Inspired by the July 20 birthdays of Carlos Santana, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, Kim Carnes, The Exciters’ Brenda Reid, Buddy Knox, JoBoxers’ Dig Wayne and The Dandy Warhols’ Courtney Taylor-Taylor; and the July 19 birthdays of Queen’s Brian May, Eagles’ Bernie Leadon, and Commander Cody.
Tag Archives: The Exciters
Inspired by Black Music Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, and the June 20 birthdays of The Beach Boys‘ Brian Wilson, The Coasters’ Billy Guy, Lionel Richie, The Miracles’ Claudette Rogers, Chairlift’s Caroline Polacheck, Jerry Keller, The Rivingtons’ Carl White, The Deftones’ Chino Moreno, and Chris Gibson.
The girl group sound was a genre of pop music that flourished on the charts between 1958 and 1966. Most records that fall into this category were made by all-female trios or quartets. However, some girl group hits were performed by solo women, and some by groups that featured a cisgender male. Per girl-groups.com, more than 750 girl groups cracked the US or UK charts between 1960 and 1966.
Tunes du Jour commemorates International Women’s Day with a playlist of forty of the best examples of the girl group sound.
The girl group sound was hugely popular on the US pop charts in the early 1960s. The Shirelles, The Crystals, The Chiffons, The Angels, Martha and the Vandellas, The Marvelettes, The Exciters, The Orlons, The Cookies, The Murmaids, The Dixie Cups, The Supremes, The Toys, The Shangri-Las, The Jaynetts and others filled the radio with tales of teenage romance, heartbreak and occasionally social commentary. Solo acts such as Lesley Gore and Darlene Love also exemplified the girl group sound.
Described in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry as “the quintessence of the ‘girl group’ aesthetic of the early 1960s,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” reached #2 in 1963. The record was produced by Phil Spector, who produced at least 15 top forty girl group songs between 1962 and 1964.
Lead vocals on “Be My Baby” were performed by Ronnie Spector. In fact, the other Ronettes aren’t even on the record. Backup singers included the girlfriend of Phil Spector’s promotion man. That man was Sonny Bono; his girlfriend was Cher. Sonny & Cher would have their first hit as a duo two years later.
This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights the hits of 1963. Here are twenty of that year’s best, kicking off with the record New Music Express named the second best song of the 1960s (their #1 was The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life”), the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.”
Ronnie Spector turns 71 years old today. Along with her sister Estelle and cousin Nedra, Ronnie, then Veronica “Ronnie” Bennett, formed The Ronettes, one of the classic girl groups of the sixties.
The trio was signed to Colpix Records, but none of their singles performed well. Then they met Phil Spector, who signed them to his label, Philles.
The first track Spector recorded with the trio was “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall in Love?,” which, though the girls liked it, Spector held from release.
With Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector wrote “Be My Baby,” with the intention of having Ronnie Bennett, the woman he wanted to be his baby, record it.
The resulting record had a classic Spector wall of sound production and Phil recorded more than 40 takes. It took Ronnie three days to get the lead vocal down.
The other Ronettes don’t sing on “Be My Baby.” Background vocals were provided by Darlene Love, Nino Tempo, Sonny Bono, who did promotion for Phil Spector, and Bono’s girlfriend, Cher.
In 1963, The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” rose to #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Since that time it has made many lists of the greatest recordings. Among its biggest fans is Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, who named it is favorite single of all-time, saying “This is a special one for me. What a great sound, the Wall of Sound. Boy, first heard this on the car radio and I had to pull off the road, I couldn’t believe it. The choruses blew me away; the strings are the melody of love. It has the promise to make the world better.”
Ronnie Bennett married Phil Spector in 1968. They divorced in 1974.
Today’s playlist consists of twenty tracks embodying the classic girl groups sound, with an emphasis on The Ronettes.