Girl Groups 1960s
Songs and styles:
Girl Groups of the 1960s




June 15, 2017



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The (smooth) VelvelettesKeen! History & Bios
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Feature Articles...

! Brief Blazing Stars!
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Karen Carpenter! Karen and Olivia in '66
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For the returning fan...

In the Studio

A Glimpse into a 1960s Girl-Group Recording Session


When you listen to one of your old girl-group favorites, do you ever wonder how it was recorded? Here's a first-hand look from Kaye Krebs, an original member of the Pixies Three.

"Birthday Party" was recorded at RecoArt Studio in Philly. But all of our records after that were done in New York at Mira Sound, the premier studio at the time. At our session, we recorded "Cold, Cold Winter" and "442 Glenwood Avenue." I remember this session best because we were so excited to be in the "big leagues," recording where all the hits were made, with some of the most famous musicians of the period.

John Madara and David White were our producers and they wrote the songs and rehearsed us on two weekends prior to the session. Leon Huff (of the famed Gamble and Huff, and who later created the "Sound of Philadelphia" and "Soul Train") was our age, 15 to 17, and played piano for our rehearsals. I played piano for the Pixies for many years, but I was just blown away by Leon Huff, who stood while he played and danced at the same time.

When we got to Mira Sound for the session, the band was already set up and Leroy Lovett, the arranger, was rehearsing them. As I recall, it was a big session: piano, at least three sax players, lead guitar played by the renown Vinnie Bell, bass guitar or maybe acoustic bass, drums and, I believe, a keyboard player and a brass section. They rehearsed for awhile and then the producers asked us to sing--although we would not be recorded. This was just for the band to "get the groove."

After several hours, Madara and White were satisfied with the two instrumental tracks and the musicians left. I asked about that and was told the studio musicians in New York were all union. A "session" was a specific amount of time (like 4 hours, I think) and when you went over that, the overtime was very expensive. By this time, having recorded "Birthday Party" backed with "Our Love," I was aware that WE were actually paying for the session--subtracted from our royalties--and was glad to hear that someone was looking out for the cost.

They put Midge, the lead singer, in a separate enclosed glass booth, but we could see her from our booth. She was on a separate track and Debra and I were on another track since we were both singing in the same microphone. I wondered about this because there weren't enough musicians to use all 24 of the tracks. Later, I found out why they were saving those tracks. They overdubbed our voices probably three times; probably three tracks of Midge and three tracks of Debra and I. It was the style that gave you the big, chorusy sound. I can't even remember how many times we sang those two songs. They never told us which takes they were keeping and which they were not using. When they said, "It’s a wrap," I thought we were done. Little did I know.

We all moved into the control room: the producers, the arranger, our manager, us, and various hangers-on. Brooks Arthur was the engineer. They mixed all the tracks, adding EQ and reverb and I watched and listened in awe as the music came alive. After each run-through, Madara or White would say, "We need tambourines here" or sleigh bells, or hand claps, and one or more people would go into one of the recording booths and add another track to the song. The last thing I remember adding were more "oo's" to the chorus of "442 Glenwood Avenue."

I can't remember how long this session was, but know it was over 24 hours. I remember walking out of the studio the next evening and was confused. Could a day have gone by?

Oldies, oldies, oldies!


If you like girl-groups music of the 1960s, there are likely other oldies you like too!

Why not listen to Johnny Galindo's Vinyl Treasures? This fantastic show has an array of great oldies, including rare girl-group music. Listen now!. Or tune in every Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. Central Time/10:00 p.m. Eastern for Top Shelf Oldies for the newest show. You will love it!

The Pixies Three on Tour with Rolling Stones


Did you know the Pixies Three toured with the Rolling Stones? Yes, the soft, lifting sounds of the Pixies trio were actually paired on tour with the hard-rocking Stones. Here are some memories of that tour from the group members themselves...

We worked with the Rolling Stones on their first American tour in summer 1964. It was one of those multi-act shows with The Dave Clark Five there, too. Not sure if there were other bands, but there may have been.

The Dave Clark Five was a hit with the audience. Of course, they were dressed in matching outfits and were well-groomed. But the Stones were not well-received by audiences and were panned by the media. Their look was new and strange to the audience, we'd guess, and their music was a harder rock than Americans were used to.

We hung out with the Dave Clark Five, since they were our ages, and cute and fun to be with. The Stones kept to themselves, usually behind closed doors. You can imagine, given the times and the fact that they were older, that their offstage persona was as foreign to us as their onstage performance.

