Gemini Roll Call is back off the road from my own Gemini Roaming DJ and Sojourn to the PNW and is feeling all the weird that I didn’t line up a post to go out to celebrate one of the most unheralded icons of the 1960’s for her 74th Birthday.
That lady is no other than Shirley Owens (Alston-Reeves). Like Gladys Horton of The Marvelettes, she became one of the premiere advocates for the desires, ponderances and assertions for Women of Color during the early 1960s. Like Horton, also a Gemini, she shared that front woman duty primarily with a Leo (Doris Coley) And, like The Marvelettes, The Shirelles struggled for relevancy from 1964 and beyond as both of their record labels shifted focus to other female acts despite the hard work and cash reserves built on their popularity. I can keep on going with the parallels too! Little known fact is that around the same time Dionne Warwick subbed for rotating pregnant Shirelles on stage in 1962 was the same period that Florence Ballard substituted for a pregnant Wanda Young of The Marvelettes in 1962!
Okay, enough with the parallels, and into the Shirelles rather extensive discography. Although the concentration of their top 40 hits only extend from Late 1960 to the Summer of ’63, they remained popular as a touring act and consistently charted singles for nearly a decade, and continued to release material well into the 1970s. One of the songs that came alive with just support from their fanbase was this late ’66 cover of a Playmates 1958 Hit. Already perky and endearing in original form, The Shirelles go swinging for the stars as Shirley is as endearing and charming as ever. I was so so happy to break it out at the most recent Sugar Town Pride Pre-Party, and was totally elated that it was one of the big swing time favorites of the crowd.