnight and Mean Goodbye," was The Shirelles' last top forty US hit. Despite their weakening chart impact, the demand for Shirelles recordings continued to grow. The same year, they had provided material for the film It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. By this period, the main producer of The Shirelles, Luther Dixon, had gone to Capitol Records and production was taken over by Stan Green; some of Dixon's previously recorded tracks with the group appear on this album. Foolish Little Girl also contains material by Ellie Greenwich and Van McCoy.
Baby It's You! is a jukebox musical written by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott, featuring pop and rock hits of the 1960s, with a special emphasis on songs by the Shirelles and other acts signed to Scepter Records. The show "tells the story of Florence Greenberg and Scepter Records, the label Greenberg started when she signed the Shirelles." After several tryouts and premieres, the show debuted on Broadway in April 2011, directed by Sheldon Epps.
Florence Greenberg was an American record label owner, music executive and a record producer. Greenberg was the founder and owner of Tiara Records, Scepter Records, Hob Records, and Wand Records. She is most known for her work as a record producer and music executive for several popular singers in the 60s including Dionne Warwick, the Shirelles, Tammi Terrell, Chuck Jackson, B.J. Thomas and many others.
"Foolish Little Girl" is a song written by Helen Miller and Howard Greenfield and performed by The Shirelles. The song reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, #9 on the R&B chart, and #38 on the UK Singles Chart in 1963. The song appeared on their 1963 album, Foolish Little Girl.
Though the music itself developed in African-American communities, the Jewish influence in rhythm and blues, particularly in terms of the music's presentation to a wider audience, was important. According to the Jewish writer, music publishing executive,and songwriter Arnold Shaw, during the 1940s in the United States there was generally little opportunity for Jews in the WASP-controlled realm of mass communications, but the music business was "wide open for Jews as it was for blacks."Jews played a key role in developing and popularizing African American music, including rhythm and blues, and the independent record business was dominated by young Jewish men, and some women, who promoted the sounds of black music.
^ Clemente, John (2000). Girl Groups—Fabulous Females That Rocked The World. Iola, Wisc. Krause Publications. pp. 276. ISBN 0-87341-816-6. ^ Clemente, John (2013). Girl Groups—Fabulous Females Who Rocked The World. Bloomington, IN Authorhouse Publications. pp. 623. ISBN 978-1-4772-7633-4 (sc); ISBN 978-1-4772-8128-4 (e).