Our good friend Dell Rat Ron
(Ron Shearer) has responded
to my recent post in which I
staged a Battle of the "Boys."
It was a spin off competition in which readers voted for the version of the song "Boys," they liked most. They chose from the Shirelles original, a cover version by the Beatles, and a rendition waxed by one time Beatles drummer Pete Best. My "Boys" article triggered Ron's memories of the Shirelles and other artists so I invited him to be my guest blogger today and share his stories with all of us.
With that, I'll step aside and say
"Ron, be my guest!"
I keep thinking of the Shirelles a lot lately since a commercial has been playing on the TV using "Mama Said". As near as
I can tell, it really is the Shirelles' recording.
Ron, if I may interrupt you,
I would like you and everybody else to take a couple of minutes and watch the following video entitled Recreating the Shirelles.
It's a modern film short
that does a brilliant job of simulating a vintage Shirelles performance.
That song ("Mama Said"), "Dedicated to the One I Love", "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", "Tonight's the Night" and, to a lesser extent, "Boys" epitomizes the ultimate in R&B girl groups to me. Mostly, I never heard "Boys" until the girls at D-Town (Dallastown High School) played it all the time on the jukebox and danced to it on
a daily basis for a long, long time. But the other songs, just make me melt and miss the days when we used to wrap our arms around a beautiful girl with her head on our shoulder to dance slow...
or at least hold hands to fast dance with her.
The cha-cha-cha and the stroll were the only ones where we didn't have that physical contact with them. The Chantels with Arlene Smith, "Maybe", "He's Gone", "The Plea" and the Marvelettes earliest songs were up there also.
I remember seeing the Shirelles live back in Reno, Nevada at one of the first Hot August Nights which was held at what was left of a drive-in theater.
It was the last time they booked over a dozen acts and the police had to stop it at midnight because they had gone past curfew, and there was a neighborhood nearby.
The Shirelles went on, as they had for many years, minus one girl who had died of cancer. They never replaced her, and always explained to the audience that she was always there with them in spirit. The Shirelles went through a lot of changes over the last decades, with Doris leaving the group at one time and later returning, Shirley going solo, and both Beverly and Doris each forming separate groups with new girls, each group billing themselves as the Shirelles. As near as I can tell, Shirley Alston and Beverly Lee are still alive. Why they didn't appear with Doris the last time I saw her on PBS's tribute to doo-wop is a puzzle. A while later, I heard a DJ on the local oldies station announce that Doris passed away. What a representation of an era.
Just a note of trivia: On a TV interview at her home, Doris explain how the British invasion, which paid tribute and popularized American rhythm and blues, was also the downfall of it. When the Shirelles released "Sha La La", England's Manfred Mann covered it and garnered much more airplay.
I can't say whether I really like one version of
"Sha La La" over the other, but I was saddened
that the girls' career was going downhill due to
the popularity of their music.
While I like all the versions of "Boys", the Shirelles are my first love, and I just identify it more since
I knew it so long as a a girl group song, by one of the greatest girl groups of all time.
That Hot August Nights show also had Johnny Rivers, Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave), Brook Benton (the last year he was alive), the Chantels (with Arlene Smith), Little Anthony (no Imperials), the Drifters. I can't remember who else.
Seeing the original Chantels do "Maybe"...
and Brook Benton's "Rainy Night in Georgia" were memorable.
Johnny Rivers tore it up and did perhaps the longest set, from "Secret Agent Man"...
to "Rockin' Pneumonia" (with great piano work, but still only second to Huey "Piano" Smith.
I always wished I could play boogie woogie on
the piano. I don't remember if Paul Revere & the Raiders were there. They played the cabarets in Reno frequently, and Paul had a club there for awhile (he lived just north of there in Idaho).
Thanks for allowing me to share those memories and music history with you.
Ron, thank you very much for dropping by as a guest blogger
and sharing your stories with us! My Picks to Click for this post
are "Sha La La" by the Shirelles, the live performance of "Maybe"
by Arlene and the Chantels, and Brook Benton's live version of "Rainy Night in Georgia." You know what they say: "If there's a
rock and roll heaven....." I went ahead and added your vote for
the Shirelles to the Battle of the "Boys" balloting. Let's have a look at the tote board and check the final score:
Pete Best: 1
Showering Shady: 1 write-in vote
I'd like to tag Ron's post with my Pick to Click by Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns, "Don't You Just Know It."
I'd also like to propose another
BATTLE OF THE BANDS!
Listen to these two killer recordings of
"Look in My Eyes" and tell me which you
like better...the version by the Chantels:
or this one by the Three Degrees from their early years on the Swan label:
Fine print: Any votes cast for Shady singing in the shower will be declared null and void.
Thanks again to original Dell Rat Ron Shearer for accepting my invitation to
Have a Shady day!