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Shirley & Lee

Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee, born just ten days apart in 1936, scored three massive R&B hits before either one of them were both 20 years old: "Feel So Good," "Let the Good Times Roll," and "I Feel Good" were all written by the talented young couple.

They had one trait in common among their recordings; this New Orleans-based duo almost never sang in harmony, let alone together at all. Their contrasting male-female duet style was later influential on early ska and reggae productions from Jamaica. Shirley & Lee recorded extensively for Eddie Messner and Leo Messner's L.A.-based Aladdin label. The Messners -- along with former NBC radio exec. Lew Chudd's Imperial Records and Art Rupe's Specialty -- seemed to have a knack for signing talent straight out of the Crescent City.

Shirley & Lee's debut single, "I'm Gone," was written and produced by Dave Bartholomew, Imperial's writer/arranger/producer/A&R man and a major contributor to New Orleans-style R&B. (It was Bartholomew's production work with Fats Domino which utilized that talents of a great house band -- pianist Allen Toussaint, bassist Frank Fields, drummer Earl Palmer, and saxophonists Lee Allen, Red Tyler, and Herb Hardesty -- that elevated nearly everything he worked on to "legendary" status.) With their backing "I'm Gone" went on to become a major R&B hit in the fall of 1952.

Early in their careers, Shirley & Lee became known as "the Sweethearts of the Blues," a nickname given not for their personal relationship, but for their romantic sagas of their songs, which often bordered on telling a fictional soap-opera storyline about two lovers. Their fans would buy the singles simply to keep up with the continuing story of the two sweethearts. The story continued with the very next single, "Shirley Come Back to Me," a heartbreaker released in early 1953, followed by "Shirley's Back," later that year. This happy theme continued through the happy ending for the next single, "The Proposal" b/w "Two Happy People."

By the end of the year, Aladdin was reveling in success of the story of Shirley & Lee. Of course, the couple in the songs had already been apart and were now back together, so they had to shake things up with the next release, called "Lee Goofed," and followed that with "Confessin'" but by now the audience seemed to be tiring of the soap opera, so Shirley & Lee moved on to new lyrical subject matter.

Messner decided to try something new for the duo in May of 1955, issuing a medium-tempo rocker called "Feel So Good." The song featured full vocal group backup (reportedly by the Spiders) and did well, but it was the bluesy B-side, "You'd Be Thinking of Me," that put the duo back on the R&B hit charts. "Lee's Dream" also charted. In early 1956, Aladdin released the duo's slow blues ballad, "A Little Word," which received good airplay, but sales weren't spectacular. Trying to get back on track, Aladdin finally opted to issue a full-length album, Let the Good Times Roll, in December. It was reissued two years later on Score, Aladdin's budget label.

By the middle of 1957, Shirley & Lee were back on top, this time with the biggest hit in their careers. Goodman and Lee borrowed one of New Orleans' most familiar refrains and built a rocking tune around it called "Let the Good Times Roll." The recording was an instant smash and received substantial airplay, climbing up the charts in the process. It sold well-over one million copies and for more than 40 years has been a staple of oldies play lists. To date, there are over a hundred cover versions of the song, but most still prefer the original.

The pair stayed on Aladdin into 1959 before moving to Warwick, where they ended up re-recording "Let the Good Times Roll." Other tunes followed -- "I Feel Good" and "The Flirt" among them -- but like many acts, Shirley & Lee were never able to recapture the nationwide success of their biggest hit. After a few final singles in 1962-1963, this time for Imperial -- Aladdin and Imperial continued their rivalry and tried to one-up each other until Aladdin was acquired by Imperial outright -- the "Sweethearts of the Blues" decided to call it a day.