Actually, it was the only group we ever worked with that ignored us. Maybe they were embarrassed about their reviews. They were fairly successful in the UK at that time and were surprised not to receive the kind of welcome that the Dave Clark Five got.

Of course, we all know this was short-lived, as the Stones returned to the U.S. in the fall of 1964 and were treated like gods by the media and the public. They were just ahead of their time for their look. And their sound became de rigueur for rock bands after them. At that time, none of us would have ever guessed they could become rock icons, popular even 40 years later!

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For the first time visitor...

Back to the old days

Dippity

Remember the early 1960s...when Coke was just a soft drink...when the only nudity you saw was a Barbie doll, between outfits...when the biggest worry was who Johnny would invite to the prom?

Girl-groups.com takes you back to those days, to the fab era of early 1960s girl groups. Most people can remember the Supremes, the Ronettes, and the Shangri-las. But there were actually hundreds of artists, both groups and solo singers, who were part of the girl-group era from 1960-1966.

Early Lesley Gore Who were these singers? Who made the sound? Why was it so famous, and suddenly gone? Here you'll find an interesting history of the girl groups.

Do you remember a kooky song title? Check out our songs list.


Tang!

Fun Page

Wanna know cool trivia or when your favorite song hit number one? You'll find it: Fun Page.

Girl Group GemsThe girl-group sound is still popular, especially with the advent of CDs. You can find famous artists and one-hit wonders on girl-group CDs and in books about the era.

Review Pages!

Reviews of CDs, DVDs and books from the girl-groups era have been added and all reviews appear in alphabetical order by artist.

Groups and singers include all your favorites and hundreds more you didn't know about! Take a moment to look because that obscure song you can't remember or group you don't expect to find on CD will be there! Check it out:

As requested, we have now categorized the Reviews -- groups, soloists, compilations and more.

You Want It, You Got It!

By popular request, we have added a Q & A page. Read new info and see new pix here!
Q and A about the girl groups. You can email your questions, too!

In this installment, we answer your questions about what defines "the girl-group era," who is the most enduring group and songwriter, with details about characters like Phil Spector and groups like Ruby & the Romantics ("Our Day Will Come"), the Ad-Libs ("Boy From New York City"), the Orlons ("Don't Hang Up"), and the Essex ("Easier Said Than Done").

Featurette

Clairette Clementino!

Known as the "little girl with the big voice," this California native had nine singles over four years. Here's all about her fascinating recording career that started as age 12 and revealed a strong, clear voice perfectly befitting of the girl-group sound! This special feature was written by Ken Friedman. Read all about it: The Little Girl with the Big Voice.




Bette Midler: It's the Girls

Bette Midler, long a girl-groups fan, released her first studio album in eight years--a tribute to the female vocal harmony that inspired her as a young girl.

Titled It's the Girls, this juicy array features not only classic 1960s girl-group hits, but also female-group songs from other eras, such as "It's the Girls" (1931) from the Boswell Sisters and TLC's 1995 hit, "Waterfalls."



But make no mistake about it: 1960s girl groups are front and center, with remakes of songs by the Supremes, the Shangri-Las, the Ronettes, the Shirelles, the Chiffons, the Exciters, the Marvelettes, Darlene Love (who sings her song on the album with Midler), and more.

Midler told Billboard magazine, "I have loved the sound of females harmonizing since I was a kid; I always sang along. Didn't we all?" While many of her renditions have the classic sound of the songs, she successfully experimented. The previously-upbeat tune, "Come and Get These Memories," was rendered as a slow, sad ballad with inimitable Midler tenderness. "You Can't Hurry Love" is even further in left field, as a country song!

The complete track list and the original artists:

Be My Baby - the Ronettes
One Fine Day - the Chiffons
Bei Mir Bist Du Schon - the Andrews Sisters
Baby It's You - the Shirelles
Tell Him - the Exciters
He's Sure the Boy I Love (duet with Darlene Love) - Darlene Love (credited to the Crystals on the original record)
Mr. Sandman - the Chordettes
Come and Get These Memories - Martha & the Vandellas
Too Many Fish in the Sea - the Marvelettes
Teach Me Tonight - the DeCastro Sisters
Waterfalls - TLC
You Can't Hurry Love - the Supremes
Give Him a Great Big Kiss - the Shangri-las
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow - the Shirelles
It's the Girls - the Boswell Sisters

Go here: Bette Midler: It's the Girls to get special pricing for Girl-Groups.com fans. The album is available in CD, vinyl and mp3.


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