High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ron Rocks, Rolls and Remembers

Our good friend Dell Rat Ron

(Ron Shearer) has responded

to my recent post in which I 

staged a Battle of the "Boys."  

It was a spin off competition in which readers voted for the version of the song "Boys," they liked most. They chose from the Shirelles original, a cover version by the Beatles, and a rendition waxed by one time Beatles drummer Pete Best. My "Boys" article triggered Ron's memories of the Shirelles and other artists so I invited him to be my guest blogger today and share his stories with all of us.

With that, I'll step aside and say
"Ron, be my guest!" 

I keep thinking of the Shirelles a lot lately since a commercial has been playing on the TV using "Mama Said". As near as
I can tell, it really is the Shirelles' recording.

Ron, if I may interrupt you,
I would like you and everybody else to take a couple of minutes and watch the following video entitled Recreating the Shirelles.
It's a modern film short
that does a brilliant job of simulating a vintage Shirelles performance.

That song ("Mama Said"), "Dedicated to the One I Love", "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", "Tonight's the Night" and, to a lesser extent, "Boys" epitomizes the ultimate in R&B girl groups to me. Mostly, I never heard "Boys" until the girls at D-Town (Dallastown High School) played it all the time on the jukebox and danced to it on
a daily basis for a long, long time. But the other songs, just make me melt and miss the days when we used to wrap our arms around a beautiful girl with her head on our shoulder to dance slow...

or at least hold hands to fast dance with her.
The cha-cha-cha and the stroll were the only ones where we didn't have that physical contact with them. The Chantels with Arlene Smith, "Maybe", "He's Gone", "The Plea" and the Marvelettes earliest songs were up there also.

I remember seeing the Shirelles live back in Reno, Nevada at one of the first Hot August Nights which was held at what was left of a drive-in theater.
It was the last time they booked over a dozen acts and the police had to stop it at midnight because they had gone past curfew, and there was a neighborhood nearby.

The Shirelles went on, as they had for many years, minus one girl who had died of cancer. They never replaced her, and always explained to the audience that she was always there with them in spirit. The Shirelles went through a lot of changes over the last decades, with Doris leaving the group at one time and later returning, Shirley going solo, and both Beverly and Doris each forming separate groups with new girls, each group billing themselves as the Shirelles. As near as I can tell, Shirley Alston and Beverly Lee are still alive. Why they didn't appear with Doris the last time I saw her on PBS's tribute to doo-wop is a puzzle. A while later, I heard a DJ on the local oldies station announce that Doris passed away. What a representation of an era.

Just a note of trivia: On a TV interview at her home, Doris explain how the British invasion, which paid tribute and popularized American rhythm and blues, was also the downfall of it. When the Shirelles released "Sha La La", England's Manfred Mann covered it and garnered much more airplay.

I can't say whether I really like one version of
"Sha La La" over the other, but I was saddened
that the girls' career was going downhill due to
the popularity of their music.

While I like all the versions of "Boys", the Shirelles are my first love, and I just identify it more since
I knew it so long as a a girl group song, by one of the greatest girl groups of all time.

That Hot August Nights show also had Johnny Rivers, Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave), Brook Benton (the last year he was alive), the Chantels (with Arlene Smith), Little Anthony (no Imperials), the Drifters. I can't remember who else.

Seeing the original Chantels do "Maybe"...

and Brook Benton's "Rainy Night in Georgia" were memorable.

Johnny Rivers tore it up and did perhaps the longest set, from "Secret Agent Man"...

to "Rockin' Pneumonia" (with great piano work, but still only second to Huey "Piano" Smith.

I always wished I could play boogie woogie on
the piano. I don't remember if Paul Revere & the Raiders were there. They played the cabarets in Reno frequently, and Paul had a club there for awhile (he lived just north of there in Idaho).

Thanks for allowing me to share those memories and music history with you.

Ron, thank you very much for dropping by as a guest blogger
and sharing your stories with us! My Picks to Click for this post
are "Sha La La" by the Shirelles, the live performance of "Maybe"
by Arlene and the Chantels, and Brook Benton's live version of "Rainy Night in Georgia." You know what they say: "If there's a
rock and roll heaven....." I went ahead and added your vote for
the Shirelles to the Battle of the "Boys" balloting. Let's have a look at the tote board and check the final score:

Beatles: 5

Shirelles: 4

Pete Best: 1

Showering Shady: 1 write-in vote

I'd like to tag Ron's post with my Pick to Click by Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns, "Don't You Just Know It."

I'd also like to propose another


Listen to these two killer recordings of
"Look in My Eyes" and tell me which you
like better...the version by the Chantels:

or this one by the Three Degrees from their early years on the Swan label:

Fine print: Any votes cast for Shady singing in the shower will be declared null and void.

Thanks again to original Dell Rat Ron Shearer for accepting my invitation to



Have a Shady day!


  1. First of all I pick the second version of the last two. Just sounded better to me. I am constantly amazed at how your blogs just get better and better. Ron did an amazing job and now I know so much more about one of the best groups that ever sung R & B. You had so many great hits to enjoy on this blog. It was like getting a bonus. Thanks my friend.

  2. Odie - Thank you very much for the compliments, my good friend! I'm glad you found so much to like in this one. I am also thrilled to see how many of our 20-something friends around the world are embracing music that was popular when you and I were kids. Can there be any doubt that music brings people together and makes for a better world? Thanks again for your comment, Odie, and have a swell day up your way!


