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Vocal Harmony Pop Groups and Duos
The New Seekers sound was influenced by vocal harmony styles stretching back to The Fleetwoods and The Everly Brothers. Founded by Keith Potger of the Seekers, the group was most obviously influenced by the folk pop of the original Seekers, but the New Seekers soon became more than just a replica of their namesakes. They also drew inspiration from the California sound of The Beach Boys and from the "sunshine pop" of The Mamas and The Papas. The psychedelia / flower power era also had its influence on the New Seekers' sound. Roy Wood's group The Move was particularly influential as were the more melodic beat groups from earlier in the '60s such as Herman's Hermits, The Hollies and The Searchers.
recorded The Beatles' Ticket To Ride
as a ballad.
After it became a
minor hit single
in the USA,
their début album Offering
was retitled Ticket To Ride.
The New Seekers'
also recorded Ticket To Ride,
presenting the song
in a medley with
the old Seekers' hit Georgy Girl.
Dollar Mirror Mirror
The Carpenters (Richard and Karen) were a brother and sister duo from New Haven, Connecticut. They signed a record deal with A&M Records in 1969 and by February the following year had scored their first US hit with a cover of the Beatles' Ticket To Ride. The follow-up (They Long To Be) Close To You was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The single reached number 1 in the USA and became the Carpenters' first hit in the UK.
The Carpenters went on to have thirteen Top 10 hits in the USA (four of them number 1s) and seven Top 10 hits in the UK. Although most of these were written by other songwriters (including two by Leon Russell and three by Paul Williams), some of their biggest hits (Goodbye To Love, Top Of The World and Yesterday Once More) were written by Richard Carpenter and his songwriting partner John Bettis.
The Carpenters' sound was built around Karen's crystal-clear voice, which was backed by layered harmonies and lush string arrangements.
Karen Carpenter died on 4th February 1983, aged 32, having lived for years with the slimmers' disease anorexia nervosa.
David and Jonathan (better known as the songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway) began recording as a duo in 1965. In 1966 they had a Top 20 hit in the USA and UK with a cover of the Beatles' Michelle. Later that year they had another UK hit with one of their own songs, Lovers Of The World Unite. After failing to chart with subsequent singles, the duo stopped performing together in March 1968 but continued their more successful songwriting partnership.
In 1970 Greenaway had a one-off novelty hit, Gimme Dat Ding, as one half of the duo Pipkins. Cook, meanwhile, had four Top 10 hits with Blue Mink.
David Van Day and Therese Bazaar formed Dollar after quitting Guys 'n' Dolls. Dollar marked a change in style and sound. The duo ditched their cutesy "boy and girl next door" image for something more trendy and abandoned middle of the road cabaret material for a more highly polished electro-pop sound. With renowned producer Trevor Horn at the helm, Dollar utilised studio technology to maximum effect, taking Therese's wispy vocals and turning them into one of the duo's greatest assets. Between 1978 and 1982 Dollar had eight Top 20 hits in the UK, four of which made it into the Top 10 - Love's Gotta Hold On Me, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Mirror Mirror (Mon Amour) and Give Me Back My Heart.
After splitting up in 1983 David and Therese both tried and failed with solo careers. They reunited in 1986 and scored another Top 10 hit with a cover of the Erasure song O L'Amour. David Van Day subsequently joined Bucks Fizz.
Along with Bill Hayley, Buddy Holly
and Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers
were part of the
rock 'n' roll revolution
of the 1950s.
In 1983, ten years
after splitting up, The Everly Brothers
for a concert
Royal Albert Hall.
remain the world's
vocal harmony duo,
influencing the work
of other duos
such as Simon and Garfunkel
and Everything But The Girl.
Everything But The Girl Amplified Heart
Before they formed the Eurythmics in December 1980, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart had been successful as members of the Tourists.
More of a synth / pop duo than a vocal harmony duo, the Eurythmics harmony vocals were carefully crafted in the recording studio, with Annie Lennox providing both the lead vocal and the bulk of the backing vocals. The most obvious exception was the Eurythmics' 1985 single Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves, which featured Annie Lennox sharing the lead vocal with Aretha Franklin.
The duo split up in 1990, having had three Top 10 singles in the USA (including a number 1 in 1983 with Sweet Dreams) and nine Top 10 singles in the UK (where There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart) reached number 1 in 1985).
The Everly Brothers (Don and Phil) were the top vocal group of the late 1950s and early 1960s. They had their first hit single in 1957 with Bye Bye Love. The song was written by Boudleaux Bryant, who (sometimes in collaboration with his wife Felice) wrote many more of the Everly's hits, among them the US number 1s Wake Up Little Susie, All I Have To Do Is Dream and Bird Dog.
In 1960 The Everly Brothers moved record labels from Cadence to the newly formed Warner Brothers Records. They immediately scored a number 1 on both sides of the Atlantic with the label's first release, Cathy's Clown (WB1). The duo continued to have Top 10 hits in the USA until 1962 but achieved higher chart placings in the UK, where the double A-side Walk Right Back / Ebony Eyes and its follow-up Temptation both reached number 1. In 1962 Crying In The Rain gave them their last Top 10 hit in Britain for three years. The song, which was released as a single while The Everly Brothers were doing six months National Service in the Marines, was written by Howie Greenfield and Carole King. It was covered eleven years later by Marty Kristian of the New Seekers and again in 1990 by A-Ha.
The Everlys returned to the UK Top 10 in 1965, when The Price Of Love made it to number 2. Although they continued to record and perform together until an acrimonious split in 1973, The Everly Brothers' hey day was behind them.
