They formed in New Jersey in 1957 with schoolmates Shirley Owens, Doris Coley, Micki Harris and Beverly Lee and throughout their career, contrasted schoolgirl innocence and their roles as trailblazing African-American women, they became accepted as one of the originators of their genre.
Signed by Florence Greenberg to Tiara Records, licensed to Decca and then resigned by Greenberg to her new label Scepter records the band managed six Top Ten hits between 1960-1963 including two No.1’s with Will You Love Me Tomorrow and Soldier Boy. A rereleased version of Dedicated To The One I Love originally a hit for The “5” Royales, reached No.3. (Later a massive hit for The Mamas And The Papas). Baby It’s You (also recorded by The Beatles) written by Burt Bacharach, Luther Dixon and Mac David reached No.8 in the US charts. Foolish Little Girl and Mama Said both reached No.4. (Mama Said was covered by Nick Lowe on his 2001 album, The Convincer).
Owens and Coley temporarily left the band to get married replaced by Dionne Warwick in 1963. Coley left again in 1968 but returned in the seventies. They stayed together as a recording group in one form or another into that decade and unlike their contemporaries made eleven studio albums plus compilations between 1961 and 1973.
Lead singer Shirley Owens can only be described as expressing emotion by almost being in tune, this skill adopted by R’n’R singers for decades to come might have originated here.
Micki harris died of a heart attack in 1982. Doris Coley died of breast cancer at the age of 58 in 2000.