    Chantels: 0
    Three Degrees: 1

  4. Great selection of songs again. I really enjoyed "Don't You Just Know It" as I haven't heard that oldie in a very long time. I have a huge library of 50 - 60 oldies, but not that song. I think I must vote for the Chantels, sorry Shady.


  5. Jerre - You must not have read the fine print. If you had voted for Shady singing in the shower you would have thrown your vote away because it would not have counted. Your vote for the Chantels has been placed into the ballot box and we now have a tie, a dead heat, a neck and neck race between these two outstanding girl groups. Who will cast the swing vote? I can't wait to find out! Thanks for your comment, Dell Rat Jerre!

    Chantels: 1
    Three Degrees: 1

  6. I liked the Chantels the best. It was interesting to see Manfred Mann again. I do remember his version. Great post, I always liked Secret Agent Man!

  7. Belle - You're the tie breaker! Your vote has enabled the Chantels to come from behind and take over the lead. Thank you very much for dropping by and have a fine evening in B.C., dear friend Belle!

    Chantels 2
    Three Degrees: 1

  8. Odie - Thank you for the kudos on the blog, but all I did was share reminiscences with Shady. He's the one that put it all together in such a great way. I mistakenly said that the one of the Shirelles died of cancer, when it was really a heart attack.

    Belle - Thanks for voting for the Chantels. Arlene Smith, who was no longer with them when they re-formed and recorded "Look in My Eyes" was one of Janis Joplin's main inspirations. Shady told me that I turned him on to rhythm & blues back in high school with an Otis Redding album. He said that up until then, he had been mostly "vanilla" with musical tastes. He has gone on to educate me all these years later on several r&b singers I didn't follow so much, as well as "vanilla" I ignored during teen years.

    Jerre - If I didn't know you from the Dell, I should have.

    Shady - My heart leapt with your choices of music, and the live Chantels & Brook Benton videos. The video of the impersonators said so much by showing what blacks, musicians and non-musicians, went through in the days before many of our co-bloggers were born.

  9. Ron - I'm glad you liked the videos that I selected to go along with your anecdotes. Thank you again for sharing your memories with your new friends around the world. Anytime that you have reminiscences to my guest! Have a great day in Oklahoma, my good buddy!

  10. Ron my friend I know that Shady has a way of turning a sows ear into a silk purse but I was impressed that you had the closeness you had with the group. Even in Shady's supurb style I could sense your personal feeling and that made it special for me. Thanks again and come back some time.

  11. Ron - I really enjoyed reading and hearing from the Chantels and the Shirells. "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," was always a favorite. It was great learning the history of these groups! Thanks for the post!

  12. Hi Ron. That was an excellent guest post. I always l loved The Shirelles. I hadn't firstboyfriend when Will You Still Live Me Tomorrow came out, and it was oUR song, which was very romantic at the time! Shady, my vote goes to The Chantelles.

  13. Thisisme - Imagine a middle aged couple 20 years from now. A gangsta rap rant comes on the radio and they coo, "Listen darling... they're playing our song!" Thank you for reporting in, dear friend Thisisme. Your vote for the Chantels has been recorded!

    Chantels: 3
    Three Degrees: 1

  14. Hi Ron, Yes it would be great to have a friend I knew then to share the old Dell memories and music. My main years at the Dell were 61 - 66 with the most time during the summers of 63, 64 and 65. I was also a fan of the Oaks and Zimmies. Have a great day.

    You to Shady. Jerre

  15. I give my vote to the Chantels as well. Gosh I remember owning Manfred Man's Blinded by the Light 45.

  16. Copyboy - I also owned "Blinded by the Light." As for Manfred Mann's 1960s output, the band was best known for their number one smash hit "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" which was also a cover of an original by an American R&B vocal group, in this case The Exciters. They had a top 30 record in the USA with "Pretty Flamingo." My two MM favorites are "Sha La La" and "Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)" which went top 10 stateside in 1968. Thanks for voting Copyboy!

    Chantels: 4
    Three Degrees: 1

  17. where did my comment go?!? I was just stopping by to say hey and hope you have a great weekend and now I dont see my vote....weirdness. Well I voted for the Chantels...i hope my vote still counts!

  18. Ron, you did a great job as a guest blogger! I sure wish I had been a part of your "rat pack", I like the way you and Shady are remembering these times and keeping them alive. I look back and remember how our dances at the Dragon's Den (rec hall) were so important to me. I was the reporter for our high school group called The Top Hats. For four years I made all the posters and put them up all over our little town and also had the announcements about the dances in our local paper. I digress ...

    A vote for the Chantels. Paul Revere and the Raiders sure brought back memories, I saw them in the 60s in Knoxville, TN.

    Thanks for the memories ♥

  19. Amber Blue Bird - ??? Well, I don't know what happened to your earlier comment because I never saw it. I'm glad you checked back and reposted. I will add your vote for the Chantels. The race is turning into a landslide! Thank you very much for reading and commenting on Ron's guest post and congrats on a superb post of your own today saluting one of the all time greats, Miss Patsy Cline! Take care, dear friend Amber!

    Cindy - Thank you for sharing your memories with us! I hope you will continue to do so. I wish I would have seen the Raiders in concert because they were great showmen as well as talented and prolific rockers. Your vote for the Chantels has been counted. Thanks again for coming by, my new friend!

    Chantels: 6
    Three Degrees: 1


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