The group that became known as ‘Les Girls’ by collectors but one that unkown to most of us where arguably the best female harmony group of the sixties from one perspective …their sound. From left to right….Jean Thomas, Ellie Greenwich, Mikie Harris. This photo courtesy of George Schowerer from we are told late 1967 but we can’t place the session in Jean Thomas’s session logues.
So what did Bob say about those times….this article by Kingsley Abbott appeared in Record Collector in 1998 and is reproduced here with his permission.
Bob Crewe is best known as the producer and co-writer, with Bob Gaudio, of the best of the Four Seasons' records, and for his later work with Mitch Ryder. But he was very alert to other musical trends around him in the 60s, so it was only natural that he should dabble in the girl group sound. In fact, though he now downplays his role in the genre, he came up with some corkers which should not be overlooked.
RECORD COLLECTOR(RC): How did you get involved with girl group records?
BOB CREWE(BC): I was very fortunate, as that whole period was very good for me. No one twisted my arm; but sometimes you'd get an idea for a production or a song that maybe had a female attitude to it. I'd often hear it as a finished entity from the outset, so I'd know exactly where I was heading. Maybe that is a prerequisite for popular records, as opposed to more serious music. But I'm not sure why you're asking me about girl groups - it was Ellie Greenwich who reigned supreme. She was the creme de la creme! .
RC: You had a lot of strong issues, though: Tracey Dey, Diane Renay, the Beach Girls, the Calendar Girls and the Rag Dolls. .
BC: Well, yes, I suppose. . . Diane Renay had one major hit ("Kiss Me Sailor") and then we did lots of kinda naive follow-ups. Some of them crossed over to the Four Seasons' sound ("Please Forget Me", "Growing Up Too Fast"), and one of them was a Phil Spector sound. That was "Unbelievable Guy". . I really enjoyed working with Tracey Dey, because she was very talented and a great singer. We cut some good sides with her. . .
I can't really understand why we didn't have a big hit. I
thought that she'd go a long way.(Tracey Dey's " Won't Tell" is generally thought
to be one of
RC: Did you have much contact with other people working within the girl group sound? .
BC: Oh yes, with Ellie Greenwich. As I said, '.she was the Empress, the absolute Empress of the whole girl scene. We wrote a few things together. She was on every one of my records that were put out! She was even in among the guys on guy records. We had a regular group of about eight or nine girls who we'd use for sessions: one lot had a sweet sound (Ed. and featured Jean Thomas), one other lot would have a grittier sound. We mostly used three of the girls….(ed. Jean Thomas, Mikie Harris and Ellie). Ellie would always be there coaching :them, and she'd give the body and the root to the sound. She was always there.
“Bobs's right that Ellie was the queen of the girl's group sound. Mikie and I were the lucky ones to be working with her on so many of those wonderful records. Ellie and I met at Associated Recording during a demo session and realized it would be a lot easier to work together on all the backgound work we were doing instead of trying to do all the background voices by ourselves. We started to work as a duo on a lot of these demos and I called Mikie to come to NY and join us, which she did. We felt it was a good sound together. Bob used us and, as he said, a few others, depending on the sound he needed. Many times Ellie worked with other singers, as did I, but we did so much work together. “
BC:I love the Phil Spector records, I especially love "River Deep, Mountain High". In fact, when that record was such a big hit in
RC: When the pure innocent girlie pop stopped, people moved into a more soul-based sound. Were you involved with that?
BC: Well, I'll tell you. .. Berry Gordy used an idea of mine for the Supremes. It was my idea for the footstomps for "Where Did Our Love Go~. I think he was real pleased with that! . ,.
I cut some others with Dee Dee Sharp and some more. Charlie
Calello, who arranged all the early Four Seasons things and I guess some of the
girl ones that I don't remember, had always done a lot for my production
company. Some of the things were just him. I've kinda lost contact with him at
the moment. I think that he's in
BOB CREWE by Kingsley Abbott for Record Collector Aug 1998…edited by Ken Charmer