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The Shirelles

The Shirelles were the first major female vocal group of the rock era, defining the so-called girl group sound with their soft, sweet harmonies and yearning innocence. Their music was a blend of pop/rock and R&B -- especially doo wop and smooth uptown soul -- that appealed to listeners across the board, before Motown ever became a crossover phenomenon with white audiences. Even if the Shirelles were not technically the first of their kind, their success was unprecedented, paving the way for legions of imitators; their inviting musical blueprint had an enduring influence not just on their immediate followers, but on future generations of female pop singers, who often updated the style with a more modern sensibility. What was more, they provided some of the earliest hits for important Brill Building songwriters like Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, and Van McCoy.

The Shirelles were originally formed in 1958 in Passaic, NJ, by four high school friends: Doris Coley (later Doris Kenner-Jackson), Addie "Micki" Harris, Shirley Owens (later Shirley Alston), and Beverly Lee. Christening themselves the Poquellos, the girls wrote a song called "I Met Him on a Sunday" and entered their school talent show with it. A school friend had them audition for her mother, Florence Greenberg, who ran a small record label; she was impressed enough to become the group's manager, and changed their name to the Shirelles by combining frequent lead singer Owens' first name with doo woppers the Chantels. The Shirelles' recording of "I Met Him on a Sunday" was licensed by Decca and climbed into the national Top 50 in 1958. Two more singles flopped, however, and Decca passed on further releases. Greenberg instead signed them to her new label, Scepter Records, and brought in producer Luther Dixon, whose imaginative, sometimes string-heavy arrangements would help shape the group's signature sound.

"Dedicated to the One I Love" (1959) and "Tonight's the Night" (1960) both failed to make much of an impact on the pop charts, although the latter was a Top 20 R&B hit. However, they broke big time with the Goffin-King composition "Will You Love Me Tomorrow"; released in late 1960, it went all the way to number one pop, making them the first all-female group of the rock era to accomplish that feat; it also peaked at number two R&B. Its success helped send a re-release of "Dedicated to the One I Love" into the Top Five on both the pop and R&B charts in 1961, and "Mama Said" did the same; a more R&B-flavored outing, "Big John," also went to number two that year. 1962 continued their run of success, most notably with "Soldier Boy," a Luther Dixon/Florence Greenberg tune that became their second pop number one; they also had a Top Ten pop and R&B hit with "Baby It's You." Unfortunately, Dixon subsequently left the label; the Shirelles managed to score one more pop/R&B Top Ten with 1963's "Foolish Little Girl," but found it difficult to maintain their previous level of success.

The group went on to record material for the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, headlined the first integrated concert show in Alabama, and helped a young Dionne Warwick get some of her first exposure (subbing for Owens and Coley when each took a leave of absence to get married). A money dispute with Scepter tied up their recording schedule for a while in 1964, and although it was eventually settled, the Shirelles were still bound to a label where their run was essentially over. Of course, this was also because of the British Invasion, whose bands were among the first to cover their songs; not only their hits, but lesser-known items like "Boys" (the Beatles) and "Sha La La" (a hit for Manfred Mann). The Shirelles scraped the lower reaches of the charts a few more times, making their last appearance, ironically, with 1967's "Last Minute Miracle." Doris Kenner left the group the following year to concentrate on raising her family, and the remaining Shirelles continued as a trio, cutting singles for Bell, United Artists, and RCA through 1971. The group continued to tour the oldies circuit, however, and appeared in the 1973 documentary Let the Good Times Roll. Shirley Alston left for a solo career in 1975, upon which point Doris Kenner-Jackson returned. Micki Harris died of a heart attack during a performance in Atlanta on June 10, 1982, upon which point the group went into what turned out to be a temporary retirement; the three remaining charter members recorded together for the last time on a 1983 Dionne Warwick record. Different Shirelles lineups toured the oldies circuit in the '90s, though Beverly Lee eventually secured the official trademark. They were officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Doris Kenner-Jackson passed away after a bout with breast cancer in Sacramento on February 4, 2000. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Greatest Hits

