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The Shirelles

In the early 1960s The Shirelles were an American girl rock group that became popular with their songs and singing style. The girls were schoolmates Shirley Owens, Doris Coley, Addie “Micki” Harris, and Beverly Lee. These girls were described as the first African-American girl group to top the Billboard Hot 100 or the first girl group overall with one of their most popular songs “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”. The Shirelles were discovered after a talent show at their high school in 1957. Their very first single was “I Met Him on a Sunday” but didn’t become well known until they recorded “Tonight’s the Night”.

Hits followed one after another until they recorded “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and it hit number one. Their 1961 album Tonight’s the Night included this song and another popular number “Dedicated to the One I Love”. After they became successful they were guests of Murray the K on his “All-Star Rock Shows” on the New York radio station WINS. Other hits by The Shirelles included “Mama Said”, “Baby, It’s You”, “Soldier Boy”, and “Boys”.

In 1963 two of the Shirelles Owens and Coley left the group to get married and were replaced by Dionne Warwick in concerts. That same year they came out with another Top 10 song on the R&B charts “Foolish Little Girl” and had a cameo appearance in the movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, World“. Later on, the Shirelles ran into trouble during the British Invasion and due to heavy competition from other girl groups like The Ronettes. Their last single hit the charts in 1967 “Last Minute Miracle”.

They went on tour at the beginning of the 1970s singing their older songs and were filmed in the documentary “Let the Good Times Roll” in 1973. Then in 1982, Harris died of a heart attack at the Hyatt Regency after The Shirelles had given two performances in Atlanta, Georgia. The following year the remaining three members performed “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” with Dionne Warwick on her album How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye. Later on, they went their separate ways, touring and performing with different groups.

In 1994 The Shirelles were honored by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and in 1996 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They were inducted in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002 and in 2004 Rolling Stone magazine put them on their list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time at number 76 and their songs “Tonight’s the Night” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow made it on the list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Times.


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