Despite their name, "The Delicates"
were one of the first girl groups to adopt a trace of what these
days Americans call "an attitude". There was something
about the sound that these young ladies produced that could only
have come out of a New York studio. It gave their performances
an unmistakable edge which probably influenced another New York
girl group, the "Shangri-Las", a few years later. Despite
this, they are occasionally confused with a lesser known West
Coast girl group of the same name who were around at about the
same time- something that has at least confused your writer in
The girls who were to become the "Delicates"
had been friends since the age of eight and they were still only
14 years old- and already accustomed to singing together at Belleville
High School- when they decided to form the group. They were adopted
by the great edifice of popular songwriting known as the "Brill
Building" and were frequently employed as backing singers
as well as recording in their own right. Their first UK release,
"Black And White Thunderbird" was written by the girls
themselves and has become regarded as a 'must have' by many collectors
of rock and roll, or afficianodos of the girl group sound. Although
this record, on the Unart label, managed the US top 100, it certainly
never got a placing in any version of the UK singles chart. Consequently,
the original disc is very hard to find although the number has
benefited from re-issues from time to time- including a 1999
release on a Rhino Records (4 X CD) boxed set: "Hot Rods
and Custom Classics".
At the time of the Thunderbird's original
release, the girls were also appearing regularly on the "Swingin'
Soiree" shows of the, now near legendary, DJ- "Murray
the K" featured on 1010 WINS, New York. In fact the Delicates
had written his opening and closing themes:and also his "Submarine
Race Watcher's Theme". Murray also gave rise to their mysteriously
entitled second release on Unart, "Meusurray". For
the benefit of those of us not familiar with WINS, I should explain
that this was another theme put together for Murray which concerned
a language he'd invented where the first letter of every word
was immediately followed by "eus". Hence, the lyric
goes: "put 'eus' after every first letter- come on cats
let's put 'em together"..and so on.
During this early phase in their performing
careers, Arleen decided to quit although Denise and Peggy went
on to sign with Roulette Records where they sang as a duet continuing
to call themselves the Delicates. After this, they teamed up
with Bernadette Carroll for work on commercials and as a vocal
backing group for other artists. The girls were highly regarded
in this role and there was a great deal of demand for their services-
they were employed on the discs of many famous artists. These
included Patty Duke, Al Martino, Don Costa, Neil Sedaka, as well
as fellow Belleville artists Frankie Valli and Connie Francis.
Their most significant contribution was probably in helping to
compose the arrangements and backing for Lou Christie's "Lightning
Strikes"- a single which reached #1 in the USA and stalled
just outside the UK top 10 early in 1966. Bernadette also produced
several singles as a soloist- the best known of which is "Party
Girl"- her only single to enjoy a release in the UK.
Although the Delicates had only a short
lifetime their members became involved in other musical alliances
including the 'Angels'.
Thanks are due to Dee Ferri for her much appreciated help
in the preparation of the above notes- Webmaster.