1. Will You Love Me Tomorrow

2. Dedicated To The One I Love

3. Mama Said

4. Soldier Boy

5. Baby It's You

6. Foolish Little Girl

7. Everybody Loves A Lover

8. Welcome Home Baby

9. Tonights The Night

10. I Met Him On A Sunday (Ronde-Ronde)

x

Track List: The Best of The Shirelles

1. Dedicated To The One I Love

2. Look A Here Baby

3. Tonight's The Night

4. Will You Love Me Tomorrow

5. Boys

6. Mama Said

7. A Thing of the Past

8. What a Sweet Thing That Was

9. Big John

10. Putty in Your Hands

11. Baby It's You

12. Soldier Boy

13. Welcome Home Baby

14. Mama Here Comes The Bride

15. Stop The Music

16. It's Love That Really Counts

17. Everybody Loves A Lover

18. Foolish Little Girl

20. Don't Say Goodnight And Mean Goodbye

21. What Does A Girl Do?

24. Sha La La

26. Thank You Baby

28. Maybe Tonight

31. Last Minute Miracle

Comments

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Lo of my iuokk
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Qp . A. Qmwpk. Zqm. Ap. Qp. Zpl. QP.N ZQPL. qon. Q.bapm a wet pna wilco I'm in a. Q. Qpm pp.o. aphb p ao
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DEDICATED TO YOU BRYON. BSA 1965-1992
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Love is the answer God
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This song is dedicated to my love . Even though he is not with me ,but in a better place. Today is 3 months that i lost you babe. It's getting harder.., but i know we will see each other again. RIP MY LOVE :'(
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This is the best in music ,todays music is just sex bad language
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Me acuerdo 1980 slow dancing in the city of angels slauson/cren s h a w what u know of block partys aaaaaah this oldies but goodies ariva la raza el brilloso maloso
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Just thinking of BH
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Wudd. You cudd you yes this my jam
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Ah yes - the sounds of all that young love running free!
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frankwiener
Here's another song, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, that still sounds as good as it did when I heard it on the radio (Cousin Brucie?) for the first time in 1960. That was more than 55 years ago. Amazing.
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Oldies, *sighs* ever lasting, brings back memories.
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I
I just love everything they sing. Bee
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Sorry for that mistake dedicated to Linda
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This is deck
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Love reading all the comments!
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Brings back so many memories...
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nedmcglynn
Always loved this song.
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Mama said there'd be days like this
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Still love these beauties.
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Was 6 years old when 1st big hit came out, remember like yesterday
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Love it
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I love it WOW!
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pamelaw86.pw
'll ::) judo L uhh til a a / , /. = >
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ecarter8128
MY GIRLS ALWAYS AND FOREVER.
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great memories
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one of Shirrels best
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romiepl, I am in agreement with you - 100%!
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All of them have incredibly sexy voices!!!!
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this more like it, this is my kind of music
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Wow, did not know and yet the Shirelles were always in my music selections/ Crazy, love the information
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t_heath
Carole King wrote some awesome songs back in the sixties!!
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Their is nothing like listening to the OLDIES but GOODIES & PROUD
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This song caused me to miss out on lots of ladies, when they asked.....Wi l l you still love me tomorrow? What could I say? Man, those were the days.... can I get a witness?
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Song 1 album 1 ..? Always a good rola to hear. 6661904
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Indescribabl e . Just a good feeling. Thank you.
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The Shirelles are wonderful, and I really enjoy listening to their music.
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re: 8 months ago kimdiaz49 comment....T h e same happen to my family and me!!....
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I will always love you n in my heart you will always be Rachel , cane805
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Nice oldie!!!
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myara
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Tomarrow and always. I never stopped.
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Mama said sounds a lot like What A wonderful world by Sam Cooke
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Oh what a time we had.never be again.
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I remember this song from the Police Academy movie
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dragonlady60 8 8
Memories!!
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Mama Said....they just don't make music like this anymore. Takes me back to being a little girl...paren t s playing this music
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alnavarijo
If i would've met t shirelles in t restroom like someone said they did i would've been put in jail ! LOL. I love t noise they make. Love it !
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This really good music....som e o n e needs to come forward and compensate them, if they are still with us. As a radio announcer then, I got to meet many of them.....tha t bond will never die. Love you girls.
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wkb4447
What a shame that so many of these absolutely amazing girl groups got virtually nothing in compensation for their fantastic record sales. They worked so hard and the producers, song writers, and label owners got all the bucks.
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