Phil Everly returned to the UK Top 10 in March 1983, singing with Cliff Richard on the hit She Means Nothing To Me. Shortly after this he and his brother Don patched up their differences, performing an emotional reunion concert at the Royal Albert Hall. The following year The Everly Brothers made a brief return to the lower reaches of the US and UK charts with a Paul McCartney song On The Wings Of A Nightingale. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Tracey Thorne and Ben Watt formed Everything But The Girl in 1982. They had their first UK hit in 1984 (Each And Every One) and their first Top 10 entry in 1988 (a cover of I Don't Want To Talk About It). Although their style was initially jazz-influenced and generally understated, their biggest hit came in 1995 when Missing was remixed as a dance track. Other hits have included covers of The Everly Brothers' Love Is Strange and Simon and Garfunkel'sThe Only Living Boy In New York.
Two of the Paul Simon songs
on The Graduate
soundtrack, The Sound Of Silence
and Mrs. Robinson,
covered by Lyn Paul
as a member of the Nocturnes
and the New Seekers.
Simon and Garfunkel's
original recording of The Sound Of Silence
their début album, Wednesday Morning, 3am.
A re-recorded version
on their album Sounds Of Silence.
on the Simon and Garfunkel
Simon and Garfunkel Sounds Of Silence
Simon and Garfunkel Bookends
Sonny and Cher Look At Us
Peter and Gordon
Quintessentially English, Peter Asher and Gordon Waller were successful in both the UK and the USA. Peter's sister, the actress Jane Asher, was the girlfriend of Paul McCartney. The connection proved invaluable to the duo's pop career, with McCartney providing them with four hit singles in the USA and three in the UK. Their début hit, Lennon and McCartney's A World Without Love, was their only number 1 in both countries (1964). Among their other hits were cover versions of Buddy Holly's True Love Ways and the Teddy Bears' To Know Him Is To Love Him (re-titled To Know You Is To Love You).
The Righteous Brothers (Bobby Hatfield (1940-2003) and Bill Medley) were protégés of Phil Spector. Hatfield's high tenor and Medley's deep baritone combined to create a rousing vocal style that rose up to meet Spector's famous "wall of sound" productions. They made their début in the UK charts in January 1965 with the number 1 hit You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'. The follow-up single Unchained Melody, initially reached number 14 in the UK but eventually also made it to number 1 (in 1990) when it was featured in the movie Ghost.
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel grew up together in New York. Inspired by The Everly Brothers, the teenage duo began singing together as Tom and Jerry. In 1957 they had a minor US hit with Hey Schoolgirl but Art Garfunkel then returned to college and Paul Simon went solo. The pair got together again in 1964 and recorded Wednesday Morning, 3am - their first LP as Simon and Garfunkel. The record did not sell well but when one of the songs, The Sound Of Silence, was lifted from the album and given a new drum and electric guitar backing, it became a US hit. From then on there was no looking back. Subsequent successes included the soundtrack to the Mike Nichols' film The Graduate (which included the double Grammy-winning single Mrs. Robinson) and 1970's best-selling album and single Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Although they both went on to have successful solo careers, their popularity as a duo endured. They reunited briefly in 1975 to record My Little Town (a hit in the USA) and in 1978 they joined forces with James Taylor to record a version of Sam Cooke's Wonderful World. In 1981 they were back together again for a concert in New York's Central Park (subsequently released as a live album). In 1993 they performed 21 sell-out dates in New York and in 2003 they re-united yet again for an 'Old Friends' tour of North America.
Simon and Garfunkel's songs have been covered by a wide variety of other artists. Their songs have particularly appealed to other vocal harmony groups, the Seekers and the New Seekers amongst them. Some of these groups have charted with songs that were not originally UK hits for Simon and Garfunkel. The Bachelors stole Sounds Of Silence for a number 3 UK hit in 1966 (two years later Lyn Paul recorded the song with the Nocturnes). Harpers Bizarre followed suit in 1967, borrowing The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) to score a hit on both sides of the Atlantic (US number 13, UK number 34). Decades later (in 1987 / 1988) the Bangles had a hit with Hazy Shade Of Winter (US number 2, UK number 11) while The Only Living Boy In New York became a minor UK hit for Everything But The Girl in 1993.
Sonny and Cher (alias Salvatore Bono and Cherilyn Sarkasian LaPier) were the hippie husband and wife who hit the big time in 1965 with I Got You Babe. Written, arranged and produced by Bono, the single topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Subsequent hits included Little Man (1966), The Beat Goes On (1967) and All I Ever Need Is You (the last of their Top 10 hits in the UK in 1972). By 1973 Sonny and Cher had also ran out of hits in America. By 1974 their marriage and their singing partnership were over.
Stealers Wheel (Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan) are best known for the 1973 hit Stuck In The Middle With You. The single typified their sound - strong harmonies, acoutstic guitars and a relaxed pace. Rafferty went on to have even greater solo success in 1978 with the album City To City and the single Baker Street.
Wham! (George Michael and his old school friend Andrew Ridgeley) first charted in 1982 with Young Guns (Go For It). Four years later, on 28th June 1986, they gave their final concert at Wembley Stadium. In the intervening years they made what George Michael once described as "derivative, catchy, huge-selling records," including four UK number 1s. Ironically, the duo's best-selling single of all, Last Christmas, only made it to number 2, being kept off the top spot by Band Aid's Do They Know it's Christmas.