Big Dreams … Bigger Hair … Girl Groups !

The Secrets, 1963

The Secrets, 1963... From

Big dreams. Bigger hair. The Secrets… the Crystals… the Ronettes… the Tammys. In 1963, there were ninety-three million girl groups, but it was all about the hair. If you had big hair, and a voice that could stay more-or-less on key, then you were allowed to record a 45. If the record was a hit, then your next 45 was allowed to have a picture sleeve. If  THAT record was a hit, then you were able to record an “album” of your “greatest hits–” the four songs from your two 45s, plus eight other songs (usually covers of other people’s hits). By 1964, you and your career were off the charts. Sucks, huh? Still, 1963 was a banner year for girl group music, with many chart hits devoted to the sound. And, actually, just a few writers and producers based in the Brill Building were responsible for most of the butterscotch that poured from transistor radios that year. Phil Spector (yes, him) worked with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil  over at Philles Records (for the aforementioned Crystals and Ronettes, plus the great Darlene Love); Carole King and Gerry Goffin worked with Don Kirschner at Dimension (Little Eva; the Cookies); and Leiber and Stoller worked with Barry and Greenwich at Red Bird, who were responsible for massive hits by the Shangri-Las, the Butterflys, and the Jelly Beans. The Secrets were a group of sweethearts from Ohio, who loved doing sock hops and driving from gig to gig in their car; they probably had the biggest hair of all. Another group, called the Girlfriends, recorded my namesake song that year– penned by David gates of “Bread” fame,” “My One and Only Jimmy Boy” was a mid-chart stormer that year.  That particular ditty sounds like a femme thunderstorm rolling from your speakers.

And then there were the Faith Tones, whose picture you see below. Since this is a Christian girl group, the hair could place them as having posed anywhere from 1959 through 1979. Who can say? And do higher hairdos denote a person’s furthercloseness to God and the heavens? All that hairspray is RUINING the heavens… but I guess the Faith Tones were warbling before things like Earth Day and Earth shoes were hot. Further research may unearth the particulars regarding this album. (Do you have a minute?) The Faith Tone on the right resembles a boy I went to high school with. (Jeff, do you know who? Stephen, how about you?) I wonder if they all went to the beauty parlor together that day… and how long did they take for them to decide who wore which scarf?  And why didn’t she take off her glasses? Maybe she had an unsightly sty.  Who knows? The answers are lost in the mists of the 60s, along with their boyfriends…


The Joyful Sounds, also a Christian group, were adept at convincing their mothers to whip up matching creations from Butterick patterns:


And last, but not least, the fetching Geraldine:



A Little Fun with Sharon Marie

Sharon Marie

Sharon Marie Esparza is a favorite unheralded girl-group wonder from 1960s California. Run Around Lover is one of my favorite “girl-group” songs, though recorded by a single lass with a refreshingly basso voice– so unlike the many high-pitched stars of 1963 radio: Lesley Gore, Marcie Blane, etc. She was a Beach Boys protege, and I’ve read that she dated one of them– Mike Love?  [That may not be true, according to a message posted to this blog.] In any event, this is a good example of Brian Wilson recording in the “Phil Spector style,” heightened with fabulous surf drums. Sharon Marie recorded eight songs; this is the best. The background vocals are provided by The Blossoms, the lead singer of whom is my favorite– Darlene Love. You can clearly her smoky warbling throughout the song, as the Blossoms do a great call-and-response to Sharon Marie’s confident, thunderous lead:

Sharon Marie has BIG HAIR !! The pictures are from her Facebook page. I copied them today, and if she sees this and yells at me, I will certainly understand if I have to remove them… but I did want to share them with you!

And here’s a Brian Wilson compilation disc that features Sharon Marie in the center…