In 1974, Shirley Goodman reappeared on the R&B scene, this time paired with studio musicians -- they called themselves Shirley and Company -- for "Shame, Shame, Shame," released on the Vibration label. (The song also featured Jesus Alvarez supplying lead vocals). The disco-fied hit topped the R&B charts at number one that summer and peaked at number 12 on the pop charts. It was written by producer Sylvia Robinson, who had also been part of a successful '50s duo, Mickey & Sylvia, with Mickey Baker. Robinson also penned Goodman's less successful follow-up "Cry, Cry, Cry." They issued one more single on Vibration, then dropped out of sight. Leonard Lee passed away on October 23, 1976. ~ Bryan Thomas
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: A Date With John Waters

1. Tonight You Belong To Me

2. Jet Boy Jet Girl

3. Ain't Got No Home

5. In Spite Of Ourselves

6. All I Can Do Is Cry

9. Sometimes I Wish I Had A Gun

10. Johnny Are You Queer?

11. (Night Time Is) The Right Time

12. Hit The Road To Dreamland

x

Track List: Caribou & Downbeat 78's Story

Disc 1

1. Calypso Cha Cha

2. Perseverance

7. Animal Instinct

13. Chico Chico

14. Bam Celiena

15. Calypso Rock 'n' Roll

16. Nightfall In Zion "Roll River Jordan"

17. Walls Of Jericho

18. Rege Dege Ding

19. Aitken's Boogie

Disc 2

1. My Mothers Eyes

2. These Foolish Things

3. Let The Good Times Roll

5. Blue Moon

6. Blow Lynn Blow

7. But Officer

8. Let's Make A Whole Lotta Love

9. This Is My Story

10. Move Over Baby

11. Calypso Joe

12. Gambling Woman

14. Just Because

15. Worried Life Blues

17. Diana

18. Vow

20. Tequillo

x

Track List: Jump Blue-Rockin' The Jukes

1. Jump Children

2. King Kong

3. Hucklebuck With Jimmy

4. Flying Home Part 1

5. Deacon Rides Again

7. Messy Bessy

9. Fine Brown Frame

10. See See Rider

11. He May Be Your Man

12. Yes It's You

13. Daybreak

14. When I'm In My Tea

15. I Got Loaded

16. A Fool In Love

17. Sax Shack Boogie

18. Cleo's Boogie

19. Great Big Eyes

21. Teenage Baby

22. Don't Leave Me Baby

23. Wine Wine Wine

24. Let The Good Times Roll

25. I Need You, I Want You

26. Jumpin' Tonight (Midnight Rockin')

x

Track List: Music From The Motion Picture American Me

1. No Sunshine

2. Slippin' Into Darkness

3. Rockin' Robin

5. Heaven & Paradise

6. Let The Good Times Roll

7. I Want To Take You Higher

8. Oye Como Va

x

Track List: One Hit Wonders - A Group Effort

1. Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)

2. Black Denim Trousers

3. Eddie My Love

4. Let The Good Times Roll

5. Peanuts

6. Buzz Buzz Buzz

7. Summertime, Summertime

8. I've Had It

9. So Fine

10. Mule Skinner Blues

11. Heart And Soul

12. Peanut Butter

13. A Little Bit Of Soap

14. I Need Your Lovin'

15. Pop Pop Pop Pie

16. Remember Then

17. The Cinnamon Cinder (It's A Very Nice Dance)

18. Rhythm Of The Rain

19. Sally Go Round The Roses

22. Who Do You Love

23. The Jerk

24. Cool Jerk

25. Psychotic Reaction

27. Next Plane To London

28. Lo Mucho Que Te Quiero

29. Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'

