The Shirelles

"(The Shirelles) definitely made a way for girl groups because, prior to that, it was all guys. they showed that it could work."
-- Mary Wilson (The Supremes)
Mary Jane Greenburg had a mother (Florence Greenburg) who ran a record label and four classmates who had won a talent contest at their New Jersey High School. She introduced "The Poquets" as they were called to her mother who liked what she heard and wanted to sign them to Tiara Records, but she didn't like the name. Shirley Owens, Addie Harris, Dorris Kenner and Beverley Lee had to get a new name and they admired the popular group, The Chantels. They thought "The Chanels" sounded too much like Chantels. Someone suggested "The Shirelles," and it stuck. The girls could never say exactly why they chose the name, but generally agree they weren't named after Shirley Owens (who wasn't singing lead at the time). The song they had won the talent contest with, "I Met Him On a Sunday" was released and to get it more exposure, Florence Greenburg had it distributed by Decca. It had minor success (#49). The next couple of efforts for Decca didn't do much and the group returned to Florence's new label, Scepter. They released "Dedicated to the One I Love" and it faltered. Then they tried, "Tonight's the Night" and it made it to #39. Their producer, Luther Dixon then brought them a song from one of the new writing teams with Alton Publishing (Brill Building), Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Shirley Owens didn't want to do the song at first because she thought King's demo sounded "too country." But Dixon owed Goffin & King a favor and with Dixon's production, using a heavy dose of strings, she was won over and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" was released in December of 1960. It would become one of the top songs of 1961, reaching number one on January 20th, being the first King/Goffin song to do so. It was also the first time in the Elvis Era that an all female group would have the topped rank song. The "Girl Groups" phenomenon was born. The Shirelles would eventually have a total of five top ten hits and would produce another number one song in 1962, "Soldier Boy." They re-issued "Dedicated To The One I Love" in 1961 and it made it to #3. It would do one better in 1967 for The Mamas and The Papas. "Baby It's You" would be included on The Beatles Vee Jay album, "Introducing The Beatles" and be a #5 hit for Smith in 1969. The group fell into a money dispute with Scepter in the mid-sixties and were out of the recording studio for a period. And they suffered the same fate as many U.S. artists when the music industry changed in 1964. So their chart success pretty much ended in 1963. But they are universally recognized as the first, and one of the greatest of the "Girl Groups." They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
title week debuted highest ranking weeks on chart
Tonight's the Night 10/17/1960 39 3
Will You Love Me Tomorrow 12/12/1960 1 15
Dedicated to the One I Love 2/6/1961 3 14
Mama Said 5/1/1961 4 8
Big John 10/23/1961 21 5
Baby It's You 1/6/1962 8 11
Soldier Boy 3/31/1962 1 13
Welcome Home Baby 7/7/1962 22 6
Stop the Music 10/6/1962 36 3
Everybody Loves a Lover 12/15/1962 19 9
Foolish Little Girl 4/20/1963 4 9
Don't Say Goodnight and Mean Goodbye 7/13/1963 26 4