The Jaynetts, from The Bronx, NY, recorded one of the more discussed recordings of all time, the mystical-sounding "Sally Go 'Round the Roses," which shot to number two on the pop charts in 1963. Though publicity photos showed three women as the Jaynetts, five were actually in the studio on the "Sally" recording session: Johnnie Louise Richardson (formerly of Johnnie & Joe), Ethel Davis, Mary Sue Wells, Yvonne Bushnell, and Ada Ray. Zell Sanders co-wrote the song with Lona Stevens, who later married producer Abner Spector. Spector, oddly enough, was a Chicago producer who later created blues recordings by the likes of Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Compton & Batteau, and blue-eyed soul singer Wayne Cochran. Around the time of "Sally Go 'Round the Roses," he had worked with the Corsairs and the Tune Weavers.
Spector had worked with Zell Sanders before on a record by the Hearts entitled "Dear Abby," which received some airplay but never charted. Sanders had previously recorded the Hearts, beginning in 1953 when the group members were Hazel Crutchfield, Louise Harris, Joyce Weiss, and at various times, Betty Harris and Baby Washington. The Hearts on "Dear Abby," however, were the same young women who sang on "Sally Go Round the Roses." Obviously, some previous members got upset at Zell using their name so Tuff labeled subsequent recordings the Jaynetts.
Johnnie Louise Richardson remembered Abner Spector (he died of a stroke on October 25, 1988) as an electronics nut. Spector sequestered the girls in the studio on a Friday and didn't allow them to leave until the following week when the recording was completed. Anybody who came in the studio during the enduring week of recording got on the track. Buddy Miles and Artie Butler are remembered as playing on the session. It's rumored Spector had about 20 voices on "Sally," and that the session cost more than $60,000 (unlikely since that was an unheard-of amount of money to spend on a single in 1963).
The song itself has a hypnotic feel, a crazy organ part, nursery rhyme-sounding lyrics, a wall of voices, and an undeniable funky beat. All kinds of theories have been tossed around about the song's meaning. Some say it's a religious experience, about a mental breakdown, about a closeted lesbian, etc.... all garbage. The song is simply a skip-rope rhyme said by girls when they jumped rope; some lyrics were added that fit the music and you had a song. With "Sally" it's not the words, it's that incessant beat, screaming organ, and the fading in and out that drives the tune. Follow-ups to "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" like "Snowman, Snowman," "Sweet Potato Nose," and "Keep an Eye on Her" did nothing. Tuff gave up on the girls, but they continued recording on Zell Sanders' J&S label, recording more non-charters: "Chicken, Chicken Crane or Crow," "Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar," and "Winky Dink." ~ Andrew Hamilton