One of the fiercest blue eyed soul singers would be of course a Lady Leo. The pint sized powerhouse born Rosemary Timothea Yuro 75 years ago today blurred many an expectation of what it meant to be a female pop singer in the early 1960’s. Often mistaken as Black or a Man or both before she was seen in public appearances, her extremely emotive Contralto voice launched a bevy of interesting efforts throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s with varying degrees of success.
Given she was heavily influenced by seeing Dinah Washington during her childhood days in Chicago, it should come as no surprise that she ended up at one of Dinah’s labels during the course of her career. Meant to push her in a more MOR direction, the LP that came out of the gate during the 2nd half of 1964 did little to reignite her chart fortunes.
So a variety of producers were called into help out during 1965. First up was Jack Nitzsche who produced her Wall-Of-Sound themed version of “You Can Have Him” (which competed with Dionne Warwick’s version). Next up, Teddy Randazzo was given a shot. Fresh off his hit productions for Little Anthony & The Imperials and The Royalettes, his brand of symphonic New York Soul seemed the perfect match for Timi’s histrionic abilities.
For whatever reason this epic “Fuck Off” record that builds to a spell casting finish came and went without much notice despite Timi performing it on both Shimvaree (the clip in the header link) and Hollywood-A-Go-Go that fall. In fact, she’d spend the next 11 years barely scraping into the Bubbling Under section of Billboard. Shameful, considering the boundaries she crossed, making popular music far more daring during the swinging sixties.
Happy Birthday Lady.