30. Morning Girl

x

Track List: The Cosimo Matassa Story

Disc 1

1. Got A Brand New Baby

2. Four O'Clock Blues

3. Don't Jive Me

4. Tra-La-La

5. Teejim

9. Stormy Weather

10. My Ding-A-Ling

11. Reeling And Rocking

12. Lawdy Miss Clawdy

13. Chee Koo Baby

14. Sweethearts

15. I'm Gone

16. Teachin' And Preachin'

17. Bouncin' The Boogie

18. Early Sunday Morning

20. Country Gal

21. Baby

22. New Bon Ton Roulay

23. Got No Use For You

24. Long Distance Blues

25. I'm Thankful

26. Little School Girl

27. I-Yi

28. Candy Girl

29. Don't Leave Me Baby

30. The Things That I Used To Do

Disc 2

1. Well, I Done Got Over It

2. Tipitina

3. Let's Have Some Fun (Honey)

4. Jock-A-Mo

5. I Didn't Want To Do It

6. You're The One

7. Blue Monday

8. Baby's Gone

9. Sister Lucy

10. 'Til I Say Well Done

11. Every Dog Has His Day

12. Bluesy Me

13. Give It Up

14. Nobody But You

16. That's Enough

18. Cat Music

19. Drunk Drunk Drunk

20. Ain't Gonna Do It

21. I Want To Be Loved

22. Toy Bell

23. You Know Yeah

24. Runnin' Wild

25. It's Too Late Now

26. Real Gone Lover

27. Low And Lonesome

28. Country Woman

29. Say Baby

30. That Night

Disc 3

1. What's It All About?

2. Handwriting On The Wall

3. Mardi Gras Mambo

4. Your Time's Up

5. Eternally Yours

6. Boom Boom

7. Feel So Good

8. I Hear You Knocking

9. Travelin' Mood

10. I Remember

11. Baby

12. So Glad

14. I'm Just A Lonely Guy

15. Tutti Frutti

16. Do Baby Do

17. Who's Been Fooling You?

18. That Girl I Married

19. Rich Woman

20. I'm In Love Again

21. On Bended Knee

22. See You Later, Alligator

24. My Blue Heaven

25. Try Rock'n'roll

26. No No No

27. Long Tall Sally

28. Slippin' And Slidin'

30. Take It Easy, Greasy

Disc 4

1. Rip It Up

2. Ready Teddy

3. Let The Good Times Roll

4. Everybody's Whalin'

8. Rock 'n' Roll Dance

9. The Girl Can't Help It

10. Heebie Jeebies

11. Don't Blame It On Me

14. Down Yonder (We Go Ballin')

15. Shame, Shame, Shame

16. Oooh-Wow

17. (Everytime I Hear) That Mellow Saxophone

18. Rockin' At Cosimo's

19. Stepping High

20. I Feel Good

21. I'm A Fool About Your Love

22. All The Time

24. Ain't Got No Home

25. Hickory Dickory Dock

26. Just To Hold My Hand

27. Oooh-Wee Baby

28. Back Home To Me

29. You Can Fly High

30. Those Lonely, Lonely Feelings

x

Track List: The Golden Age Of American Rock 'N' Roll, Vol. 11

1. Jim Dandy

2. Ruby Baby

3. White Bucks And Saddle Shoes

4. Transfusion

5. Lavender Blue

6. (You're The) Apple Of My Eye

8. Henrietta

9. One Track Mind

10. I Need Your Lovin'

11. Tennessee Waltz

12. Love Is Strange

13. Pretend

14. Drip Drop

15. Chills And Fever

16. Let The Good Times Roll

17. Miss Fine

19. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

20. Goodbye Baby

21. This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'

22. Last Chance

23. Record Hop Blues

24. Without Love (There Is Nothing)

25. Village Of Love

26. Fabulous

28. Smokey Joe's Cafe

29. Come On Over

30. Finger Poppin' Time

Comments

Report as inappropriate
1st time i heard I ever heard FEEL SO GOOD by Shirley & Lee -- lot of good songs on this album
Report as inappropriate
vernelb1
Bio please!
Report as inappropriate
marvins39
agree w/everybody. there should be a bio on Shirley & lee. how about charley & ray?
Report as inappropriate
Lee goofed one of my favorite songs from
Report as inappropriate
gbrnthvr
It's very rare to hear LaVern's version of I'll do The Same for You anywhere (it was on the flip side of her 45 record hit Fe, Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum.)
Report as inappropriate
Love Shirley and Lee and pleasantly surprised to find a Pandora station for them!
Report as inappropriate
Shirley & Lee...one of Porky's staples
Report as inappropriate
The best twosome in R&B history PERIOD!!!!!! ! ! !
Report as inappropriate
Shirley and Lee are great should be a complete Bio on them!
Report as inappropriate
ultraunlimit e d s e r v i c e s
I love Shirley and Lee!!
Report as inappropriate
Bummer! Great music.
Report as inappropriate
affajbar
W-T-F?
Report as inappropriate
why isn't there a proper bio for these two? Also why aren't the original albums listed?

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