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The Shirelles

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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
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Albums by
The Shirelles

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    14 songs

    On Air

    The Shirelles at Their Very Best

    18 songs

    On Air

    Baby It's You

    12 songs

    On Air

    Tonight's the Night

    19 songs

    On Air

    Marathon - 3656

    12 songs

    On Air

    Baby It's You

    12 songs

    On Air

    Foolish Little Girl

    11 songs

    On Air

    It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World

    7 songs

    On Air

    Big John

    10 songs

    On Air

    Back to Back: The Crystals & The Shirelles

    2 songs

    On Air

    Dedicated to the One

    2 songs

    On Air

    Tonight’s the Night

    28 songs

    On Air

    Tonight's the Night/Baby It's You [Bonus Tracks]

    20 songs

    On Air

    20 Greatest Hits

    32 songs

    On Air

    The Best of the Shirelles [Ace]

    16 songs

    On Air

    The Very Best of the Shirelles

    18 songs

    On Air

    Soldier Boy

    1 song

    On Air

    The Shirelles Medley 1: Will You Love Me Tomorrow / Dedicated to the One I Love / Baby It's You /I Do

    1 song

    On Air

    The Shirelles Medley 2: You Don't Want My Love / A Teardrop and a Lollipop / The Things I Want to Hea

    30 songs

    On Air

    Give a Twist Party (with King Curtis) + Sing to Trumpets and Strings [Bonus Track Version]

    12 songs

    On Air

    It's Mine

    12 songs

    On Air

    Boys

    15 songs

    On Air

    Eveybody Loves & More from the Shirelles

    23 songs

    On Air

    Shirelles Wonderland

    23 songs

    On Air

    Golden Hits

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Top Songs by
The Shirelles

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Will You Love Me Tomorrow
  3.   Baby It's You
  4.   Dedicated to the One I Love
  5.   Mama Said
  6.   Soldier Boy
  7.   Foolish Little Girl
  8.   I Met Him on a Sunday
  9.   Tonight's the Night
  10.   Everybody Loves a Lover
  11.   Mom Said
  12.   Wild and Sweet
  13.   Teasin' Me
  14.   Groovy Guy
  15.   You Will Love Tomorrow
  16.   You Don't Want My Love
  17.   Hung on Yourself
  18.   Leader of the Pack
  19.   Hippie Walk, Pt. 1
  20.   How Can You Mend a Broken Heart
  21.   Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be)
  22.   Go Away and Find Yourself
  23.   Gotta Hold on to This Feeling
  24.   Blue Holiday
  25.   Will To Love Me Tomorro
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
The Shirelles

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    Girl Power: The 35 Greatest Girl Groups

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    66 Pretty Much Perfect Songs

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    Chicano Old School

    On Air

    Oldies

    On Air

    '60s Hits

    On Air

    Amy Winehouse: DNA

    On Air

    Vintage Love Songs

    On Air

    Classic Soul

    On Air

    '60s Deep Dive

    On Air

    Coffee House

    On Air