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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Six Degrees of The Paris Sisters, Part 1: Well I Been Phil Spectored, Resurrected



 It's the brainbuster game in which you 
 find ways to connect one recording act 
 to another and that one to another and 
 so on until the chain inevitably leads
 in six steps or less, back to the creation
 the big bang, if you will... the point of
 origin from which all great music 
 flowed since the dawn of rock 'n' roll. 

 Yep, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. 

 Dell Rat Ron is
 and he and I are going 
 to play six degrees with 
 The Paris Sisters, the 
 early 60s girl group from 
 San Francisco.  Theirs is 
 a fascinating story so 
 Ron, let's get started! 


 Shady, the Ronettes were 

 not the only previously 
 recorded group which 
 achieved success under 
 legendary producer Phil 
 Spector's tutelage. With 
 Spector's guidance the 
 Paris Sisters fashioned a 
 marketable sound and 
 achieved their first and 
 biggest hit. The sisters, 
 Albeth, Sherrell and the 

 youngest, Priscilla, got 
 their vocal training in 
 the early 50s when 
 three part harmony was 
 a popular sound.  The Paris Sisters started out
 in the traditional style of sister groups like the Andrews 
 Sisters, the McGuire Sisters and the Fontane Sisters as 
 well as the Chordettes of "Mr. Sandman" fame. 

 That old style sound can be heard on the Paris Sisters' 
 earliest recordings.  "Christmas in My Hometown" along 
 with the whimsical ditty "The Man With the Mistletoe 
 Mustache" were released back-to-back on a single at 
 Christmas time 1953. 

"The Man With the Mistletoe Mustache" - Paris Sisters 
(December 1953) 

 The Paris Sisters had a built in stage name.  They also had 
 a built in and quite tenacious stage mom. With the help of 
 falsified birth certificates the girls landed gigs in Las Vegas 
 and were already performing midnight till dawn shows when 
 Priscilla was age nine.  The girls wore heavy makeup, wigs 
 and padded bras to pass for legal age as they performed in 
 the style of WWII era sister acts. 

"I Love You Dear (Year-Round Love)" - Paris Sisters 
(1956, uncharted) 

 That 1956 recording "Year-Round Love" was followed 

 a few months later by another uncharted Decca 45 
 entitled "Daughter, Daughter." 

"Daughter, Daughter!" - Paris Sisters (1956, uncharted) 

 Jump to the 1:40 point of this clip to enjoy the 
Paris Sisters 

 singing and dancing old school style on the popular comedy, 
 music, variety show The Red Skelton Hour. 

"Muskrat Ramble" - Paris Sisters (January 29, 1963 

appearance on The Red Skelton Hour

 Ron, let me 

 pick up 

 the thread 

 from here. 

Red Skelton, a radio and movie star of the 1930s and 40s who, like many of his contemporaries, later made the transition to television, belonged to my parents' generation. In the early 60s many older people were still clinging to big band sounds, Broadway show tunes and Tin Pan Alley standards, the type of music they knew and loved when they were young. Can't blame them for that because every generation does it. However, the pop culture landscape was changing rapidly. The Beatles were mounting an invasion and once they landed on our shores most old school American entertainers were faced with a tough choice: follow or get out of the way.

By the start of the 60s The Paris Sisters realized that the times were changing and their singing style was fading in popularity. Young record buyers craved rock 'n' roll and the teen sound pop ballads that went along with it. Enter the Tycoon of Teen, producer Phil Spector.


Before he became famous as the recording studio production wizard who patented the Wall of Sound, Phil Spector was a member of a trio called The Teddy Bears. Inspired by an inscription on his father's tombstone, Spector wrote the song "To Know Him, is to Love Him" and got it recorded by the group. The Teddy Bears' single became a huge hit, reaching #1 and remaining on the pop chart for nearly half a year! 

Look for Phil Spector on the right in this vintage clip.

"To Know Him, is to Love Him" - Teddy Bears 

(December 1958, highest chart position #1) 

Producing for the Paris Sisters, Phil Spector revamped the act to bring them up the speed with other emerging 60s girl groups. Boy Wonder changed the formation, placing Priscilla out front on lead with the other two sisters behind her singing background.

Priscilla Paris possessed a husky voice and was quite capable of belting out a song, but Spector remembered how Annette Kleinbard, female voice of the Teddy Bears, used a subdued vocal on the wildly popular "To Know Him, is to Love Him." Spector recognized Priscilla's potential to duplicate that success and so he taught her to sing in a tender, intimate, breathy style that was almost a whisper. The idea worked and the rest is history.

 Ron, you've got a couple of

 Picks to Click to introduce. 

 Shady, lead singer Priscilla unleashed her new smoky, 

 sultry vocal style on "Be My Boy," the first Paris Sisters 
 record produced by Phil Spector on the Gregmark label. 
 I don't believe WSBA played it. I had to listen to it on 
 American Bandstand. 

