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Let the Goodtimes Roll - Shirley & Lee
Shirley Goodman (born Shirley Mae Goodman, 19 June 1936, New Orleans, Louisiana – died 5 July 2005, Los Angeles, California) was an American R&B singer known best for Shirley and Lee, a 1950s R&B duo. Later in her career, she had a resurgence with the disco hit, "Shame, Shame, Shame" in the 1970s.
After singing in church choirs, she recorded her first demo with a group of friends in 1950. Some months later, her solo voice caught the attention of Aladdin Records owner Eddie Messner, who tracked her down and paired her as a duo with another school friend, Leonard Lee (29 June 1936 – 23 October 1976).
As 'Shirley & Lee', they recorded their debut single "I’m Gone", produced by Cosimo Matassa, which reached #2 on the Billboard R&B charts in 1952. The record contrasted Goodman’s soprano with Leonard's baritone, in a way in which subsequent songwriters have suggested was influential on the development of ska and reggae.
In their early songs, they pretended as if they were sweethearts and were dubbed "the Sweethearts of the Blues". However, they changed style in 1956 and recorded "Let the Good Times Roll", which became their biggest hit single reaching #1 on the US R&B chart and #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Although a follow-up single, "I Feel Good" (not to be confused with their 1955 single "Feel So Good"), also made the charts, the duo’s later releases were less successful, and Goodman and Leonard split up in 1962. Leonard made some subsequent solo records with little success.
Shirley & Lee are best remembered as a rock-and-roll duo from the 50's who came up with one great song that helps to define the era in pop music. One of them came back years later to usher in a different era in pop music history.
Sources vary as to their birthdates, but Shirley Mae Goodman and Leonard Lee were both born sometime from 1935 to 1937. In the early 50's they formed a rhythm-and-blues duo in New Orleans. They began to record for the Aladdin label in 1952 and became known as "The Sweethearts Of The Blues." Shirley had a high voice and Lee's was big and booming, and the contrast between the two gave their act its appeal. They began to record songs that made the top ten on the rhythm-and-blues charts, such as their first big one I'm Gone in 1952, a song that was written by Leonard Lee and Dave Bartholomew. In their early songs they pretended as if they were sweethearts. Other hits followed, including Feel So Good in 1955 and I Feel Good two years later. In late summer of 1956 the song with which Shirley & Lee are most often associated entered the charts. Let The Good Times Roll was a big hit at teenage parties everywhere. Some DJ's refused to play it, claiming that it had suggestive lyrics. The song crossed over to the pop charts, where it reached as high as number twenty.
Shirley & Lee continued to record together up until 1963, when Lee began to record songs for Imperial. Shirley developed an act with Jesse Hill which they called Shirley & Jesse, and they worked in New Orleans with Mac Rebennack and others. In 1975 Shirley recorded a song called Shame, Shame, Shame with a group of studio musicians, and it was released on the Vibration label as by Shirley And Company. The song had links to rock-and-roll's glorious past -- in addition to Shirley's lead female vocal, one of the musicians included in the recording was Kenny Jeremiah, who had been a founding member of the Soul Survivors [Expressway To Your Heart] in the 60's. In addition, Shame, Shame, Shame was written and produced by Sylvia Vanderpool Robinson of Mickey & Sylvia [Love Is Strange]. The song reached number twelve and was regarded as one of the first disco hits of the 70's.
Leonard Lee died in 1976. Shirley married and changed her name to Shirley Mae Goodman Pixley. She passed away on July 5, 2005. The best songs recorded by the duo were compiled on Ace as The Best Of Shirley & Lee.
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