of the Tams aka the Hippies, the Philadelphia vocal group that gave us the evocative doo-wop hit "Memory Lane." Chi Chi went on to become an exciting and versatile
solo artist. I am very proud to bring you Chi Chi's story and her music.
S.D. KNIGHT: Hello again, Chi Chi. Before we pick up the
timeline of your career, could you tell us which artists or
recordings influenced you most?
the Teenagers influenced my
singing. I tried to imitate his
style while growing up. I met
him finally in a show at the
State Theatre put on by
Jerry Blavat. Frankie told
me he really liked our song
"Memory Lane." I told him
how much he influenced
S.D. KNIGHT: Did you perform in any major rock 'n' roll shows or tours either with your vocal group or later on as a soloist?
CHI CHI: From what I can recall as a group, we didn't do
much in the way of shows, appearances, etc. As I said
in the previous segment, our record was taken off the
radio when the Payola scandal broke and we never got
the chance. Any and all shows, appearances, etc. were
done by me later and the studio placed two guys with me.
I worked with Jerry Blavat,
Hy Lit, Cousin Brucie in
New York on the Hudson
River, a show in Buffalo...
...I also worked with
Murray the K and did
The Grady and Hurst
Show down at the
New Jersey shore...
S.D. KNIGHT: Let me stop you there, Chi Chi, and give the readers some background on Philadelphia broadcast pioneers Joe Grady and Ed Hurst. The pair hosted a popular radio show called The 950 Club on WPEN. The show, which ran from the mid 40s to the mid 50s, was the first to feature teenagers dancing to records live on the air.
As such, The 950 Club was the predecessor of Bandstand.
In 1958, Ed Hurst began hosting Summertime on the Pier, later called The Steel Pier Show, a long running TV dance show that originated from Atlantic City's famous Steel Pier.
S.D. KNIGHT: Alright, Chi Chi, let's continue our stroll down memory lane. You met and shared a stage with some of the biggest recording stars of the 60s. Can you name a few?
CHI CHI: I can't recall which show it was, but I remember
at the airport, over the loudspeaker, came the voice re-
questing that The Animals, The Lovin' Spoonful, Chi Chi
and I can't recall who else, please come to such and such
place to be taken by limousine to a hotel. I got a kick out
of that! We obviously were performing, but I don't think
we were performing at the same place at the same time.
I have done shows with the Chiffons, Dee Dee Sharp,
the Orlons, Freda Payne, Jimmy Soul, the Dovells, the
Duprees, the latest Platters group, Darlene Love, the
Soul Survivors (two of them), Kenny Vance & the
Planatones, The Angels...
S.D. KNIGHT: You have a funny story about the Angels.
CHI CHI: Yes! We shared a dressing room and they were
so sweet and friendly. We hit it off right away.
Anyway, they said, "Chi Chi, wanna
hear our new song coming out?"
and I said, "Sure." Well, they start
singing, "My Boyfriend's Back."
I'm thinking, "It's really cute, but
I don't think it will make it!!!!"
Hahaha, don't ever ask me what
I think will be a hit. I obviously
don't have a clue!!!
S.D. KNIGHT: I hear ya! There's a new band from Liverpool -
four mop tops - John, Paul, George and Whatshisname.
I predict they'll fizzle. :) Okay, Chi Chi... it's time for
us to reveal more of your fine recordings.
In Part 1 we listened to the first of Chi Chi's solo sides
for Red Bird Records, the sophisticated, refreshingly
different girl group sound "I Know He Loves Me" as by
Chi-Chi McCauley. That Red Bird single turned out to
be a dynamite double-sider with outstanding recordings
back-to-back. The B side is a feel good song that's as
fresh today as it was 50 years ago!
"Memory Lane Without You" is another song penned by
Howard Boggess. "Boggie," as you recall, was Chi Chi's
long time friend and a member of her group. He shares
composing credit with another member, Jack Felker, for
the original "Memory Lane." "Memory Lane Without You"
picks up where "Memory Lane" left off. Its catchy melody
and brisk up-tempo arrangement breathe new life into the
wistful ballad about faded teenage romance. I know you
will enjoy this delightful piece of ear candy, an evergreen
that recalls the carefree endless summers of our youth.
In 1966, solo singer Carole Devine signed with Kapp Records,
shortened her stage name to Chi Chi, and ascended to what
many consider to be the pinnacle of her career.