"Be My Boy" - Paris Sisters (May 1961, highest chart 
position #56) 

 The second Paris Sisters record that Spector released 
 was the most successful of their career.  This is the 
 original song. In my book its better than Bobby Vinton's 
 version or any other covers. 

"I Love How You Love Me" - Paris Sisters (December 1961, 
highest chart position #5) 

 Ron, you went and did it.

 You opened Pandora's Box! 

As you proved above, the Paris Sisters' signature song 
"I Love How You Love Me" was only the tip of the iceberg.  
I actually like "Be My Boy" and several of their other songs 
even more and we'll be hearing them in Parts 2 and 3.  

For example, it could be argued that The Paris Sisters 
made their best recordings after their collaboration with
Phil Spector ended and Jack ("The Lonely Surfer") Nitzsche
began exerting his influence on their work.  Listen to the
euphoric girl group sound that the sisters laid down on 
an MGM single in 1964 as the killer bee of "Dream Lover." 

"Lonely Girl" - Paris Sisters (July 1964, 

uncharted B side of "Dream Lover") 

Further evidence of the outstanding recordings produced 

by the Paris Sisters post-Spector is their 1967 album 
The Paris Sisters Sing Everything Under the Sun which 
is regarded as one of the finest girl group collections 
ever assembled. The album includes a few original songs 
written by Priscilla along with some great material from 
others, including this soaring Bacharach/David composition 
originally recorded in 1964 by Jimmy Radcliffe.

"Long After Tonight is All Over" - Paris Sisters 

(1967, uncharted B side of "Some of Your Lovin'") 

 Stay tuned!  In Part 2, The Paris Sisters 

 saga really gets interesting (and spooky). 
 Hustle back here on Thursday when we 
 continue our game of six degrees with 
 these sensational siblings! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. Ooo! I love spooky :)

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post, Tom and look forward to Part 2. It would be frowned upon today, I'm sure, to pass off your nine year old daughter as an eighteen year old! Not the kind of life the average Mother (and Father!) would wish to subject their young daughter to, regardless of how talented she might be.

    Thank you for your wonderful comments on my latest post. It's always such a joy to see you've left your calling card.

  2. Hi, Desiree! Stage mothers are notorious for pushing their kids to grow up too fast. In the process the child misses out on a childhood. I didn't find any evidence that these three girls were unhappy with their situation, however, so I guess it depends on each individual child's goals and their level of maturity. The Paris Sisters were precocious and if you like spooky I hope you will stick around because Parts 2 and 3 of their series are rather creepy and they are followed by three Halloween related posts! Thank you very much, dear friend Desiree, for blessing me with your visit and comments!

  3. Hi Tom...I so enjoyed this posting. I'd forgotten all about the Paris Sisters and must admit it wasn't until the later work I realized exactly who they were!

    I am looking forward to another round of discovery and what would be 'spooky'...

    I'm glad to be back amongst my favorite blogs!

  4. Sush - I am very glad to have you back among us, dear friend. You've been missed and my thoughts have been with you often. I admit that I knew very little about the Paris Sisters before Ron inspired me to put together this three part series with him and I did some research. Their evocative music has been imitated, covered, and used in unique ways. I hope you'll return for Parts 2 and 3 because it does get spooky. Thanks again for making time for me dear Sush, and have a restful night!

  5. I've never heard about the sisters but i really like their music!Muskrat Ramble is so fun!

  6. Hi, Katia! As a child I watched The Red Skelton Show every week with my parents. Perhaps more than any other music variety program, Red Skelton's series exemplified the wholesome family values that children were once encouraged to adopt but which are now almost nonexistent in the vast wasteland of modern entertainment. Thank you very much for coming to call, dear Rapunzel, and have a wonderful day in Italy!

  7. Shady! This did not show up in my Google reader! I just clicked to check, and here it was- so sorry! Phil Spector CERTAINLY has changed- wow! I really did not know much of his earlier self. He truly is talented, but has turned so dark and bizarre. A great lineup of songs from you both!

    On another note, I asked you recently if anyone was still doing doowop and you told me there are those that still sing it. Last night, on a show called The Sing Off (acapella singing) was a group of older men who are doowop singers. They were terrific, and added their own spin to more modern songs like The Lazy Song. They all got such nice comments from the judges and did advance to the next round.

    Have a terrific day, friend Shady!

  8. Hi, Shelly! I must admit that I am relieved to see you here, dear friend. I suspected that something had gone haywire with the Blogger stream. Lately there have been several occasions when it told me I am not following ANY blogs at all! (LOL) I'm glad you enjoyed Part 1 of The Paris Sisters. Yes, it's a shame that some of the biggest contributors to music and entertainment have a dark side that overshadows their many accomplishments. I remember Phil Spector playing a drug dealer in the opening minutes of Easy Rider. I saw The Sing Off in the TV listings but didn't watch it. I wish now that I had because I would have enjoyed that acapella doo-wop group. I am so happy now that you have come by, dear Shelly. You are a very important friend and I really appreciate your visit!