Chi Chi's Kapp recordings are exquisite vocal performances.
The productions are prime examples of the grand, majestic,
reverberant Wall-of-Soundalikes I've been bringing you this
year in my series Echoes of the Spectorian Era.
In the booklet that accompanies the girl group compilation
Chapel of Love, Nick Patrick and Malcolm Baumgart wrote
the following about Chi Chi: "The young singer, now minus
her surname, reemerged in 1966 with a brace of highly
sophisticated slabs of uptown pop in a sumptuous
Randazzo meets Bacharach style.”
“If You’re Gonna Love Me,” the first of Chi Chi's Kapp
singles, has producing credits that include Hy Mizrahi,
one of the founders of Kama Sutra Productions, and
Chi Chi's friend and singing partner "Boggie" Boggess.
Listen to Chi Chi's bold, powerful voice enveloped in
a Wall of Sound on a magnificent opus that reminds
me of a Jack Nitzsche arrangement.
Chi Chi's follow-up single for Kapp is yet another doublesider.
First, here's the B side, "Somewhere There's Someone,"
a buttery smooth bossa nova recording that rivals those
of Astrud Gilberto and Eydie Gormé.
S.D. KNIGHT: Chi Chi, our interview is nearly at an end and
I have a question for you. Of all the recordings you made in your singing career, which is your favorite and why?
CHI CHI: "Just Let It Happen" on Kapp records was and
is my favorite because I had never seen such a production!
It was done in Columbia Studios in New York. There were
so many musicians there I thought that Frank Sinatra was
coming to record and that they were not all there for me!
S.D. KNIGHT: I'm with you, Chi Chi. I genuinely love all of these featured recordings made by you and your group...
but your favorite, "Just Let It Happen," is also my favorite and now it's time to play it. The readers might recall that
I posted a version of this Chip Taylor - Trade Martin song performed by the Arbors in Volume 1 of Echoes.
Chi Chi's version of the song, the A side of her second Kapp
single produced by Kama Sutra's Hy Mizrahi, casts a magic
spell over me whenever I hear it. Chi Chi beckons us near
with her soft, smooth, seductive voice. Suddenly its full
power and passion are unleashed and we soar with her to
the heavens - an incomparable listening experience. Here
now is her masterpiece, arguably the greatest recording
of Chi Chi's career - "Just Let It Happen."
S.D. KNIGHT: Chi Chi, your voice absolutely mesmerizes me. I don't know of many vocalists who could perform so many different types of songs so convincingly, with flair, credibility and authority the way you do.
CHI CHI: Thanks. I just sing what I feel. Some songs make
you cry, feel pain, loss internally. My voice projects that.
S.D. KNIGHT: A lifelong resident of the Delaware Valley,
you are still performing live shows in the area, aren't you?
CHI CHI: Yes, I do some shows
when asked, usually the oldies type
(Jerry Blavat at the Kimmel Center
in Center City, Pa.) and I sing at a
a local club called Casa Cafe in
Warrington, Pa. once a month.
S.D. KNIGHT: More good news. In addition to your current live appearances, you've been back in the studio working on a new set of recordings, correct?
CHI CHI: Yes! People are always asking me if I have a CD
so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm collaborating with some
gentlemen with whom I've worked in the recent past
and we are planning to put out a CD of our group hit
"Memory Lane" and other songs. Recently I went to
the studio and recorded "Memory Lane" and "At Last."
I am very excited!
S.D. KNIGHT: Chi Chi, before I let you go, let me ask you this. You have had a distinguished career as a singer and recording artist. What has is meant to you and how would you like to be remembered?
CHI CHI: I never dreamed this would be so much a part
of my life. I have been blessed beyond belief! I still get
"chills" and so very touched that people remember our
song "Memory Lane" and applaud whenever and wher-
ever I sing today. I still have to pinch myself to believe it!
The people make me want to do this until they tire of me.
I've gotten so much more from this than I ever thought
possible. I could die tomorrow and say, "Wow, they liked
our song and it brought back happy memories for them."
I would like them to remember me and our group as being
totally grateful to them and their kindness.
Thank you very much, dear Chi Chi, for the opportunity to get to know you, learn about your life and music and for the honor of having you as a friend. You are a wonderful singer and one of the few to make classic recordings in three different music categories: doo-wop, girl group
and Spectorian Wall-Of-Sound.