  9. Shady, I read this latest blog yesterday morning. I was extremely impressed! I had hoped to grab your interest in the Paris Sisters with those four songs and the brief bio I sent you, in the hopes that they weren't totally forgotten from yesteryear. I've been searching for the words since yesterday, but all I can think of to say is that I threw you a good pass, and you covered the majority of the field to make a touchdown! Excellent work, and more of a tribute to these beautiful, talented ladies than I ever anticipated, buddy!

  10. Ron - It takes two to tango and your contributions have been abundant. If it wasn't for you I'd still have the notion that the Paris Sisters were merely one-hit-wonders who came and went like so many others. It's amazing the interesting facts that can be uncovered and creative six degrees connections that can result from a little research. Thanks again, good buddy, and I'll see you in Part 2 on Thursday!

  11. never heard of the Paris Sisters before but my goodness they were good. It would be wrong to use my giveaway gift card to buy Paris Sisters tunes for myself right?

  12. Amber Blue Bird - If you keep the gift card for yourself and go on a Paris Sisters shopping spree I promise that it will remain be our little secret. Others have tried to resist the seductive charm of their blended voices and failed. If you likey what you heard so far I invite you to take the full ride and return for Parts 2 and 3. I think you'll find that there are some fascinating links between past and present. Thank you very much for the fly by, dear Amber, and have a wonderful New England evening!

  13. For some unknown reason I was not familiar with The Paris Sisters. Shady, thank you and Ron for introducing them to me! Such pretty and talented girls and it was amazing to hear how they evolved in their music. "Daughter, Daughter" sure told a story ... wonder how mother took it? It was a good memory seeing a clip from one of my favorite old shows, The Red Skelton Hour. Part of our family lore is the story of my first cousin meeting Red Skelton on the streets of Gatlinburg, TN.

    Sad to think of a man who went from The Teddy Bears to being convicted of murder. I like it that you noted Phil Spector got this song idea from an inscription on his dad's tombstone: To Know Him is to Love Him. This is a great old song.

    Lastly, I ended up being quite fond of "Long After Tonight is All Over". More great work from you two ... Shady & Ron, thanks and more thanks!

  14. Cindy - Hello vacation girl! I hope you are all rested and refreshed by this time. When I was a little boy watching Red Skelton's program with my parents I used to mistakenly call him Red Skeleton. I remember my father referring to him as "a good egg" and I would be very surprised to learn that your cousin thought otherwise when he met Red. Red was part of a dying breed of celebrities who dared to be old fashioned, corny, silly, square and family friendly. They simply don't make 'em like that any more. Cindy, I greatly appreciate your visit, dear friend, and I hope you have a wonderful evening wherever you are!

  15. Your new post hasn't shown up on my list at all! I enjoyed this post so much, Tom. I didn't know the name of the group that I loved as a kid! I Love How You Love Me was one of my favorite songs back then. I used to watch Red Skelton every week with my parents too. And my grandmother. I just loved that clip; the dancing and the song.

    Be My Boy was sweetly romantic and the rest were wonderful. I wouldn't mind having a CD of their songs. I'm looking forward to your next blog.

  16. Hi Shady. I was just about to e mail you, because I was getting worried at seeing no recent posts from you. Then I just read Belle's post, and she told us that you had this post up on The Paris Sisters, but it wasn't appearing on all the blog rolls. It certainly wasn't on mine, dear Tom and that is why I haven't been over. Anyway, the main thing is that you are okay! I have to go out in five minutes, so will come back and comment properly on your post later on this evening. Have a good day.

  17. Hi, Belle! Thank you for going on a hunting expedition until you found my latest post. That's an example of true friendship and it is greatly appreciated. I hope Blogger will soon get this latest problem solved. As I am sure you recall, music/comedy/variety hours like the Red Skelton Show were popular and prevalent in the 50s and early 60s and my parents watched them every week. Sullivan, Como, Andy Williams, Dean Martin and many others showcased singers, dancers, comedians and even circus acts like jugglers, acrobats and the guy who spun plates atop poles. Thank you for coming by to reminisce with me, dear friend Belle, and I hope that you'll join me again soon... IF you can find me, that is! (LOL)

  18. Thisisme, Belle is a sweetheart for letting you know about this problem and you are a sweetheart for letting me know that you'll be back later. Your friendship and support mean the world to me! See you later, dear Thisisme!

  19. Hi dear Tom. Here I am at last! I can't believe it, but I have never heard of The Paris Sisters, but I certainly enjoyed listening to them today. I loved the Phil Spector sound back in the 60's. It really was very special. He certainly had his dark side later on. I found it amazing to think that Phil Spector was in the group The Teddy Bears. To Know Him is To Love Him was a bit favourite of mine, but I thought they were an all girl group. Ooops!

  20. Hi, Thisisme! I am very surprised that you don't remember "I Love How You Love Me." I predicted that you'd say you have it on your own jukebox over there. It was popular when so many of your other favorites were on the charts. You are a dear for remembering to stop back and make time for me. I appreciate your visit and comments very much!


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